Top 10 classical highlights  header

Peter Bay conducts a kazoo symphony in the William Tell Overture, in just one of this year's greatest moments. Photo Credit: KMFA's 50th Birthday Block Party. Katrina Barber Photography. January 2017. 

KMFA brings you our annual round-up of the best news, arrivals, and performances in the Austin classical community from the last year.

1. KMFA’s 50th Birthday Block Party: This free, community-wide event with over 2,000 attendees included a live broadcast by KMFA announcers, a line-up of prominent classical music acts, and—who could forget—the once-in-a-lifetime kazoo symphony with Maestro Peter Bay conducting.

2. New Focus at Austin Opera: Since the arrival of Annie Burridge in late 2016, the Austin Opera has been focused on attracting a younger and more diverse audience. From a Carmen set in 1970s-era Spain to a taco truck at intermission at the Long Center H-E-B Terrace to hiring a full-time audience experience specialist, Burridge is setting her sights high.

3. TEMP’s “Monteverdi 1600”: Texas Early Music Project gave two outstanding performances of Monteverdi's Vespers under the expert direction of Daniel Johnson, which were broadcast by KMFA, and included heart-stopping poly-choral works, operatic writing for small ensemble, and glorious strings and winds!

4. REVEL Unclassified: KMFA host and pianist Carla McElhaney cultivated communities of classical listeners across ATX through a weekly arts-infused brunch at 4th Tap Brewing Co-op last year, and presented a total of 34 concerts. The final concert of the year featured readings of poetry accompanied by Philip Glass, Appalachian melodies, and more performed by Austin’s one-and-only invoke.

5. Strange in Other Ways: The premiere of Travis Weller’s new choral work, performed by Panoramic Voices, line upon line, and New Music Co-Op was not to be missed!  And KMFA was lucky enough to be the first to broadcast it.

6. Huston-Tillotson Receives 15 New Steinways: It was good news for all of Austin when HTU received an anonymous gift to purchase new Steinways, because it boosted an already strong music program. And we got to preview the improved sound at their annual holiday concert, “Celebrating the Season”!

7. Butler School of Music awards $5000 Rainwater Innovation Grants: This newly launched program encouraged music students to “challenge the usual way of doing things and reach unexpected audiences, thus advancing the field of music in a provocative and productive way.” Last year’s recipients included Austin Camerata, Lab Orchestra, prismatx ensemble, and more!

8. Pancho Villa From A Safe Distance: Austin composer Graham Reynolds and singers Paul Sanchez and Liz Cass starred in an experimental chamber opera about the legendary bandit, which they performed at the Fusebox Festival.

9.”KMFA - A Celebratory Overture”: Dan Welcher’s work commissioned by KMFA was premiered by the Austin Symphony, with subsequent performances by the Texas Festival Orchestra at Round Top, and the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra.

10.“Cuarteto Latinoamericano - Miniatures from Americas”: Austin was in for a treat when this masterful ensemble took a journey through the Americas with tiny musical snapshots of sounds, characters, and images. The performance featured works by Gershwin, Piazzolla, and Ponce as part of the Austin Chamber Music Festival.