Tom Huizenga

Tom Huizenga is a music producer, reporter and blogger for NPR Music. He hosts NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence.

A regular contributor of stories about classical music on NPR's news programs, Huizenga regularly introduces intriguing new classical CDs to listeners on the weekend version of All Things Considered. He contributes to NPR Music's "Song of the Day."

During his time at NPR, Huizenga spent seven years as a producer, writer and editor for NPR's Peabody Award-winning daily classical music magazine Performance Today, and for the programs SymphonyCast and World of Opera. He produced the live broadcast of Gershwin's Porgy & Bess from Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, concerts from NPR's Studio 4A and performances on the road at Summerfest La Jolla, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and New York's Le Poisson Rouge.

Huizenga's radio career began at the University of Michigan, where he graduated in 1986. During his four year tenure, he regularly hosted several radio programs (opera, jazz, free-form, experimental radio) at Ann Arbor's WCBN. As a student in the Enthnomusicology department, Huizenga studied and performed traditional court music from Indonesia. He also studied English Literature and voice, while writing for the university's newspaper.

After college Huizenga took his love of music and broadcasting to New Mexico, where he served as music director for NPR member station KRWG, in Las Cruces, and taught radio production at New Mexico State University.

Huizenga lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife Valeska Hilbig, a public affairs director at the Smithsonian. In his spare time he writes about music for the Washington Post, overloads on concerts and movies and swings a tennis racket wildly on many local courts.

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Arts & Life
8:51 am
Thu July 17, 2014

'La Marseillaise' Unmasked: A Bastille Day Puzzler

Citizens of Paris, headed by the National Guards, storm the Bastille prison in an event which has come to be seen as the start of the French Revolution, 14th July 1789.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 14, 2014 7:52 am

"The Star Spangled Banner" turns 200 this year, and the attention it's been getting is again a reminder of how difficult it is for many Americans to sing our national anthem.

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Arts & Life
8:54 am
Fri June 13, 2014

The Composer As Sphinx: A Richard Strauss Puzzler

Composer Richard Strauss in London in 1914.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 10:12 am

Music by Richard Strauss is heard in symphony halls and opera houses across the world. He needs little help to boost his considerable fame. Yet 150 years after his birth, the German composer remains an enigma to some classical music fans and a polarizing figure for others. A perfect candidate, in other words, for a musical puzzler.

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Arts & Life
8:52 am
Fri June 13, 2014

The Concerto: A 400-Year-Old Recipe That Still Cooks

American composer John Adams has written a new concerto for saxophone.
Nonesuch

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 10:29 am

The concerto. It's a musical recipe more than 400 years old but composers still cook with it. And why shouldn't they? We still seem to crave the sound of a virtuosic soloist playing with (and often against) an orchestra. As in centuries past, virtuosos still inspire, and in many cases commission, composers to write some of their best music, which can push an instrument to its creative limit.

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Arts & Life
11:19 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Simone Dinnerstein: Tiny Desk Concert

Simone Dinnerstein performs a Tiny Desk Concert in April 2014.
Jim Tuttle NPR

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 1:32 pm

Almost any pianist, from a budding beginner to a pro like Simone Dinnerstein, will tell you that one of the basic techniques of keyboard playing is also the toughest to master: making your hands to do separate things simultaneously.

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Deceptive Cadence
6:23 am
Mon June 2, 2014

The Silence And Awe Of Arvo Pärt

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, creator of contemplative music, photographed in 1990 by influential patron Betty Freeman.
Betty Freeman ECM Records

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 11:54 am

Arvo Pärt is one of the few living composers to find popularity beyond the borders of classical music. R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Bjork are big fans.

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Arts & Life
10:48 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Asleep In Dress Blues: Music For Memorial Day

A lone bugler plays "Taps" during a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 26, 2014 7:52 am

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Arts & Life
9:00 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Anonymous 4: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (But They're Doing It)

The vocal ensemble Anonymous 4 will disband after the 2015-16 concert season.
Dario Acosta

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 11:01 am

In 1986, four women gathered in a casual setting to sing through a bit of medieval chant. Little did they know they were launching Anonymous 4, an a cappella ensemble that has spanned nearly 30 years, 20 albums, countless concerts and more than a millenium of music.

Today the group announced that the 2015-16 season will be its last together. But this isn't the first time Anonymous 4 has thought about calling it quits. The group bid a similar farewell in 2004.

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Arts & Life
11:03 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Pet Sounds: The NPR Music Critter Quiz

Animals are fun to pet. They also make great guest appearances in music.
Roberto A. Sanchez iStock.com

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:17 am

From as far back as we can tell, music makers have been inspired by the flora and especially the fauna around us. From tooting tunes on actual animal horns and bones, to musical portraits of creatures large and small, performers and composers of all stripes have included critters in their creations. In this puzzler, you must identify the creature depicted in the music.

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Arts & Life
11:01 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Angst And Excellence In Forgotten Soviet Symphonies

Vadim Salmanov's four symphonies are reissued in live performances conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky.
Melodiya

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 1:14 pm

Soviet composer Vadim Salmanov is little more than a footnote outside Russia, but his four energetic, skillfully orchestrated symphonies are making a small comeback. Russia's venerable Melodiya label has reissued them in a handsomely packaged double-disc set of live recordings made between 1957 and 1977.

Conducted with burning intensity by Yevgeny Mravinsky, Salmanov's rarely heard music soars off these albums with a sound that is thoroughly Russian yet charged with a certain Soviet-era anxiety.

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Arts & Life
12:09 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

New Music Shines at Classical Grammy Awards

Composer and bandleader Maria Schneider accepts her Grammy Award. Her album Winter Morning Walks earned three awards yesterday at the pre-telecast Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles.
Michael Buckner Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 2:52 pm

"New classical music is well and alive," Brad Wells, director of the vocal collective Roomful of Teeth, said yesterday as he accepted his Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

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Arts & Life
11:37 am
Thu January 2, 2014

High Notes And Clams: The Best And Worst Of Classical 2013

Sarah Joy Miller as Anna Nicole Smith in Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage, the final production from the New York City Opera, which closed its doors for good this fall.
Stephanie Berger

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 3:39 pm

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That could be the annual mantra for the classical music world. It has been predicted to crumble for decades, just as optimists continue to point to positive trends. This year is no different. Despite two ugly black eyes — the death of the New York City Opera and the continuing, bitter stalemate between the Minnesota Orchestra's (locked out) musicians and management — terrific music is being made by marvelous artists. Here we offer a short list of the best and worst of 2013.

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Arts & Life
8:52 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Bach Unwigged: The Man Behind The Music

This rare portrait of Bach, by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, hung in John Eliot Gardiner's home during World War II.
courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, N.J.

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 8:51 pm

Johann Sebastian Bach has been a central figure in the life of British conductor John Eliot Gardiner since he was a youngster. On his way to bed, he couldn't help glancing up at the famous 18th-century portrait of Bach that hung in the first floor landing of the old mill house in Dorset, England where Gardiner was born.

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Arts & Life
8:28 am
Wed August 28, 2013

Singing And Sandwiches For A Tenor's Centennial

New York native Richard Tucker in the title role of Offenbach's The Tales Of Hoffmann.
Sedge LeBlang Metopolitan Opera Archives

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 9:21 am

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Arts & Life
8:47 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Daniel Hope's Earth And Sky Expedition

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 8:33 am

When Daniel Hope was a boy, the only thing he loved as much as his violin was his telescope. Gazing into the night sky, he pondered the vastness of space. Now a grown man, Hope still has a penchant for wonder and discovery — especially when it comes to music.

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Arts & Life
9:00 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Why Are American Orchestras Afraid Of New Symphonies?

David Robertson, a passionate champion of new music, conducts the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on tour in Berlin.
Dilip Vishwanat St. Louis Symphony

Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 11:22 am

  • The American Symphony: Music And Ideas With David Robertson

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