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.

Last week we asked you to do some musical soul-searching — and boy, did we get responses. In the first day, 250 people commented on the blog post "You Are What You Hear: What Your Favorite Music Says About You." Several thousand more comments have since rolled in via social media.

Poor Jules Massenet. How could the most successful French opera composer of his generation fall so far out of fashion? Perhaps the new 23-CD box set of Massenet's music, marking the 100th anniversary of his death (yesterday), holds some clues.

One of the toughest tricks for a singer to pull off is putting a fresh face on each composer in a program. All too often, the Handel starts sounding like the Mozart, which in turn takes on too much of the Verdi and it all becomes indistinguishable.

Some people are intimidated by the vastness of classical music. And while the prospect of more than 1,000 years of hits to consider may be daunting, just think instead of how many musical journeys of discovery can be made.

Canadian rower Michael Braithwaite is pumped and probably a little nervous. It's the day before the double sculls (two person team) competition at the London Olympics and the British Columbia native is hoping his strong arms and shoulders will bring him gold.

The grumbling of Londoners and the off-putting remarks of Mitt Romney are all but forgotten now as the 2012 Summer Olympics are in spectacular full swing. From here on out the race for the gold continues.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Who needs them, who's going to get them and who might lose them? It's a hot topic on the campaign trail. With the addition of only about 80,000 jobs last month, the June unemployment rate remained at a stubborn 8.2 percent.

Robin Ticciati is the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Bamberg Symphony in Germany. He's conducted at the Metropolitan Opera and just finished a run of Britten's Peter Grimes at La Scala. Ticciati has also been tapped to take over England's storied Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014. And did I mention he's under 30?

With the July Fourth holiday behind us, now is the time to map out a musical adventure. Below is a sampling of just a few of the dozens of summer classical music festivals around the country, grouped by region. From outdoor extravaganzas and picturesque locales to intimate indoor settings, live music thrives in the summertime. Been to a good summer fest not listed here? Tell us all about it.


Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland was an American original in more ways than one. It's not just his music, with its openness and simple elegance. It's that he expected ballet dancers to act like cowboys, pianists to play blues and orchestra players to accompany political speechmaking. His Lincoln Portrait, composed during World War II, matches words from our 16th president with symphonic music.

Every musician practices differently. Some turn their own living rooms into rehearsal spaces. Others, like pianist Jonathan Biss, prefer to step out of the comforts of home and into a studio. "It's a more productive way of working," Biss told us as we barged in with cameras and microphones.

For New York Polyphony, it's location, location, location. The four-man vocal ensemble thrives on music from the Renaissance, much of it designed for cavernous, reverberant spaces. Think voices soaring through arched cathedrals. But madrigals by Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso, with their more intimate storytelling vibe, are suited for smaller venues — like, say, the living room of New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips.

Armed with cameras and microphones, we recently invaded the rehearsal spaces of prominent musicians. The result is "In Practice," a new series of videos you can watch here.

The four-man vocal ensemble New York Polyphony sings ancient music built for big resonant spaces. Since they can't just pop into St. Patrick's Cathedral any time they need to practice a renaissance mass, the group rehearses sometimes in the Jackson Heights home of bass singer Craig Phillips. There, in a modest-sized living room, they can hear every detail. "It's a very different experience rehearsing in a dry room and a small room," says tenor Geoffrey Silver. "You actually hear what you and your colleagues are singing, there's no watercolor wash over what you are doing."

It's tough to concentrate on the rigors of Beethoven with jackhammers pounding in your ears. So when they started demolishing the building next to Jonathan Biss, he moved his piano out of his apartment into a separate studio, away from the commotion. "I would get up in the morning, the piano wasn't there, and I had to leave my apartment to go practice and I've decided that's a much more productive way of working," he says. Biss needs a good working environment for his massive project.

Jeremy Denk has his own personal "piano boot camp." Actually, it's his cramped Manhattan apartment. Beside his beloved books, a trusty coffee pot and a laptop, there's not much to do except practice. Which Denk does, hours and hours a day on a Steinway wedged into his living room. On a good day, he brews pot of coffee number one at about 11, then plays for about five hours. Perhaps a run to the gym, then pot number two is brewed at about 6, followed by more playing — until the neighbors complain.

If the classical music record industry is trouble, you'd never know it by looking at my desk, or that of my colleague Anastasia Tsioulcas — mountains of good old-fashioned compact discs, ready for listening. And our digital space is also getting crowded by more and more downloads. It all adds up to a super broad range of music and musicians. As the year is half over, we've taken stock of a few (of our many) favorites and surprises so far. Listen to our discussion above and hear longer excerpts below of some of the best classical releases of 2012.

(Classical Detours meanders through stylistic byways, exploring new recordings from the fringes of classical music.)

My two-week stay in Europe ended earlier this week with a stroke of luck: My German father-in-law gave me his beautiful old violin, the one he's played since he was 11. But getting it back safely to the U.S. was more of a problem than I imagined.

Although it always seems fashionable to forecast the downfall of classical music, enterprising musicians both young and not so young continue to make deeply satisfying recordings. For this visit to weekends on All Things Considered, I was delighted to uncover the little known (at least in this country) Jorge Luis Prats, a terrifically talented Cuban pianist whose once uncertain career appears to be resurging — at 55, he has signed a handsome record deal. Then there's The Knights, a young chamber orchestra with a postmodern take on Schubert.

Everyone knows Beethoven wrote nine symphonies, right? Or did he? Undiscovered manuscripts keep popping up all the time. Uncovering a lost 10th symphony by Beethoven would surely give the classical music world something to shout about.

It could happen — at least it could according to our colleagues over at Weekend Edition Sunday. Reporter Naomi Lewin carefully unfolds the mysterious saga of a new Beethoven discovery, as a part of our April 1 news coverage.

What's the saying — the more things change, the more they stay the same? It seems that's how it goes in the ways we make music. MIT futurologist Tod Machover rethinks traditional instruments, coming up with new things like the hyperpiano; Pianist Michael Chertock gives it a go in an explosive excerpt below.

With all the chatter about the death of the compact disc, anxiety in the recording industry and the domination of downloads, the flood of CDs overflowing my mailbox never seems to recede. Need a new Bruckner 4th, an Adès anthology or piano music by Pärt? How about Azerbaijani concertos, Schubert sonatas or a new Midsummer Night's Dream?

Gabriel Kahane seems to enjoy blurring the lines between indie rock and indie classical. He arrived at the NPR Music offices with a string quartet and an electric guitarist in tow, and though they hadn't played together for long, you'd never know it.

Opera fanatics often trot out the tired old complaint about how "they don't make 'em like they used to" while pining for the great singers of the past. But as an unabashed opera nerd, I can tell you that the sound of the "golden age" is alive in the voice of tenor Joseph Calleja. He's a young singer with an old-school sensibility, and he's just released his third album for Decca Records.