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Listen Labor Day weekend to Colorado Public Radio for all the hits, favorites and 'must hear' pieces in classical music - 100 straight hours!

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Listen this weekend starting Thursday at 2 p.m. for all the hits, favorites and "must hear" pieces in classical music. It's one essential classic after another for over 100 straight hours! 

What Makes a Classic "Essential"?

CPR Classical Music Director Jeff Zumfelde works to create just the right mix of music to get your heart relaxing, reveling, or revving this holiday weekend. And it's all about making connections big and small. Zumfelde looks for pieces that embody the essence of classical music and he sees that as a living thing. Each year the list of essentials is a little different. 

Historical threads are the starting point: music that has stood the test of time and is widely known -- Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, the melodies most people can hum like Vivaldi's Four Seasons or the aria Largo al factotum sung by the clever and rebellious Figaro in Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville. 

Zumfelde selects some essential pieces based on where and who we are as Americans: Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland, Symphony No. 1 "Afro-American" by William Grant Still and West Side Story: Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein. We'll hear performances that illustrate the musical riches of our state from the Colorado Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Kantorei, St. Martin's Chamber Choir and the Takacs Quartet, which just debuted its newest member this summer, violist Richard O'Neill. Local soloists this weekend include pianists Katie Mahan and David Korevaar as well as violinists Yumi Hwang-Williams, Charles Wetherbee and flutist Brook Ferguson - all part of Colorado's musical lifeblood and artists who often represent Colorado on the national and international stages. 

It's also essential to share the music of women who have broken musical barriers over time from Hildegard von Bingen in the 12th century through to Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann and Lili Boulanger. In America, women like Amy Beach, Margaret Bonds and Peggy Stuart Coolidge laid important groundwork for female composers. Others followed, like Joan Tower, Libby Larsen and Jennifer Higdon, paving the way for an increasing number of successful young women writing music in recent years, including Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, Reena Esmail and Missy Mazzoli.

The newest Essential Classic this weekend premiered just a few weeks ago for the centenary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. CPR Classical will broadcast Stacy Garrop's Battle for the Ballot on Saturday, September 5th at 1:00 p.m., featuring narrated quotes from white and African American suffragists.

Of course, we'll hear from essential superstar performers like cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, guitarist Sharon Isbin, violinists Itzhak Perlman, Rachel Barton Pine and Joshua Bell, soprano Renée Fleming, pianist Lang Lang and the inspiring conductor, Gustav Dudamel. 

"This is music for everybody because it's being made by everybody as well," says Zumfelde. "We invite people to see all of this music-making as a constant conversational stream of great stuff that we enjoy."

READ THE FULL Colorado Public Radio ARTICLE