What is your classical essential?

Essential Classics Weekend is back! It’s a long-standing tradition for CPR Classical. On both Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, it’s wall-to-wall essentials starting Thursday at 3 p.m. and running through Monday.

The requests are in!
Listen during the long weekend, starting Thursday afternoon through Memorial Day.

As your Essential Saturdays host, I get to think a lot about what is "essential" and have some great conversations with CPR Classical's music director, Jeff Zumfelde. It's music you love, it's music I love and it's music more people should love! It's not just the tried and true composers like Bach and Ravel (my favorite) on repeat (don't tempt me with all Ravel — I'll do it); it's Bach's and Ravel's inspirations, and the composers that followed in their footsteps and forged their own paths, too.

Zumfelde says sometimes essentials are core to the canon and sometimes they're just a personal favorite. “It's really fun for me as a person who helps decide what music we play on the radio to watch how these pieces can endear themselves to listeners so quickly. Especially when it’s a piece that has done the same thing to me.”

Zumfelde says, “It makes me feel like I really am a part of a community even though I've never met these people and they've never met me [and] we're having the shared experience.” We often hear on Facebook that essentials for many are attached to vivid memories.

“The radio is becoming more unique as we have this on-demand listening world that we live in,” says Zumfelde. “Having these shared experiences through the radio is still something special and I think that that's something, especially on a holiday weekend, we try to focus on: bringing our community of listeners together.”

And what would Zumfelde pick? It's an easy answer for him. Hilary Hahn playing Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto. Not only does it touch Zumfelde personally, it also represents a strong example of Stravinsky’s work and marks Hilary Hahn’s rise to fame. 

Join us for Essential Classics Weekend - according to you! Tune in Thursday afternoon for the start of the long weekend.

Listen to the essentials and beyond

There are a variety of ways to hear great performances by today’s top artists as well as legendary singers from the Metropolitan Opera’s history. Download the Colorado Public Radio app, tune in at radio signals around Colorado, or you can tell your smart speaker to “Play CPR Classical."