Tom Huizenga

Tom Huizenga is a music producer, reporter and blogger for NPR Music.

He is a regular contributor of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and co-hosts NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence.

Joining NPR in 1999, Huizenga spent seven years as a producer, writer and editor for NPR's Peabody Award-winning daily classical music show Performance Today and for programs SymphonyCast and World of Opera.

He's produced live concerts, including a radio broadcast of Gershwin's Porgy & Bess from Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center and NPR's first classical music webcast from the Manhattan club (Le) Poisson Rouge, featuring the acclaimed Emerson String Quartet. He's also asked musicians to play in unlikely venues, such as cellist Alisa Weilerstein playing Bach at the Baltimore Aquarium. He's written and produced radio specials, like A Choral Christmas With Stile Antico, broadcast on stations around the country.

Huizenga's radio career began at the University of Michigan, where he hosted opera, jazz, free-form, and experimental radio programs at Ann Arbor's WCBN. As a student in the Ethnomusicology department, Huizenga studied and performed traditional court music from Indonesia. He also studied English Literature and voice, while writing for the university's newspaper.

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. and in his spare time writes about music for the Washington Post and overloads on concerts and movies.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:56 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Enduringly Dramatic Italian Soprano Magda Olivero Dies At 104

Magda Olivero performing Francis Poulenc's one-woman opera La voix humaine at San Francisco Opera in 1979.
Ron Scherl Redferns/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 6:53 pm

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Arts & Life
9:10 am
Tue August 19, 2014

First Listen: Cameron Carpenter, 'If You Could Read My Mind'

Cameron Carpenter's new album, If You Could Read My Mind, comes out Aug. 26.
Thomas Grube Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 2:01 pm

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Arts & Life
9:02 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Soul-Searching Music From A Serene Desert Monastery

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert in northern New Mexico inspired Robert Kyr to compose the music on his new album of choral works.
Karen Kuehn for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 10:36 am

Inspiration can come from unlikely places. For composer Robert Kyr, the silence of a desert monastery is key to the radiant music on his new disc of recent choral works performed by the vocal ensemble Conspirare and its director Craig Hella Johnson.

Kyr travels frequently to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, in northern New Mexico, from his home in Eugene, Ore., where he teaches composition at the University of Oregon. Living among the monastery's Benedictine monks, Kyr hikes along the winding Chama River by day and composes music in a bare-walled room at night.

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Deceptive Cadence
7:44 am
Mon July 28, 2014

The Great War At 100: Music Of Conflict And Remembrance

Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein (who later became an American citizen) lost an arm in World War I. He commissioned composers including Maurice Ravel to write pieces for the left hand alone.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 1:37 pm

One hundred years ago today, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. The conflict drew in country after country and grew to an unprecedented scale. An estimated 9 million combatants lost their lives and more than 21 million were wounded in what came to be known as The Great War and, eventually, World War I.

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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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