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
8:05 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Best Classical Albums Of 2014

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Become Ocean by John Luther Adams is one of NPR Classical's favorite albums of 2014.
Cantaloupe

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 10:59 am

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.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:27 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Dublin Guitar Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:09 pm

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.

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Deceptive Cadence
1:26 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Guest DJ Jessye Norman: From Augusta To Valhalla

Soprano Jessye Norman leaves the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York on Thursday after taping the Late Show with David Letterman.
Ray Tamarra WireImage

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 5:28 am

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Tiny Desk Concerts
4:15 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Roomful Of Teeth: Tiny Desk Concert

Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 5:15 pm

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.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Sax Ed: The NPR Music Saxophone Quiz

Adolphe Sax's invention has found its way into many styles of music. Here, Clarence Clemons plays the tenor sax with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Lexington, Ky., in 1984.
Lexington Herald-Leader Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:04 am

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.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Wed October 29, 2014

Ghosts In The Music: A Spooky Songs Quiz

Ghosts, both friendly and fiendish, make appearances in a wide range of songs.
iStockphoto.com

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.

Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat October 25, 2014

Danish String Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Starff

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.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:58 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Great Danes: Three Symphonic Albums By Danish Composers

A 1931 portrait of Danish composer Carl Nielsen by Sigurd Swane. Nielsen's symphonies are still undervalued.
Alfredo Dagli Orti The Art Arc

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.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:33 am
Sun October 19, 2014

After 200 Years, A Schubert Song Still Resonates

Scottish-American soprano Mary Garden (1874-1967) portrayed Goethe's character Gretchen, known as Marguerite in Charles Gounod's opera Faust.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 7:32 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
9:32 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Everything You Wanted To Know About Classical Music (But Weren't Afraid To Ask)

Khatia Buniatishvili's new album, Motherland, is among those recommended during the Friday afternoon Twitter sessions.
Sony Classical

Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 9:55 am

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.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:47 am
Fri September 19, 2014

If It's Not Scottish ... Classical Contributions Of The Scots

The Scottish bagpipes make a surprise appearance in a beloved piece by Peter Maxwell Davies.
iStockphoto

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.

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All Songs Considered
1:01 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Gotta Know Mexico: A Mexican Music Puzzler

Couples dance in Vera Cruz, Mexico with government buildings decorated for Independence Day celebrations.
Mockford & Bonetti Getty Iimages

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.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:26 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Listen To The Atlanta Symphony While It's Locked Out — Again

Robert Spano conducts members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, who are now locked out for the second time in two years after failed contract negotiations.
J.D. Scott Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

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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Deceptive Cadence
4:38 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 7:53 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
10:49 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Great Expectations: A New Season Of New Music

Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain receives its world premiere at Santa Fe Opera in the coming season.
Ken Howard Santa Fe Opera

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 7:57 pm

Musicologist and pianist Charles Rosen once quipped: "The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition." But it's tough to see much gloom when faced with the diversity of premieres and provocative programming around the country in the 2014-2015 season.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:08 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

A Surge Of Scarlatti Sonatas

Each of Domenico Scarlatti's 555 keyboard sonatas has its own personality.
Wikimedia

Three centuries ago a man named Domenico Scarlatti churned out an enormous number of keyboard sonatas — more than 550. Pianists, harpsichordists and even accordionists still can't get enough these inventive, bite-sized pieces.

A clutch of Scarlatti albums have appeared this year and more are on the way. Albums from pianists Orion Weiss and Igor Kamez are due in the coming weeks. Here we offer a sampling of five recent releases.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:37 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Enigmatic Endings: A Farewell To Summer Quiz

Music can be like a fleeting summer. You get to the end wondering, "How did we get here already?"
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 3:40 pm

Well, it's happened again. Vacations are over. Kids are returning to school. "And where," you're wondering, "did my summer go?"

You can get the same feeling in music sometimes. No matter how long a piece is, its end might sneak up on you. Try this mysterious little quiz filled with fantastical finales and enigmatic endings. Score high and take an extra week off from work. Score low and get back to the grind.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:36 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Masters And Disasters: The Met Opera Quiz

Hojotoho! How much Metropolitan Opera trivia do you know?
Ken Howard Metropolitan Opera

Now that the embattled Metropolitan Opera has surmounted most of its labor squabbles, it's time to take a break from reading about the rancorous negotiations. See how many of these nerdworthy Met questions you can answer. Score high and bellow out your best Wagnerian "Hojotoho!" Score low and start learning the "Simpleton's aria" from Boris Godunov.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:09 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Pacifica Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

Pacifica Quartet performs a Tiny Desk Concert.
Olivia Merrion NPR

With this Tiny Desk Concert by the Grammy-winning Pacifica Quartet, we have the opportunity to explore the world of a single composer. With the arguable exception of Béla Bartók's six string quartets, it's generally accepted that the 15 by Dmitri Shostakovich are the strongest body of quartets since Beethoven.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sat August 16, 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 3:01 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
11:36 am
Wed August 13, 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

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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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Drum Fill Friday: Classical Headbanging Edition

John Bonham of Led Zeppelin at the Los Angeles-area Inglewood Forum in 1973.
Jeffrey Mayer WireImage

Sooner or later it had to happen — an all-classical Drum Fill Friday. This week's puzzler proves that the world of Beethoven, Stravinsky and Bartók can serve up beats as thunderous as any double drummer metal band.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:50 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Ask Us Anything About Beethoven

Portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler, ca. 1818.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 12:29 pm

What do you know about Beethoven? He wrote the Fifth Symphony (da da da dummmm ...) and he became deaf.

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Deceptive Cadence
6:00 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Meet The Cast Of The Met Opera's Labor Drama

Members of the American Guild of Musical Artists and the American Federation of Musicians, two of the unions embroiled in contract negotiations with Metropolitan Opera management, rally this morning at Dante Park across from Lincoln Center.
Jeff Lunden for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 1:37 pm

Think opera plots are tough to follow? Try wading through the complicated drama playing out offstage at the Metropolitan Opera. At its most basic, it's the story of management and labor unions fighting over a supposedly dwindling pot of money.

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Deceptive Cadence
5:00 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 2:37 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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Deceptive Cadence
8:03 am
Mon July 14, 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 8:52 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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Deceptive Cadence
8:03 am
Fri July 11, 2014

A Voice Of Velvet And Bronze: Carlo Bergonzi At 90

Tenor Carlo Bergonzi as Radames in Verdi's Aida in 1956, the year of his Metropolitan Opera debut.
Metropolitan Opera Archives

Carlo Bergonzi endures. Not only is the Italian tenor approaching his 90th birthday (on July 13) but for decades he sang with tireless warmth and precision, representing a certain old school approach to carefully cultivating one's vocal resources.

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All Songs Considered
9:01 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Best Songs Of The Year (So Far) Puzzler

"Vengo" by Ana Tijoux is one of NPR Music's favorite songs of the year (so far).
Courtesy of the artist

The year is half over and that means NPR Music and our public radio partners have been obsessing over our favorite songs of the year so far. The full list of 50 songs makes a potent stew ranging from power pop and brash hip-hop to electro-fueled dance music and intimate portraits from jazz vocalists, classical guitarists and folk troubadours.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
10:29 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Tracy Silverman: Tiny Desk Concert

Olivia Merrion NPR

Tracy Silverman has been called the greatest living exponent of the electric violin. But we're not talking just any electric violin.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:05 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Sounds Of A Summer Night Puzzler

At the Moab Music Festival in Utah, summer night performances take place in picturesque settings.
Richard Bowditch Moab Music Festival

Summer has officially breezed in with not only longer days but also sultry nights. There's something about summer nights that inspires composers — perhaps a certain stillness in the air or the allure of a new romance. To mark the changing of the season, test your ears in this nocturnal puzzler dedicated to musical snapshots of warm summer evenings. Score high and turn the air conditioner up a notch. Score low and sweat it out till morning.

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