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.

It was December 1990 — more than a year before the first Anonymous 4 album was released — when NPR invited four slightly shy women into our studio to sing 13th-century Christmas music. Back then, we already knew the manifold beauty of their sound, its purity and accuracy, was something unique.

Now, some 25 years and 21 albums later, the a cappella vocal quartet is calling it quits at the end of 2015. But not before one final visit to NPR.

Arvo Pärt was saved by the bell. The Estonian composer, who turns 80 in September, hit a creative roadblock in 1968. After a hiatus of eight years he returned with a new sound inspired by the simple triad (a stack of three notes, an essential building block of Western music) and by bells. He called his new style tintinnabuli (from the Latin for bells).

Whether it's warranted or not, classical music wonks are perennially worried about the next generation of fans.

It seems there's less need to fret when you hear cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Christopher O'Riley. Some 15 years ago, they were already chipping away at the barriers — both real and perceived — between classical and pop.

The Bachelor, the reality TV show poised to close out another nail-biting season (which young woman will Chris Soules choose Monday?), has nothing on opera. Over the past 400 years, composers have placed onstage any number of hot-blooded Romeos, sensible gentlemen and conniving psychopaths all looking for the perfect mate.

Pavarotti, roll over. There's a new king of the high Cs. His name is Bryan Hymel and he pops off no fewer than 10 of them in "Asile héréditaire," the Rossini aria that opens his new album Héroïque, released Tuesday.

Music lexicographer Theodore Baker, in his biographical dictionary of musicians, labeled J.S. Bach as the "supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music." And while Bach may have blanched had he read such a description, there is absolute power to much of his music.

Even trailblazing composers like Steve Reich sometimes look to the distant past for inspiration. His 1993 Duet for two violins and strings is music in which minimalism reaches back to its ancient roots. These six minutes of mesmerizing sunshine recall both the rigorous counterpoint of J.S.

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. A riot broke out, sparking successive nights of protest and, many say, the emergence of the modern gay rights movement.

They're celebrating Down Under. Today is Australia Day, a holiday marking the arrival of British ships at Sydney Harbour in 1788. A perfect day then to salute something truly Australian, something that speaks of national pride, austere landscapes and even the darker side of Australian history — the music of Peter Sculthorpe, who died last year at age 85.

The day composer John Luther Adams won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for his symphonic seascape Become Ocean, I tracked him down in Houghton, Mich., in the northernmost reaches of the Upper Peninsula. Over a crackly phone line, Adams — who turns 62 Friday — said he never thought much about a career with a capital C.

Pill popping, pot smoking, back-stabbing, bed hopping and tantrum throwing — now we're talking classical music! At least that's what the new Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle would have us believe is all in a day's work for orchestra musicians. The 10-part series is based on a tell-all book of the same name published a decade ago by oboist Blair Tindall.

Farewells are never easy, especially when you're saying goodbye to a favorite musician. From conductors and composers to pianists, singers and critics, the classical music world lost many masterful musicians in 2014.

It's another new year and with it comes more resolutions, decisions and responsibilities.

How do you get off to a good start? That's a question many composers ask themselves when writing a piece of music. Some dive right in — BAM! Others ease into a new composition gently. See if you can identify these opening measures of music. Score high and consider yourself good to go for 2015. Score low and think about starting all over again!

Most years, Tom Huizenga and I spend a lot of time after Thanksgiving and well into December battling over — or, more truthfully, having many friendly but spirited discussions about — which recordings should comprise our 10 favorites of the year. We each come up with a list of 10, and then we start hammering things out in some amount of exquisite music-nerd agony. Some albums we agree upon, some are our individual picks.

Don't ask the members of the Dublin Guitar Quartet to play the time-honored classics of the Spanish repertoire. They might play traditional Spanish style classical guitars, but they're not your standard guitar ensemble. The Dubliners are strictly devoted to contemporary music. They've been commissioning new pieces and adapting others for both acoustic and electric guitars since 2002, when the group formed at the Dublin Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Mix a bit of yodeling with Tuvan throat singing, add in a pinch of Sardinian cantu a tenore, fold in compositions from cutting-edge composers and you have the vocal group Roomful of Teeth.

In November 1814, Col. Andrew Jackson marched on Pensacola, taking the Florida city away from Britain and Spain, while the Congress of Vienna was busy drawing new boundaries after the Napoleonic Wars. And 200 years ago today, in a little 10th-century town south of Brussels, Adolphe Sax was born.

Sax learned instrument-building from his father and soon was inventing new instruments of his own, including the one that bears his name. He patented the saxophone in 1846.

Where would Halloween be without ghosts — those wispy spirits either friendly or fiendish in disposition? They've haunted our consciousness for ages, thanks to appearances in visual art, literature, film and music. And now they've overrun this puzzler. From country and classical to rock and jazz, ghosts glide through these songs. Some are nice, others nefarious. Score high and allow yourself to be treated today. Score low and consider yourself tricked.

An abundance of facial hair is not restricted to the sensitive male indie-rocker set. Three of the four players in the Danish String Quartet could easily pass for hipster Brooklyn beard farmers. "We are simply your friendly neighborhood string quartet with above average amounts of beard," the group's website says.

Yet what's really important about the ensemble is how they play — and judging from this performance behind Bob Boilen's desk, these Nordic lads possess warmth, wit, a beautiful tone and technical prowess second to none.

Denmark may be small — smaller than West Virginia — but its musical impact is disproportionately big. Since the late 19th century, some of the best symphonists have hailed from the Scandinavian country, and though they may not be household names in the U.S., their works have influence far beyond their homeland.

A few weeks ago, in an act of brazen thievery, your devoted NPR Classical hosts appropriated an idea from our colleague Bob Mondello, NPR's film critic. Each Friday he tweets movie suggestions for the weekend.

The votes are in. The people of Scotland have chosen to remain in the United Kingdom. To mark the historic occasion, a wee reminder of what the Scots have contributed to classical music is in order.

Today is Mexican Independence Day. On Sept. 16, 1810, the Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") was delivered in the town of Dolores near the city of Guanajuato, marking the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence that ended Spanish rule.

Alas, it is déjà vu all over again for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. At midnight Saturday, the ASO musicians and management failed to meet the deadline to agree on a new contract after eight months of negotiations. That means the players, while still employees of the orchestra, are effectively locked out of the Woodruff Arts Center (the orchestra's home) and will not receive paychecks until a new agreement can be ratified.

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