Julie Amacher's desire to introduce others to great music is what led her to radio. She began her professional broadcast career at a station in Sun Prairie, Wis. She went from rock 'n' roll to the Rocky Mountains, where she found her niche in public radio at KUNC in Greeley, Colo. Julie spent 13 years at KUNC, where she managed the announcers and their eclectic music format. During that time, she earned four national awards for best announcer. She joined Minnesota Public Radio in 1997 as an on-air host and also produces New Classical Tracks, a weekly podcast critiquing a new release each week. It airs locally at 7:15 a.m. Wednesdays and 5:15 p.m. Fridays.
Favorite classical music quote:
"Never compose anything unless the not composing of it becomes a positive nuisance to you." Gustav Holst
First music recording you ever owned?
Actually, the first album I can remember really being enamored with was one my sister bought when I was 11 Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman.
How did you get involved with classical music?
Virgil Thomson put it best: "Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not." That's pretty much how I came to classical music. I just kept trying it. First as a kid sitting on the piano bench listening and singing as my mother played all kinds of music including classical. In high school, I finally started taking voice lessons. That's when I discovered art songs by composers like Franz Schubert. Before coming to Minnesota Public Radio, I worked at a public radio station in Colorado that included classical music in its eclectic mix. Since coming to MPR, I've really immersed myself in it.
If a listener were to go for coffee with you, what's the first thing they'd learn about you?
That I love chai tea and chocolate! Usually when I get to chat with our listeners the first thing they ask is, "How do you come up with all those interesting things to say?" Well, I do a lot of digging. I'm really curious, and I know they are too, so I love digging for fun tidbits about the music and the artists who perform it.
Your favorite piece from the classical music play list archive?
Beethoven's Choral Fantasy (DG 453 798). Claudio Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic. Pianist Yevgeny Kissin. This is a piece that isn't heard very often, but for me, it epitomizes what Beethoven's all about. It starts off quietly, with piano alone, and gradually builds into a luscious precursor to his Ninth Symphony.
Stories by Julie Amacher
New Classical Tracks: Angele Dubeau's portrait of Ludovico Einaudi
Violinist Angele Dubeau's 39th recording is another in her series of musical portraits of living composers, and celebrates Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi. Learn more about this musical portrait and enter for a chance to win a copy of the CD.
New Classical Tracks: The Bach/Gould Project
Members of the Catalyst Quartet describe their new recording by using the words Bach himself used: 'Composed for music lovers, to refresh their spirits.' Find out more about the album.
New Classical Tracks: The risk and enlightenment of arranging
Arranger Steve Barta accepted the challenge of creating a symphonic arrangement of Claude Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio. He found the experience both challenging and eye-opening.
New Classical Tracks: piano and cello collaboration
Stephen Hough and Steven Isserlis worked together on an album that showcases cello sonatas by composer pianists. Hear more about these Mendelssohn-Grieg-Hough Cello Sonatas.
New Classical Tracks: Capturing the magic of Venice
To record the music of Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi, mandolinist Avi Avital recruited the Venice Baroque Orchestra. "Recording this Venetian music with an orchestra that's actually all from Venice just added this extra spice to it," Avital explains.
New Classical Tracks: The shenanigans of 'Widdershins'
The latest album by Kirk Elliot and the Orchestra of Unmitigated Gaul is inspired by mediaeval stories and songs -- even the instruments have stories behind them.
New Classical Tracks: Stephen Layton, 'American Polyphony'
Stephen Layton and British vocal ensemble Polyphony have assembled a collection of choral works by composers Layton calls 'the real grandfathers of American choral music writ large.'
New Classical Tracks: ZOFO Plays Terry Riley
The fourth project of four-hand piano duo ZOFO celebrates the 80th birthday of Terry Riley, an iconic American composer who's one of the founders of the Minimalist movement.
New Classical Tracks: Sugarloaf Mountain - An Appalachian Gathering
Although Apollo's Fire is primarily a Baroque orchestra, its latest album is a recording of early American folk music. 'We follow the journey of the music through the stories of the men and women who gathered in the hills of Appalachia to build new lives,' says Apollo's Fire Artistic Director Jeannette Sorrell.
New Classical Tracks: Stephen Hough, 'Lyric Pieces'
Pianist Stephen Hough focuses on 27 pieces composer Edvard Grieg wrote for the enjoyment of amateur pianists. 'They were for domestic consumption,' Hough says. 'I love these pieces.'
New Classical Tracks: Terrifying, restless, witty
Jonathan Biss is halfway through a nine–year, nine–disc recording project of the entire Beethoven sonata cycle. The most recent is volume four. Learn more about the project — including its educational component — and enter for a chance to win the CD.
New Classical Tracks: Harp and Guitar get 'Together'
Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and guitarist Jason Vieaux have a new collaborative album that pairs two instruments that aren't often heard and seen together.
New Classical Tracks: Bryan Hymel, 'Heroique'
Tenor Bryan Hymel has found his niche in the heroic tenor roles of French opera, which require agility, stamina, lyricism and stellar high notes. For his first recital disc, Hymel soars through 11 of these demanding arias.
New Classical Tracks: Jack Gallagher ascending
JoAnn Falletta and the London Symphony Orchestra recently released their second recording of works by American composer Jack Gallagher. This CD features Gallagher's Symphony No. 2, <em>Ascendant</em>, and another work titled 'Quiet Reflection.'
New Classical Tracks: A personal approach to the music of Vivaldi
Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra put their own stamp on an iconic set of concertos by Antonio Vivaldi.
New Classical Tracks: The radiant music of 'Lux'
On their new album, 'Lux', the vocal ensemble Voces8 provide a musical adventure that spans four centuries of choral arrangements, from the Renaissance to 21st-century pop. Listen to samples of the recording and hear insights from the artists.
New Classical Tracks: Romero captures the spirit of Spain
Pepe Romero's latest album is a showcase of works by one of Pepe's closest friends, composer Federico Torroba. Romero describes 'Torroba: Guitar Concertos' on New Classical Tracks.
New Classical Tracks: Simone Dinnerstein, 'Broadway - Lafayette'
Pianist Simone Dinnerstein's latest album celebrates the frienships, musical and otherwise, between New York and France. Its title was inspired by the name of a subway station.
New Classical Tracks: What's old is new again
Charles Neidich is a bit like Indiana Jones: He tries to capture elusive historical items. In Neidich's case, he's trying to find historic instruments to re-create an authentic sound, something he achieves on his latest album, 'Mozart 1791'.
New Classical Tracks: The joy and tumult of Beethoven
The Cypress String Quartet were first inspired to record Beethoven's late quartets. Now 'telling the story backwards', they are releasing a three-CD set of Beethoven's middle quartets, works that came at a tumultuous time in the composer's life.