Texas Public Radio Classical Music blog and other stories.

Austin-Based Mundi Coming To Urban 15

Mar 14, 2015
Courtesy photo

Guitarist Darrel Mayers, founder and director of the musical ensemble, Mundi, describes the group's approach as "chamber rock." When I asked him a few years ago how rock comes into the mix of violin, cello, bass, guitar, French horn, harmonium, and percussion, he said it is the drum kit, played by Ric Furley. The full drum set anchors the ensemble's stage presence, while adding a subtle contemporary drive to the mostly acoustic mix.

"At this stage, I had never heard the name Paul Hindemith. I saw it there on the page, but I wasn't even sure how to pronounce it and I had certainly not heard any of his music. But I said, 'it doesn't matter that I haven't heard of this cat.....but if he's good enough for Charlie Parker to want to come and sit at his feet and learn some music, that's good enough for me!'' Willie Ruff, speaking of making the decision, at the age of 17, to apply for admission to Yale, in hopes he might study with Paul Hindemith.

Musician Willie Ruff On Lockbourne Air Base In 1949

Mar 10, 2015

Musician and educator Willie Ruff was born in Sheffield, Alabama in 1931.  He was only 13 years old when his mother died. Relatives moved him north, where a cousin convinced him he should join the military. Forging his father's signature, Ruff was able to begin his military service at the age of 14. His commanding officer challenged him for misrepresenting his age, asking: "Does your mama know where you are?" When Ruff replied that his mama was dead the commander allowed Ruff to stay in the military.

It was supposed to be a celebratory occasion, a high-profile performance of a piece given life by the orchestra that commissioned it — a young composer's music played by other young musicians.

Instead, the performance scheduled for Sunday of Jonas Tarm's music at Carnegie Hall by the highly regarded New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has been canceled after it came to the attention of the ensemble's administration that the piece contains a quotation from the Nazi "Horst Wessel Lied."

Sidney Smith

I came across a musician who takes an instrument you know, and makes it do things you might not know it can do. He’s Gideon Freudmann, and he plays cello in very unexpected ways. 

(see music video at bottom)

He's performing in South Texas this month, and oddly, it's been quite difficult to get here. In fact, he’s been trying to get to Boerne for a long time. Someone there heard him on National Public Radio, and began a correspondence to get him to come here.