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: 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.
New Classical Tracks: 'Paris, Mon Amour'
Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva has a new album that stirs many happy memories for her, not only of a city she loves, but of her motherhood and her call-up to the Met Opera.
New Classical Tracks: Hilary Hahn, 'In 27 Pieces'
On Sunday, Feb. 8, Hilary Hahn won a Grammy Award for her album, 'In 27 Pieces', which just happens to be the release we're featuring this week on New Classical Tracks. Julie Amacher spoke to Hilary Hahn about this work.
New Classical Tracks: 'The Ground Beneath our Feet'
An ensemble that evolved out of a group of friends making music in the living room is now on firm ground with its latest album. Learn about the Knights and this new release on New Classical Tracks. You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of the CD.
New Classical Tracks: After a Dream
It's fitting an ensemble that took its name from a character in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' released a debut album that references the play. 'After a Dream' is the name of Lysander Piano Trio's first album, and it's on New Classical Tracks.
New Classical Tracks: For the Mozart Concerto Completist
Rachel Barton Pine has been playing Mozart's violin concertos since she was 10 years old. She's performed each of these five concertos many times since then. In 2011, she performed all five violin concertos in a single evening! Now, Rachel and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields have put them all on a single recording.
New Classical Tracks: The Hollywood Sound
On his latest release, 'Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album', violinist Daniel Hope looks at the development and creation of the so-called Hollywood sound. It's the featured album on New Classical Tracks.
New Classical Tracks: the wondrous beauty of Bach
Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard spent seven months exploring Bach's first book of 'The Well-Tempered Clavier'. Along the way, Aimard also discovered that each one of these little masterpieces is now a personal favorite. Hear about Aimard's new album, 'Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier I'.
A lullaby and video for Natalie
Any child whose parent sings him or her a lullaby is lucky indeed. But when your mother happens to be Anne Akiko Meyers, a renowned composer writes a lullaby for you, and Mom performs it on violin. Meyers shares the story and a music video for the lullaby created for her daughter, Natalie.
New Classical Tracks: Anne Akiko Meyers, 'The American Masters'
Three generations of mentorship, friendship and shared ideas coalesce on a new album that is the brainchild of violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, who's been inspired by all three of the American composers featured on this recording: Samuel Barber, John Corigliano and Mason Bates.
New Classical Tracks: Barry Douglas, 'Celtic Reflections'
Flutist Eimear McGeown joins pianist Barry Douglas on a new collection of Irish airs titled <em>Celtic Reflections</em>. Hear about it on this week's New Classical Tracks.