DiscoverCon Fuoco: A Podcast about Classical Music and its Future
Con Fuoco: A Podcast about Classical Music and its Future
Claim Ownership

Con Fuoco: A Podcast about Classical Music and its Future

Author: Daniel Cho

Subscribed: 4Played: 81


Con Fuoco is a podcast about the field of classical music and its future. The objective of the podcast is to discuss the current state of the field of classical music and where it is headed in the future. Each episode will center around one question regarding our world of classical music, which I discuss with a guest who I believe can offer insight and answers into each subject and its future. The aim of this podcast is not to answer these questions, but to spark conversations about who we are. This podcast is meant to utilize our greatest strength as human beings - the ability to share and discuss information and use our unified ideas to better our communities. Con Fuoco can be found on Apple Podcast and Stitcher. This podcast is hosted by conductor and violinist, Daniel Cho. Daniel is currently based in Oregon and serves as Conducting Fellow of the Eugene Symphony and Assistant Conductor of the Oregon Mozart Players and Eugene Opera. If there is a question you would like to submit, a guest you would like to see on the show, or if you would like to discuss anything on the show, please email at Thank you for listening!
31 Episodes
Dr. Philip Ewell is an Associate Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he serves as Director of Graduate Studies in the music department. His specialties include Russian music and music theory, Russian opera, modal theory, and critical-race studies. He received the 2019–2020 “Presidential Award for Excellence in Creative Work” at Hunter College, and he is the “Susan McClary and Robert Walser Fellow” of the American Council of Learned Societies for 2020–2021. In August 2020 he received the “Graduate Center Award for Excellence in Mentoring,” which recognized his “ongoing, long-term, commitment to students at all stages of graduate research.” He is also a “Virtual Scholar in Residence” at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music for 2020–2021. As a result of his ACLS award, he is currently working on a monograph—to be published by the “Music and Social Justice” series at the University of Michigan Press—combining race and feminist studies with music and music theory. Finally, he is under contract at W.W. Norton to coauthor a new music theory textbook, “The Practicing Music Theorist,” which will be a modernized, reframed, and inclusive textbook based on recent developments in music theory pedagogy.The Question of the Week is, "How can classical music confront its own history of exclusion?" Dr. Ewell and I discuss his experience presenting his paper on race, how classical music and institutions operate through a white racial frame, his advice on how to approach those who do not want to discuss issues in classical music, the inclusive theory textbook he and his colleagues are currently formulating, and his recommendations on those who want to learn more about diversity and equity in classical music. Dr. Ewell's website - http://philipewell.comDr. Ewell's presentation Music Theory and the White Racial Frame - Check - At the end of our conversation, I refer to three recent police shootings and mistakenly called thirteen-year old victim, Adam Toledo, African-American when he is actually Mexican-American. Dr. Ewell corrected me and I wanted to include a fact check note in the show notes to verify this correction. This Season Finale episode of Con Fuoco is dedicated to George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 - May 25, 2020)
This week, we have a rebroadcast of my conversation from September of 2020 with performer and educator Vanessa Mulvey. The Question of the Week we discussed was, "Should understanding the body be a priority in music education?" Ms. Mulvey and I discuss how everything in our body is connected, how modernity encourages us not to use or understand our bodies, the disconnect between good and bad performances, and how all music performance revolves around movement. Truly understanding the body and its various connections and nuances is not something that is prioritized in music education, the effects of which are shown through the disturbing number of musicians who suffer from body issues. As I’ve developed as a conductor and violinist, looking at music through the scope of my body has been one of the most helpful and healthiest changes I’ve made as a musician. That shift in focus happened for me as a student in Vanessa Mulvey’s Body Mapping class and I learned even more through this conversation with her. Please enjoy this rebroadcast of my conversation with Vanessa Mulvey. 
Simon Woods joined the League of American Orchestras as President and CEO in 2020. Born in London, England, Mr. Woods earned a degree in music from Cambridge University and a diploma in conducting from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. From the late 1980s to the late 1990s, he worked as a record producer at EMI Classics in London, where he initiated and produced recordings at Abbey Road Studios and on location with many of the world’s foremost classical artists and ensembles. From 1997 to 2004, he was Artistic Administrator and later Vice President of Artistic Planning & Operations at The Philadelphia Orchestra. From 2004 to 2005, he was President & CEO of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, before moving back to the UK in 2005 to become Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, one of the United Kingdom’s leading symphony orchestras. Returning to the US in 2011, he became President & CEO of the Seattle Symphony, a post he held for seven years. In November 2017, Woods was appointed CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a post he held until September 2019. From February to August 2020, Woods was Interim Executive Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.Woods brings more than 30 years of experience working with orchestras. He is deeply committed to equity, to the role of arts organizations in community, and to nurturing the next generation of arts leaders. He is known throughout the sector as a highly trusted mentor to orchestra management professionals, emerging leaders, and conductors. For two decades he has contributed to the League of American Orchestras’ professional development programs, including acting as Director of the League’s signature immersive training program, Essentials of Orchestra Management. In March 2020 he joined the Board of Directors of National Arts Strategies.The Question of the Week is, "What are the characteristics of a strong organization in classical music?" Simon and I discuss what it was like becoming President and CEO of the League of American Orchestras during a pandemic, his experience running some of the biggest classical music organizations around the world, the difference between the American and British classical music scenes, what he hopes to pass on to the next generation of leaders, and why he hopes we do not go back to normal. You can find out more about the League of American Orchestras on their website,
Dr. Nina Kraus is Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University. She is a scientist, inventor (holder of several patents), and amateur musician who uses hearing as a window into brain health. She began her career measuring responses from single auditory neurons and was one of the first to show that the adult nervous system has the potential for reorganization with learning; these insights in basic biology galvanized her to investigate sound processing in the brain in humans. Through a series of innovative studies involving thousands of research participants from birth to age 90, her research has found that our lives in sound, and our experiences, for better (musicians, bilinguals) and for worse (concussion, language disorders, noise), shape how our brain makes sense of the sounds we hear. Using the principles of neuroscience to improve human communication, she advocates for best practices in education, health, and social policy. The Question of the Week is, "How does music affect the human brain?" Dr. Kraus and I discuss her journey and how she came to be researching sound and the brain, the role sound plays in our everyday lives, why making music is the healthiest thing you can do for your brain, the similarities between meditation and making music, and why silence is just as important as sound. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Kraus and her research, please visit  
This episode is a rebroadcast of my conversation with President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization, Afa Dworkin. Afa Dworkin is the President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization, where she oversees all fundraising, strategic, and artistic initiatives. Founded in 1997, the Sphinx Organization has four program areas - Education and Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists, and Arts Leadership - which form a pipeline that develops and supports diversity and inclusion in classical music at every level of our field: music education, performing artists, repertoire programmed, the communities represented in audiences, and artistic and administrative leadership. Sphinx Organization reaches more than 100,000 students and artists as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than two million annually. Ms. Dworkin’s leadership of the organization is informed by her musical training, over twenty-five years of experience in the field, as well as her international corporate experience as a trilingual interpreter and Executive Assistant to the President of ARCO, The International Oil and Gas Company in Baku in Azerbaijian. Ms. Dworkin and I discuss the question: Why is a lack of diversity harmful to classical music? We discuss why classical music is not a meritocracy, steps organizations can take to address diversity in a meaningful way, why this issue poses an existential threat to our field, and doing and saying the difficult things when no one is looking.You can find out more about Ms. Dworkin and the Sphinx Organization at their website 
Ben Yee-Paulson is an internationally recognized American composer, who's music has been premiered at Carnegie Hall, Jordan Hall, Harvard University, Curtis Institute, Warwick Castle in England, La Schola Cantorum in Paris, the DiMenna Center in New York City, and the world opening of Microsoft’s flagship store in New York City. Nationally, Ben’s music was awarded first-place in the Costello Competition, both a Merit Award and “Emerging Composer” status from the Tribeca New Music Festival, honorable mention from the Charles Ives Concert Series, and finalist position from ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers multiple times. Internationally, he received honorable mention in the Future Blend Composition Competition, and was a semi-finalist in the Tampa Bay Symphony’s Composition Competition. Ben was a composer-in-residence at the Zodiac Music Festival and DePaul University. He is represented by PARMA Recordings.Ben’s music has been played renowned ensembles like the American Modern Ensemble, Ensemble Del Niente, the American Modern Orchestra, the NEC Contemporary Ensemble, and the New York Youth Symphony. Other premieres occurred at the European American Musical Alliance, the Bard Conductor’s Institute, the Atlantic Music Festival, the Zodiac Music Festival, the Mostly Modern Festival, and the International Horn Symposium in Belgium. His music has been played by prominent artists like Grammy-nominated cellist Thomas Mesa, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra violinist Chelsea Kim, and internationally-acclaimed harpist Abigail Kent. Ben is a Doctor of Music student at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music, studying with Aaron Travers and Claude Baker. He has a Master of Music from New England Conservatory and Bachelors of Music from New York University, where he studied with Michael Gandolfi, Kati Agócs, and Justin Dello Joio.The Question of the Week is, "What defines a successful partnership between performer and composer?" Ben and I discuss fruitful relationships he has had with performers, what the general mindsets and goals of modern day composers are, how performing and playing piano has informed his own composition style, and how he would hope his music would be performed in two hundred years. 
With the “energy, creativity and charisma not seen since Leonard Bernstein” and “vibrant,” “mind-blowing,” and “spectacular” conducting, Ming Luke is a versatile conductor that has excited audiences around the world.  Highlights include conducting the Bolshoi Orchestra in Moscow, performances of Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella at the Kennedy Center, his English debut at Sadler’s Wells with Birmingham Royal, conducting Dvorak’s Requiem in Dvorak Hall in Prague, recording scores for a Coppola film, and over a hundred performances at the San Francisco War Memorial with San Francisco Ballet.  The 20-21 season Luke conducts San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, and at Classical Tahoe with musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  He has been recognized nationally for his work with music education and has designed and conducted education concerts and programs with organizations such as the Berkeley Symphony, Houston Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera and others.  Luke has soloed as a pianist with Pittsburgh Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, and San Francisco Ballet, and currently serves as Music Director for the Merced Symphony and Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra; Principal Conductor of the Nashville Ballet, Associate Conductor for the Berkeley Symphony; and Principal Guest Conductor for the San Francisco Ballet.  Long time critic Allan Ulrich of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “Ming Luke delivered the best live theater performance I’ve ever heard of [Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet]” and in 2016 Luke’s War Requiem was named best choral performance of 2016 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Passionate about collaboration with dance companies and deepening the impact of movement to live music, Luke has guested with Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Nashville Symphony/Ballet, San Diego Ballet and others and conducted l’Orchestre Prométhée in Paris as part of San Francisco Ballet’s residency with Les Etés de la Danse. Famed dancer Natalia Makarova stated, “Ming has a mixture of pure musicality and a sensitivity to needs of the dancers, which are such rare qualities.”The Question of the Week is, "How can classical musicians be effective collaborators with others?" Ming and I discuss his experience working with dancers as a conductor of ballet, what he believes is the key to being an effective collaborator, and his definition of a "successful classical musician." You can find out more about Ming on his website, 
My guest this week is violinist, Liana Branscome! Liana is the first prize winner of the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota Competition Junior Division (2015), Boca Raton Symphonia Concerto Competition (2014), the Ars Flores Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition (2014) and second prize winner of the New World Symphony Young Artist Competition (2014). She has appeared as soloist with the Vidin Philharmonia in Bulgaria, Palm Beach Atlantic Symphony, the Ars Flores Symphony Orchestra and the Treasure Coast Youth Symphony. She has also performed as guest artist at the Newport Music Festival in Rhode Island and the Auras Nunes Aula de Cámara in Santiago, Spain. Recent engagements include a recital tour of Portugal, Spain and London with pianist Bernardo Santos and a tour of South Florida with pianist Lewis Warren Jr.Liana is pursuing her Master of Music in violin performance at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music where she studies under Glenn Dicterow. She received her Bachelor of Music at the New England Conservatory under the instruction of Paul Biss and Lucy Chapman. Her precollege teachers include David and Linda Cerone. She has attended the Heifetz International Music Institute, the Sarasota Music Festival, and the Chautauqua Institute. Liana served as a Fellow in NEC’s Community Performances and Partnerships Program where she presented numerous solo and duo recitals in the Boston community. Liana is currently a teaching assistant at the University of Southern California in non-major violin and has presented several masterclasses and recitals at schools around South Florida. Liana is currently part of the administrative team of Project Build: Peer Masterclass Series, an organization that seeks to create a space in which young professional musicians can learn from and connect with each other.While at the New England Conservatory, Liana also received a minor in creative writing and served as an editor of New England Conservatory’s academic journal Hear, Here! and student newspaper, The Penguin.
Jan Swafford is an author and composer. His musical works range from orchestral and chamber to film and theater music, including four pieces for orchestra, Midsummer Variations for piano quintet, They That Mourn for piano trio, and They Who Hunger for piano quartet. His music has been played around the U.S. and abroad by ensembles including the symphonies of Indianapolis, St. Louis, Harrisburg, Springfield, Jacksonville, Chattanooga, and the Dutch Radio. His degrees are from Harvard and the Yale School of Music. In 1989 he was a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard. In 2018 he was awarded an honorary Harvard Phi Beta Kappa. In 2012 his online music journalism won a Deems Taylor Award.As a music journalist and scholar, Swafford has written for Slate, The Guardian, Gramophone, and 19th Century Music among others. He is a longtime program note writer for the Boston Symphony, and has written program and liner notes for the symphonies of Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Detroit, and San Francisco, for Chamber Music at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, and Deutsche Grammophon. Recently he has appeared in television documentaries in Germany and England. His books include the biographies Charles Ives: A Life with Music (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award); Johannes Brahms: A Biography; and Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. All these books were Critics’ Choices in the New York Times. HIs biography on Mozart was just published in December of 2020. His books have been widely translated in Europe and China.The Question of the Week is, "Do classical musicians really understand our own history?" Jan and I discuss the habit classical musicians have of deifying composers, assumptions and narratives he needed to unlearn, how the teaching of the history of Western classical music has changed, how his research and writing of composers has informed his own composition process, and why he believes talent does exist. 
Donato Cabrera is the Music Director of the California Symphony and the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and served as the Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2009-2016. Since Mr. Cabrera's appointment as Music Director of the California Symphony in 2013, the organization has reached new artistic heights by implementing innovative programming that emphasizes welcoming newcomers and loyalists alike, building on its reputation for championing music by living composers, and committing to programming music by women and people of color. Mr. Cabrera has also greatly changed the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s concert experience by expanding the scope and breadth of its orchestral concerts, hosting engaging and lively pre-concert conversations with guest artists and composers, and by creating the Spotlight Concert series that features the musicians of the Las Vegas Philharmonic in intimate chamber music performances. Deeply committed to diversity and education through the arts, Cabrera evaluates the scope, breadth, and content of the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic’s music education programs. In the 2020-2021 season, Mr. Cabrera will continue to work with California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic to give vibrant, high-quality performances in a reimagined way that will keep musicians and audiences safe during COVID-19 restrictions. In March 2020, Mr. Cabrera launched two new online projects to stay engaged with audiences during the Coronavirus pandemic. MusicWise -Conversations about Art and Culture with Donato Cabrerais a weekly interview series presented on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. The Music Plays On is a series on Cabrera’s blog about his favorite performances and recordings.The Question of the Week is a continuation of the question from our episode with Aubrey Bergauer, "Does the field of classical music focus enough attention on its audiences?" Donato and I discuss what a community-minded approach looks like in the concert hall, why classical musicians are like brain surgeons, how classical music has brought him closer to his Mexican heritage, and the lessons he believes we will take from COVID-19. You can find out more about Donato on his website
Called “one of the Boston music scene's most valuable players” by The Art Fuse,  percussionist, composer, and producer Julian Loida's musical curiosity and open-mindedness has propelled him towards a wide-range of sounds, genres, and artistic endeavors. He’s performed jazz, folk, and classical, collaborating with dancers, visual artists, songwriters/composers, and musicians of all stripes. The thirst to participate in and experience this range of sounds is partly a product of Loida’s synesthesia. Music is a full- body experience for him, with sounds often invoking involuntary sensations of color, texture, or even taste. Loida has toured internationally as a featured artist at Korrö, Sweden’s largest folk music festival, and played some of the most prestigious music festivals in the U.S. such as Spoleto, New World Festival, the Exit Zero jazz festival, Caramoor American Roots Festival, and Round Top Music Festival. He has performed with groups such as Alarm Will Sound, the Callithumpian Consort, and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. As an educator, Loida shares his scores and deep rhythmic knowledge with students of all ages. In 2017, he received his Master’s Degree in Classical Percussion from New England Conservatory. Julian is also the host and creator of A Millennial Musician, a podcast that speaks to young musicians about their journeys through music. The Question of the Week is, "What direction will the next generation of musician take us?" Julian and I discuss how his past experiences inform his current outlook on life, what we can learn from young musicians, common themes amongst the young musicians he has talked to, and his advice on having a good sense of rhythm. You can follow Julian and the podcast on Instagram @julianloida, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts:
Francesco Lecce-Chong is the Music Director of the Eugene Symphony in Oregon, and the Santa Rosa Symphony, performing at the Green Music Center in Northern California. The press has described him as a “fast rising talent in the music world” with “the real gift” and recognized his dynamic performances, fresh programming, deep commitment to commissioning and performing new music as well as to community outreach. Mr. Lecce-Chong has appeared with orchestras around the world including the San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Hong Kong Philharmonic and collaborated with top soloists including Renée Fleming and Itzhak Perlman. Other recent subscription debuts included the Colorado Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic and Xi’An Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Lecce-Chong has also returned to conduct the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Milwaukee and San Diego Symphony. The 19/20 season also marked his debut with the New York Philharmonic as part of the legendary Young People’s Concert Series.Following the paths of renowned Music Directors of the Eugene and the Santa Rosa aSymphonies including Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero and Jeffrey Kahane, Mr. Lecce-Chong has made his mark with the two orchestras introducing a series of new music and community initiatives. In 2019, the orchestras announced Mr. Lecce-Chong’s “First Symphony Project” commissioning four major orchestral works by young composers – Matt Brown, Gabriella Smith, Angélica Negrón and Michael Djupstrom – to be performed over several seasons accompanied by multiple composer residencies and community events. In Eugene, he has reinitiated family concerts and presented a number of innovative projects such as an original multimedia performance of Scriabin’s compositions engaging light and color.In the 20/21 season, an unprecedented one for live orchestral music, Mr. Lecce-Chong will conduct virtual concerts with both the Santa Rosa and the Eugene Symphony, specifically created for online audiences. The performances will be streamed worldwide and will take a unique form of a cohesive musical journey complete with interviews with musicians. The programs will include music by living composers Jessie Montgomery, Gabriella Lena Frank and Chen Yi. Santa Rosa Symphony will also celebrate Beethoven’s 250th with performances of his first three symphonies.During his successful tenures as Associate Conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony under Edo de Waart and the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck, Mr. Lecce-Chong also dedicated his time to opera, building his credentials as staff conductor with the Santa Fe Opera and conducted Madama Butterfly at the Florentine Opera with the Milwaukee Symphony. Mr. Lecce-Chong is the recipient of several distinctions, including the prestigious Solti Foundation Award. Trained also as a pianist and composer, he completed his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music with Otto-Werner Mueller after attending the Mannes College of Music and Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Italy. He has had the privilege of being mentored and supported by celebrated conductors including Bernard Haitink, David Zinman, Edo de Waart, Manfred Honeck, Donald Runnicles and Michael Tilson Thomas.You can find out more about Francesco on his website,, or on Instagram @leccechong.
Dr. Sharon J. Paul is a performer and educator who holds the Robert M. Trotter Chair of Music at the University of Oregon, where she currently serves as Interim Department Head of Music Performance and Director of Choral Activities. Her teaching includes graduate courses in choral conducting, repertoire, and pedagogy, along with conducting the internationally award-winning Chamber Choir, which has placed first or second in four international choral competitions, most recently winning first prize in the Chamber Choir category at the Grand Prix of Nations Competition in Gothenburg, Sweden in August 2019. The Chamber Choir became a resident ensemble of the Oregon Bach Festival in 2014, performing each summer under conductors such as Helmuth Rilling, Matthew Halls, John Nelson, Jane Glover, and Joann Falletta.In March 2020, Oxford University Press published Dr. Paul’s book, Art & Science in the Choral Rehearsal, which features many of the creative and evidence-based teaching strategies she has cultivated over her career. Dr. Paul has also presented interest sessions at regional, state, division, national, and international conferences, appearing frequently as adjudicator, clinician, teacher, and honor choir director throughout the United States and abroad, with recent appearances nationally in Minnesota, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and internationally in Singapore, Estonia, Sweden, and England. In 2019, she received Oregon ACDA’s Podium Award for “outstanding contributions to the choral arts,” and in the fall of 2014 she received the University of Oregon’s Fund for Faculty Excellence Award.The Question of the Week is, “What are elements of effective teaching in classical music?” Dr. Paul and I discuss what the core elements of her teaching style is, teachers in her life that she found effective (and others she didn’t), her incredible book Art and Science in the Choral Rehearsal, what science has taught us about how the brain learns, and the toxic relationships that can develop between teachers and their students. 
My guest this week is violinist, certified personal trainer, and holistic health and mindset coach, Kiyoshi Hayashi. As a performing musician, Kiyoshi is the founder, managing director, and violinist of the award winning Rasa String Quartet, the Co-Artistic Director of the musician-led string ensemble and nonprofit organization, Palaver Strings, and regularly performs with numerous ensembles around New England, including A Far Cry, Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, and Phoenix Orchestra. As a wellness professional, Kiyoshi has worked as a personal trainer at Equinox Fitness Club and in 2019 launched his personal health and life coaching business, Train From Within, where his mission is to help young musicians achieve professional and emotional sustainability by helping them implement habit change in health, mindset, and performance. While Kiyoshi has been successful as both a performing musician and health professional, his goal now is to find the intersection of these two passions and use them to inspire social change, foster community, and create a happier, healthier, and more compassionate world. The Question of the Week is, "How can classical musicians actively encourage confidence and happiness in their lives?" Kiyoshi and I discuss his own journey towards health and happiness, the obstacles he overcame that led to the work he does now, and what a happy, confident, and healthy person looks like. You can find out more about Kiyoshi on his website,, or on Instagram @trainfromwithin. You can also start your own health and wellness journey by signing up for a free PDF with journal questions and exercises to help you overcome negative self-talk and change your mindset at 
Andrew Ousley is the founder of Unison Media, one of the top PR and Marketing companies for classical music, opera and performing arts. He formed the company based on the principles of honesty, transparency, and holding himself and his staff to a higher standard of results. Clients of Unison Media include some of the leading artists in the field of classical music, including conductor Gustavo Dudamel, tenor Lawrence Brownlee, jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, and more. Mr. Ousely also curates, presents and produces Unison's award-winning concert series The Crypt Sessions, which was included among The New York Times'"Best Classical Music Performances of 2017." In 2018 he launched a sister series, The Angel's Share, in the Catacombs of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, which was featured in Vogue, The New York Times, NPR and many more, and whose opening opera The Rose Elf was WQXR's 'Best New Opera of 2018. In his spare time, Andrew runs Burger Club, a group that tastes and rates burgers all around the New York city area, and his photographs have been published in the Associated Press, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, and more. The Question of the Week is, "How can classical musicians think more creatively about our art form?" Andrew and I discuss the mindset that led to his incredible concerts "Death of Classical", how classical musicians can effectively curate relationships with audiences, how he defines the current classical music experience and the areas for improvement, why it's not enough just to be good at your craft any more, and how he thinks young musicians can present classical music more creatively. You can find out more about Andrew on his website,, and I would like to recommend listeners to check out the Death of Classical website and Instagram, at and @deathofclassical, respectively. 
Loving the idiosyncratic and the zany, Lainie Fefferman is a composer, performer, and experimenter in the performative application of emergent music technologies. Her most recent commissions have been from Tenth Intervention, So Percussion, Make Music NY, Experiments in Opera, ETHEL, Kathleen Supové, TILT Brass, James Moore, Eleonore Oppenheim, JACK Quartet, and Dither. Her one-woman voice & electronics feminist song performance project "White Fire," an electroacoustic meditation on the heroines of the Hebrew Bible, premiered at Merkin Hall in 2016 and she has been touring it internationally ever since. She is a co-founder and director of New Music Gathering, an annual conference/festival hybrid event for the international New Music Community. She got her doctorate in composition from Princeton University and is a programming/performing member of Princeton-based laptop ensemble Sideband. She is currently a professor of Music & Technology at Stevens Institute of Technology and recently concluded her time as artist in residence at Nokia Bell Labs.The Question of the Week is, "How can classical musicians balance their identities as people and as musicians?" Lainie and I discuss the dichotomy of living in the classical music world during the twenty-first century, why she likes to include fun facts about herself in her biography, how she thinks about audiences during her compositional process, and how she would define a happy, healthy, and balanced musician. You can find out more about Lainie on her website,, and on Instagram @lainiebobainie.
My guest this week is performer, educator, and arts administrator, Joseph H. Conyers. Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 and has been acting associate principal since 2017. Described by the Grand Rapids Press as “a lyrical musician who plays with authenticity that transcends mere technique,” Conyers has performed with numerous orchestras as soloist including the Alabama, Flagstaff, & Richmond Symphonies, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Sphinx Symphony. As a chamber musician, Conyers is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centerand has collaborated with artists that include James Ehnes, Daniel Hope, and members of the Emerson String Quartet. Conyers is committed to education and community engagement through music. He is currently on the faculty of the Juilliard School (NY) and Temple University (PA). Conyers has taught at numerous summer music festivals and has given masterclasses and lectures across the country including Colburn School, Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, Yale University, and the Peabody Conservatory. Mr. Conyers is also the Founder and Executive Director of Project 440, an organization that uses music as a tool to engage, educate, and inspire young musicians – providing them with career and life skills to become tomorrow’s civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders. Partners have included Carnegie Hall, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Curtis Institute of Music, the New York State Summer School of the Arts, and The Settlement Music School (PA).The Question of the Week is, "How can classical musicians keep their passion alive?" Mr. Conyers and I discuss how he believes classical musicians can keep their passion going, if he ever gets burnt out, how he sees music affecting his students through his non-profit Project 440, why classical music belongs to everyone, and why it is important for classical musicians to use social media.You can find out more about Joseph Conyers on Instagram @weatherclef
Dr. Stephen Rodgers is Professor of Music Theory and Musicianship at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, where he has been teaching since 2005. He writes about the relationship between music and poetry, focusing especially on German Lieder. His edited collection, The Songs of Fanny Hensel, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press, and he is currently working on a book about Clara Schumann’s songs and another about song and the musical aspects of poetry. Rodgers’s work extends beyond academia as well. He regularly gives pre-concert lectures for the Oregon Bach Festival and other local performing arts organizations, and he has performed several lecture-recitals throughout the United States. An Iowa native, he received his B.A. in Music and English from Lawrence University and his Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University. The Question of the Week is, "Why does music theory and analysis today feel so separate from performance?" Dr. Rodgers and I discuss the ever-widening chasm between theory and performance, how music education may not encourage students to prioritize analysis and theory in there performances, how his time as a Professor of Music Theory has informed his own musicality and performance, and the tools of musical analysis that he believes are important. 
Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness, making her an acute interpreter of 21st- century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful, and exploding with life.” Jessie was born and raised in Manhattan's Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point in its history. Artists gravitated to the hotbed of artistic experimentation and community development. Her parents - her father a musician, her mother a theater artist and storyteller - were engaged in the activities of the neighborhood and regularly brought Jessie to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movements of the time. It is from this unique experience that Jessie has created a life that merges composing, performance, education, and advocacy. Since 1999, Jessie has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African - American and Latinx musicians. She currently serves as composer-in-residence of the Sphinx Virtuosi, their Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. She was a two-time laureate of the Annual Sphinx Competition and was awarded their highest honor, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. She has received additional grants and awards from the ASCAP Foundation, Chamber Music America, AMerican Composers Orchestra, the Joyce Foundation, and the Sorel Organization. The New York Philharmonic has selected Jessie as a featured composer for their Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, granting equal voting rights in the United States to women. Other forthcoming works include a nonet inspired by the Great Migration, told from the perspective of Montgomery’s great-grandfather William McCauley and to be performed by Imani Winds and the Catalyst Quartet; a cello concerto for Thomas Mesa jointly commissioned by Carnegie Hall, New World Symphony, and The Sphinx Organization; and a new orchestral work for the National Symphony. The Question of the Week is, "What will the next period of classical music look like?" Ms. Montgomery and I discuss what she believes will define the next period of classical music, how to avoid making the same mistakes as our predecessors when writing the narrative of classical music, the widening skillsets of classical musicians, and why it is important for musicians to know how to improvise. You can find out more about Jessie Montgomery and her amazing music on her website, 
Called “contemporary chamber trailblazers” by the Boston Globe, Hub New Music — composed of flute, clarinet, violin, and cello — is forging new pathways in 21st-century repertoire. The ensemble’s ambitious commissioning projects and “appealing programs” (New Yorker) celebrate the rich diversity of today’s classical music landscape. In recent seasons, HNM’s performances have been described as “gobsmacking” (Cleveland Classical), “innovative” (WBUR), and “the cutting edge of new classical music” (Taos News). Hub New Music brings its passion for adventurous and relevant programming to global audiences as both a quartet and as collaborative artists. Recent projects include Matsuri with shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki and the Asia / America New Music Institute (AANMI); The Nature of Breaking, a 30-minute collaborative work with composer/harpist Hannah Lash; Requiem for the Enslaved, an evening length mass by Carlos Simon supported by Georgetown University’s GU272 Project that honors the lives of 272 African American slaves and their descendants; and a choreographed production of Robert Honstein’s Soul House with Boston’s Urbanity Dance. The Question of the Week is, "What makes a piece of music special?" This week, we discuss what makes a piece of music special to each of the group's members, the process of curating a concert program to optimize the audience experience, how to find the special quality within a piece of contemporary music, how delving into different areas of the classical music field affects your musicality, and the group's amazing new album, Soul House. You can find out more about Hub New Music on their website, and hear their new album, Soul House, on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. 
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store