This Week in Classical Music 9/29/2017

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Carreras Retires;

Why Orchestras play Behind the Beat


It’s This Week in Classical Music, an update on what’s happening in the classical music world; I‘m Randy Kinkel.


It's been a rough couple of weeks for opera fans.  First Kiri Te Kanawa announced her retirement… and now another great singer says He’s also leaving the stage … Jose Carreras, who started singing in the 1970s with a meltingly beautiful tenor voice and movie-star good looks was well on his way to operatic stardom before he was 30; he sold millions of recordings during his almost 50 year career.

At age 40 he was stricken with leukemia, and underwent months of grueling chemo. He didn’t know if he would live, let alone sing again. But he recovered, and went on to pop star status with The Three Tenors, with Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Since then  Carreras has enjoyed a career mostly as a concert artist, while also working with his leukemia foundation.   The 70 year old Carreras says he is retiring from singing, but not before a 2 year long world tour.


When you watch a classical concert Why does it seem like the orchestra is playing behind the conductor’s beat? The simple answer is that when an orchestra plays behind the conductor, it has the room to produce a more expressive sound.

JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic and Virginia Symphony orchestras, said, “It works so well because the musicians can take in …more information before they play”. Waiting a tick allows the Orchestra to take in the trajectory, speed and style of a conductor’s beat, which helps them determine what kind of sound the conductor wants. “It gives them a chance to prepare that sound. So the downbeat comes, and the sound opens after that.” Falletta says.

To come in accurately, a player must guess HOW late the group sound will be compared to the visual cue. The conductor doesn’t  react to the lag, but has to continue to give the beat steadily…”

After years in the Biz, Falletta is still fascinated by the phenomenon. “The orchestras that have played together for some time just know how to do it. It’s very mysterious …



For more on these and other items and events, go to the website,; be listening each week at this time for another update; find us on Facebook and follow us on twitter; and join US every Weekday at noon with Linda Cassidy for “The Most Wanted Hour”, playing your top 100 picks in Classical Music…I’m Randy Kinkel, for This week in classical music.