Hear Essential Classics All Labor Day Weekend

The world of classical music goes back for centuries -- just one weekend barely allows us to present the all-time favorites in our playlist. Still, “Essential Classics” is a moment to showcase significant repertoire of today. Starting 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, CPR Classical offers listeners wall-to-wall essentials through Labor Day weekend.

What gets programmed each year reflects audience hits and the most-famous, yet as Music Director Jeff Zumfelde explains, creating an always-changing list also considers what is current or undiscovered. “We look a little broader in defining what is essential, it’s not just the piece, but also the performers or composers,” he says. “The music of Mary D. Watkins points to material we did not have in our playlist several years ago and is now a hit,” says Zumfelde, “…and you may have only heard of her music from us.”

Well-loved pieces from classical giants like Bach, Mozart, and Brahms will be staples throughout the weekend. Plus, you will hear performances by classical icons like cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Lang Lang, and rising superstar cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who rose to worldwide fame overnight while still in his teens. “What’s fun is putting the weekend together but also the listening experience. There are recognizable pieces that come from vastly different time periods, very different circumstances,” says Jeff Zumfelde. “Someone may have used the music to underscore a movie, or people used it during a moment of calm, some melodies are familiar. There’s always a connective element, but there are also newer pieces that achieve the same feeling.”

New to classical music? Long-time listener? Fantastic! Over five days, you will encounter or perhaps rediscover pieces that sum the essence of classical music. Listen live -- Thursday, August 31, 3:00 p.m. through Monday, September 3 -- and enjoy a Labor Day weekend experience of “must hear” recordings and time-tested masterpieces.

Classical Music 24/7

Listen to CPR Classical by clicking “Listen Live” at the top on this website, or download the Colorado Public Radio app. Listen on your radio to CPR Classical at 88.1 FM in Denver, or on radio signals around Colorado. You can also tell your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical."