Steve Seel

Steve Seel possesses a broad knowledge of many musical genres, having hosted radio programs ranging from classical to jazz and even avant-garde music at public radio stations around the country. Steve came to Minnesota Public Radio in 1999 to be a part of its nationally-syndicated classical music programming. In 2005, he became one of the founding voices on MPR's eclectic station The Current, and has hosted various time slots from mornings to late nights, and conducted in-depth interviews with pop music luminaries ranging from Brian Eno to David Byrne to Tori Amos. Steve is an avid reader of political and social commentary as well, and he emcees The Current's popular Policy and a Pint community series, featuring discussions with noted scholars, politicians, community leaders, authors and big thinkers on important issues of the day. Steve is also a basement composer obsessed with all things both minimalist and slow, and might actually be incapable of writing anything that exceeds 75 beats-per-minute.

Stories

Extra Eclectic: The Winter Solstice

As we approach the winter solstice this week, Steve Seel has music in a chilly mood this time ... or is it a warm one? Bundle up and enjoy 20th and 21st century classical music on wintry themes from Johann Johannssen, Alan Hovhanness and Ola Gjelo, as well as cellist Maya Beiser's ethereal rendering of the largo from Vivaldi's Winter concerto and Minnesota violinist Gaelynn Lea's duet with her looping pedal in a beautiful rendition of "O Come O Come Emmanuel."

Extra Eclectic: Strings and Seasons

Modern music for strings is the first order of business on this week's program: Steve Seel brings us an hour of 20th and 21st century works for string ensembles big and small -- from Steve Reich's "Duet" for two violins to Michael Tippett's "Concerto for Double String Orchestra," a piece from the 1930s which sounds like it could have been written yesterday. For the second hour, Steve plays a selection of works loosely inspired by the shorter days and cooler temperatures this time of year.

Extra Eclectic: Sounds of the Spirit

There's a spiritual dimension to the works Steve Seel has for us on this edition of Extra Eclectic. Arvo Part's "Fur Alina," Jennifer Higdon's "Blue Cathedral," and John Luther Adams' "Canticles of the Holy Wind" are among the compositions that create an atmosphere of reverence among the contemporary sounds on the first hour of the program. In the second hour, Steve features David Kirkland Garner's "Dark Holler," a work exploring the sounds and atmospheres of the rural American south.

Extra Eclectic: Danny Elfman Writes a Violin Concerto

Danny Elfman has written over 100 film and TV scores, from Tim Burton's Batman to the theme from The Simpsons. He says that from time to time, however, he finds that he has to write orchestral music totally free from the influence of film, in order to "keep my sanity" -- a process he says he finds "incredibly liberating and relieving." His latest is his Violin Concerto, "Eleven Eleven," and it's featured on this week's show. Ward Jacobsen guest hosts.

Extra Eclectic: Avi Avital et. al.

Avi Avital is an Israeli mandolinist, best known for his renditions of well-known Baroque and folk music, much of which was originally written for other instruments. Just about all those things are defied however in the work Steve features this week - a new work by David Bruce, called "Cymbeline," in which the composer says the mandolin conveys "the warmth of the sun." Steve also features two works by Steve Reich, as well as pieces by Missy Mazzoli, Colin Stetson, and more.

Extra Eclectic: Honoring Christopher Rouse

Composer Christopher Rouse died on Saturday at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer. Rouse once said, "I don't think it matters whether a piece is complex or simple, whether it's tonal or atonal or whatever ... That's not nearly as significant as whether it communicates something meaningful to a listener." Steve honors his life and career with an airing of his work, "Supplica." That plus music of John Adams, Toru Takamitsu, and more on this week's program.

Extra Eclectic: The Future is Female

For centuries, and even for most of the 20th, classical music was very much a boy's club. Thankfully that's come to and end, and even though there's still much ground to be gained for women in classical music, female composers are growing in number all the time. Steve Seel features a full two hours of living women composers on this edition of the show, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Paola Prestini, Laura Cannell, Caroline Mallonee, Shelley Washington, Carmen Braden, and more.

Extra Eclectic: Outsiders Making Inroads

The term "outsider art" usually refers to artists and performers who exist outside the mainstream of their chosen fields, sometimes self-taught, but always unapologetically independent. Steve Seel showcases composers who fit the term, but who also represent today's classical environment in general, where fewer rules apply than ever. You'll hear the vocal music of Meredith Monk, as well as the orchestral movie scoring of rocker and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, and a "mini symphony" by the man who called himself Moondog.