Anne-Sophie Mutter and group of proteges play Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall / AXS review

November 21 in Toronto was a hot night for music, but for those in attendance for Anne-Sophie Mutter & Mutter Virtuosi would no doubt say they had the cream of the croup. The world-renowned violinist brought her troop of former and current scholarships (as part of the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation) to Roy Thomson Hall for a concert, which included harpsichordist Knut Johanessen. Though there were but three pieces performed, they spanned centuries and styles for an impressive Canadian debut by the Mutter Virtuosi. Mutter started off with double bassist Roman Patkolo for "Ringtone Variations", a Sebastian Currier piece commissioned by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation. Hearing it played is what it must have been like to have been witness for Stravinsky's Paris debut of "Rite of Spring": it was a dissonant piece that demanded intense intellectual attention, with Mutter and Patkolo playing call-and-answer with the passages. Currier was inspired by the amelody of non-song ringtones, the ones that seem to beep and spurt a bunch of notes without any great or overarching narrative. READ THE FULL AXS REVIEW.
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Listen to Kat Edmonson perform on Mountain Stage / NPR Music: Mountain Stage

Kat Edmonson made her second appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, West Virginia. Originally from Houston, Edmonson eventually relocated to Austin, where her jazz-inspired singing soon made her a local favorite. Edmonson performed a fun set with songs from her new album, The Big Picture. Listen to Kat Edmonson's performance on Mountain Stage at NPR Music.
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Kat Edmonson on Mountain Stage

The Piano Guys - Wonders / Blogcritics review

The Piano Guys started out as YouTube sensations and have become immensely popular for their. mashup of popular and classical music. They should be called "The Piano and Cello Guys," really, since the actual musicians are Steven Sharp Nelson on electric cello and Jon Schmidt on piano. But I guess that had an unwieldy ring to it. The rest of the team consists of producer and videographer Paul Anderson and producer/songwriter Al Van Der Beek. Recently, The Piano Guys released a new CD and DVD package, Wonders, which includes popular single/video releases from the past year as well as new songs and new interpretations of old songs as in "Batman Evolution," which celebrates Batman themes through the years.  READ THE FULL Blogcritics REVIEW
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Joshua Bell - Bach / The Classical Reviewer review

An exclusive Sony Classical artist, Joshua Bell has made a number of critically acclaimed recordings and has been Grammy-nominated. His previous release, with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of the Beethoven 4th and 7th symphonies went straight to number 1 in the Billboard charts. Bell performs on the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius violin and uses a late 18th century French bow by François Tourte. Now Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields bring us, on a new release from Sony Classical, Bach's two solo violin concertos coupled with a number of Bach arrangements. There is a tremendously lively and incisive opening to the Allegro of the Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, BWV 1041 from Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Both Bell and his players bring some terrifically taut playing, wonderful ensemble and a real sense of joy in this real Allegro with some beautifully turned phrases. The Andante has a rich, gentle opening to which Bell brings a lovely tone as he weaves the melody around the orchestral accompaniment with the subtle harpsichord continuo. Bell's fine sonorities blend well over the lovely lower strings of the Academy. The concluding Allegro assai is full of bounce and verve with some terrific little decorations and the Academy is on fine form. These players seem to understand each other perfectly and play as of one mind. Bell's playing is truly phenomenal, so agile and beautifully phrased. READ THE FULL Classical Reviewer REVIEW.
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Rea Beaumont presents: Playing on the Edge from Canada's Glenn Gould studio

A musical adventure by Réa Beaumont takes you on a rare journey through Canada's history of the past 100 years. Playing on the Edge, from the Gelnn Gould Studio is presented by this award-winning pianist and new music specialist, offers the opportunity to experience a variety of exceptional compositions written by Canadians. Included are works by composers with centenary celebrations: John Weinzweig (1913-2006), Violet Archer (1913-2000), Barbara Pentland (1912-2000), and their contemporaries Jean Coulthard (1908-2000) and Colin McPhee (1900-1964). Also, virtuoso compositions by Walter Buczynski, Alice Ping Yee Ho and Chan Ka Nin will appeal to a multitude of musical tastes. Ms. Beaumont is set to release - A Conversation Piece – for late 2014. The album is an Impressionistic masterpiece and presents hidden gems from the contemporary repertoire. Beaumont's compelling interpretations take the listener on a journey through intense introspection and searing virtuosity.
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Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn meld marriage with musical collaboration / PBS: News Hour interview

Despite playing a common instrument, celebrated banjo players Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck have kept their musical careers separate. But after performing together as a favor to a relative, the two realized their different styles could be complementary, leading to a new collaboration and a family tour complete with their 21-month-old son. Watch their interview with Jeffrey Brown on PBS: News Hour.
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Sharon Isbin - 5 Classic Albums / New Classical Tracks

LISTEN TO Julie Amacher's INTERVIEW Here's the transcript - "I felt that what I have been able to bring to the instrument in terms of the unusual collaborations, the literature, that is something that I really wanted there to be a record of," says guitarist Sharon Isbin. "And I wanted it to be very visible so that it would inspire other musicians and other composers to take that ball and run with it and create their own projects after I'm gone. And of course I want the projects that I've done to have a long life that goes on to eternity." Grammy Award-winning Isbin is talking about her legacy, which has recently been chronicled in, Troubadour, a one-hour documentary. Five of Isbin's classic recordings have been packaged into a new CD set corresponding with the film, which explores what it takes to nurture a dream against all odds to become a world-class musician. In the guitar world, Sharon says she has always had to fight as a woman. And in the music world, she's always had to fight as a guitarist. "I think having two older brothers trained me for that because I learned early on that I had to stand up for what I believed in," she says. "Of course, when I started as a guitarist, I had no idea what the world was like. But I soon found out and I'm glad that I've been able to be a pioneer in a lot of ways. To create the first guitar department in the Juilliard School and to be able to be the first and still only guitarist to record with the New York Philharmonic, to break the gridlock at the Grammys and [to] be the first to win a classical Grammy as a guitarist in almost 30 years. So all of these things are really paving the way for others, and that's what it's all about." Two of Sharon's Grammy-winning recordings are part of her new box set, Dreams of a World, and her concerto CD featuring works written for her by Christopher Rouse and by Tan Dun. "Tan Dun likes to pay homage to the instrument that he's writing for," Sharon says, "in this case, the Spanish guitar and its flamenco history and to bring something from his own heritage, so it's also inspired by the ancient Chinese art of the pipa and Chinese folk music. So I have to, in some ways, become a pipa player and with that, to introduce gestures of flamenco. So at the very beginning you're hearing us stomping our feet and clapping and strumming and it's really quite wild. And then the whole journey begins into the land of Tan Dun and China." Sharon's curiosity about people, about the world and about music is what drives her passion to explore new collaborations like those you'll hear on her recording, Journey to the Amazon. "The late Thiago de Mello … sadly, he passed away last year. He was an Indian from the Amazon rainforests in Brazil. Very exotic. And a composer as well as an organic percussionist. So he made most of the instruments he played. Whether it was the turtle shell - following a dinner that their family would have had in Brazil of the turtle and the hollowed-out shell - depending on where you tap it produces all kinds of sounds. He would make the rainstick - a long bamboo tube filled with beads and seeds. Even the toenails of a tapir or the dried-out shells of a cocoon. And he uses it, believe it or not, all these instruments and many more on our Journey to the Amazon." Sharon recalls one recording session with Thiago that required some additional improvisation. "At security in the airport, they mistook the bow of one of his instruments and they thought it was weapon," she recalls. "So they so mishandled it going back and forth through the X-ray machine [and] they broke it. And it was a Sunday and my parents had to go searching for Chinese restaurants to try to find chopsticks to tape together so he could use that. It created a sound that has never been duplicated since … and you can hear it on Journey to the Amazon." Sharon's journey with the guitar started when her family moved to Italy for her father's job. She was just nine years old, and her dream was to be a rocket scientist. Sharon's passion for the guitar really ignited when she and her family moved back to Minnesota. "And that really happened thanks to the Minnesota Orchestra," she recalls. "I won a competition when I was 14 and the award was to perform with the orchestra. One of those pieces is on the box set - the Vivaldi Concerto in D - and it's featured very prominently on the documentary Sharon Isbin: Troubadour as well. And by having the experience, overnight I decided that playing in front of 10,000 people was even more fun than launching my worms and grasshoppers into space so I decided, that's it. Enough with the science stuff, I'm going to become a guitarist." Sharon Isbin, a pioneering classical guitarist - who is out of this world. Her 5 Classic Albums box set contains: Journey to the Amazon Dreams of a World Rouse/Dun Guitar Concertos Baroque Favourites for Guitar Rodrigo/Villa-Lobos/Ponce Concertos
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Springfield's Taj Mahal, Blind Boys of Alabama team up for Christmas album / MassLive review

The Blind Boys of Alabama and Springfield blues great Taj Mahal will be Talkin' Christmas! this holiday season. In a note on his website, Mahal said he enjoyed his first time collaboration with The Blind Boys of Alabama. "There are just some wonderful tunes that allow me to find a totally different way to play on this album," he said. "It's exciting to be a part of something that is such incredible music." Recently released on Sony Music Masterworks, Talkin' Christmas! includes new versions of Christmas standards, covers of hidden gospel gems, and seven brand-new holiday songs – six of which are the first Christmas songs ever penned by the Blind Boys. The album also features a hand-clapping rearrangement of the classic ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?' and an intimate, acoustic ‘Silent Night.'
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Lang Lang - The Mozart Album / KDFC Download of the Week

Each week KDFC: San Francisco members can download a free mp3 from some of the biggest releases in the world of Classical music. For superstar classical pianist Lang Lang's first all-Mozart album, he teams up with the perfect conductor, legendary Mozart authority, Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The Mozart Album presents two of Mozart's piano concerti as well as solo pieces, including one of his most popular pieces "Rondo Alla Turca," on two discs. The two piano concerti, Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491 and Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453, were recorded with Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic at the Vienna Musikverein.  Download a free mp3 of Lang Lang performing Mozart's March in C Major 
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Blind Boys Of Alabama - Talkin' Christmas! with Taj Mahal is 'Daily Local' Fav of Christmas

In 2003, the Blind Boys of Alabama began a yearly tradition of touring during the holiday season. The success of that tour inspired the band to record a new Christmas album, Talkin' Christmas! Joining them for this special project is their friend and frequent touring partner, Taj Mahal and the resulting collaboration brings a blues-meets-gospel sound unlike the usual season fare so often found at this time of year. With Taj on guitar, banjo, ukulele, harmonica, and lending his vocals on two key tracks, the album is a full-fledged holiday celebration evoking the true spirit of the season with pure joy, great voices and that all-are-welcome message that only the Blind Boys of Alabama can bring. The record includes both the familiar and fresh - with a rocking new take on the seasonal favorite, "Do You Hear What I Hear?" plus five new Blind Boys originals (including the compassionate "What Can I Do?," featuring Taj Mahal on vocals and is one of two songwriting collaborations with Stax Records soul legend William Bell) and choice covers of some of gospel music's greatest seasonal gems.
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Kavita Shah brings potent mix of cultures and styles / The Boston Globe interview

You might hear the arrangement of an Indian raga on singer Kavita Shah's sparkling debut, Visions, or the prominent tabla on her version of the Stevie Wonder title track, and jump to conclusions about an immigrants' daughter on a roots trip. That wouldn't be quite right. Shah's Indian parents had little music at home save for a few LPs; her first instrument was the classical piano, and she only dabbled in Indian music training while already a jazz student at the Manhattan School of Music. You might, instead, hear the opening track, the Cape Verdean "Sodade," marvel at Shah's flawless accent, and wonder if you'd stumbled on one of Cesaria Evora's nieces. Her fluent Portuguese on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste" only compounds the effect. Ms. Shah performs with her group at Boston's Reggatabar tonight at 8pm.  READ THE FULL Boston Globe INTERVIEW.
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Bela Fleck & Brooklyn Rider start with a bang in Indiana

Béla Fleck's concert with Brooklyn Rider started with a bang. No, that's not just a saying. The performance, which took place in a packed Loeb Playhouse, began with the four members of Brooklyn Rider literally banging on their instruments, the same way chimps might if they encountered a violin for the first time. Last Friday night, Brooklyn Rider seemed to encounter classical music for the first time. They did not play like chimps. Fleck plucked sounds from his 1937 Gibson Mastertone like he was the wry, child-like and very talented king of the jungle. He's so used to playing great music that he makes it look almost offensively easy. He'd lean back on his chair, an intricate melody flowing from his banjo, and look over at Colin Jacobsen furiously scratching away at his violin, then over at Eric Jacobsen tapping his cello and stomping the ground - as if to say, "what on Earth is this racket?"  READ THE FULL Lafayette Journal & Courier STORY
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Top 10 Albums for November

Blind Boys Of Alabama :

Talkin' Christmas! with Taj Mahal

This holiday season, music lovers will have a lot to celebrate because The Blind Boys of Alabama & Taj Mahal will be Talkin' Christmas! Available on October 21 via Sony Music Masterworks, Talkin' Christmas! is a summit meeting of two American music icons. It includes new versions of Christmas standards, covers of hidden gospel gems, and seven brand-new holiday songs - six of which are the first Christmas songs ever penned by the Blind Boys themselves. The new original songs include the title track ‘Talkin' Christmas!,' a funky tribute to the power of Christmas featuring Money Mark on keyboards, and the compassionate ‘What Can I Do?,' which features Taj Mahal on vocals and is one of two songwriting collaborations with Stax Records soul legend William Bell.  The album also features a hand-clapping rearrangement of the usually-slower classic ‘Do You Hear What I Hear?' and a refreshingly intimate, acoustic version of ‘Silent Night.' 27 Total SYND: IMUS Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City, Baltimore Online: JazzWeekly, Daily Local News, MassLive
Bill Frisell :

Guitar in the Space Age

"May you never hear surf music again." – Jimi Hendrix "Space is the place." – Sun Ra Just when you think you've got guitarist-composer Bill Frisell all figured out, confident in your expectations, this American original shakes things up with a heretofore unexpected glimpse into those layers of consciousness which inform his rootsy, inclusive, oh so personal style of musical outreach. Because while Bill Frisell is capable of routinely navigating the most harrowing ascents into the outer reaches of the improvisational Ionosphere without once ever flinching, there emerge at regular intervals suggestions of something more childlike and elemental; a sensibility which revels in expressions of earnest, unadorned directness-the aesthetic poetry of an impressionistic painter who is unafraid to distill things down to their most folkish, heartfelt essence.  27 NEW 'ON' -  93 Total SYND: PRI/Jazz After Hours Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, Denver, Houston, Detroit, Austin, Albuquerque, Berkeley CA, San Antonio, Madison WI, Honolulu, Canada Online: Taintradio, Jazz From Gallery 41, GreenArrow
DePue Brothers :

When It's Christmas Time

When the DePue Brothers were growing up in Bowling Green, Ohio, their house was always filled with music, especially during the holiday season.  Each year, their dad, Dr. Wallace DePue, Sr., who was music professor at Bowling Green University, would write a new Christmas carol as his holiday gift.  One, written in 1990, is called "When It's Christmas Time" and is the title of their new CD being released for the 2013 Christmas season.  The brothers -- Wallace Jr., Alex, Jason and Zach -- who are all classically trained violinists and have performed with the most prestigious musical organizations including The Philadelphia Orchestra, are proud to dedicate their CD to their dad.  Continuing their dad's tradition of sharing holiday music with family and friends, the DePue Brothers Band has put their own signature on their dad's carol with Alex's new arrangement and by enriching these holiday classic carols with adistinctive bluegrass, jazz, and classical groove. 9 New 'ON'  11 TOTAL Markets include: Long Island NY, Sacramento CA, Richmond VA, Sarasota FL, Durham & New London NH, Eugene OR, Point Reyes CA, Canada Online: GURU
The Hot Sardines :


The Hot Sardines unleash their distinctly passionate, dazzling and inventive sound with their self-titled debut album. The electrifying record, produced by Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Elvis Costello & The Roots), features both early jazz classics and original new Sardine compositions.  Their album launch marks a defining moment in the Sardines' evolution, which started as a slow burn fueled by a shared passion for music from another era, and escalated as the band's performances ignited the same passion in audiences all over the world. 18 New 'ON'  96 Total Markets include: New York, San Francisco, Cleveland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Houston, Portland, Denver, St. Louis, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Long Island NY, Albuquerque, Orlando, San Antonio, El Paso, Madison WI, Toronto Online: GeenArrow, Taintradio, Audiophile Audition, Live 365
Sharon Isbin :

5 Classic Albums

Sharon Isbin - Troubadour is a one-hour documentary portrait of the world's premier classical guitarist, shows us a trailblazing performer and teacher who over the course of her career has broken through numerous barriers to rise to the top of a traditionally male-dominated field. The film, produced by Susan Dangel, explores what it takes to nurture a dream against all odds to become a world class musician. It will be presented by American Public Television for broadcast on nearly 200 public television stations throughout the US this November-December 2014, and released on DVD/Blu-ray by Video Artists International. In coordination with the documentary broadcasts, Warner Classics will release five of Isbin's most popular albums in a single box. The set brings together cornerstones of the guitar concerto repertoire by Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos, arrangements of perennial Baroque favorites, concertos by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun that were written for Isbin herself (and featured in the documentary) and two imaginatively-programmed recital discs including the GrammyTM Award-winning Dreams of a World.  29 NEW -  73 Total SYND: Classical 24, CBC Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Portland, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, Pittsburgh, Austin, New Orleans, Memphis, Louisville, Honolulu, Canada Online: Huffington Post, Taintradio, MusicGuy
Kat Edmonson :

The Big Picture

Kat Edmonson announces October tour dates in support of her third album, The Big Picture out September 30 via Sony Music Masterworks. A full tour will follow in early 2015. Edmonson's premiere track "Rainy Day Woman" is available via iTunes HERE and for streaming on SoundCloud HERE.  Check out her new video album trailer HERE. The album is her label debut and was recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney) in his Los Angeles studio. Of the album, Edmonson states, "There's no particular theme, but there are some commonalities, one of which is my ever-underlying influence from motion pictures and film scores. I have always felt that music and film go hand in hand, because that was how I was first exposed to music-from old movies and musicals-and to me there wasn't a separation between an actor acting, dancing and singing." See full tour dates below. 
Sergio Mendes :


"The sound of Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes has been a summer soundtrack for generations of listeners." - NPR In a career that spans more than half a century, Sérgio Mendes is an old hand at creating a unique sonic blend that electrifies a mass global audience. His knack for delivering hit after hit has made him the most successful Brazilian musician of his time. A grand conceptualizer, his well-polished talents as a pianist, composer, bandleader, vocalist and producer make him a truly singular artist. With Magic, his debut recording for the storied OKeh label, he triumphs once again, delivering a timely update on the infectious mix of Brazilian rhythms and contemporary styles from his homeland, the U.S. and elsewhere that make the Mendessound instantly recognizable. 36 NEW  -  101 Total SYND: Tavis Smiley Direct: MOOD, Spafax Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Long Island NY, New Orleans, Albuquerque,  INTER: Canada, Australia, Spain Online: Sun Music, Taintradio, GreenArrow, Audiophile Audition, Something Else,, Naples Daily News, Union Tribune
The Boys Of St. Paul's Choir School :

Christmas In Harvard Square

The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School have an exciting season planned this fall and into the holidays with the release of their first international recording for Decca/AimHigher Recordings/UMC.  Christmas in Harvard Square was just released on October 7, and now Boston television station WGBH is confirmed to be the PBS presenting station of their one hour television special, "Christmas in Harvard Square," premiering on November 28 immediately following Thanksgiving at the official kick-off of the Christmas season.   The show will subsequently air throughout the holiday season on WGBH and additional stations to be announced, with additional interviews to be filmed at the WGBH studios with the boys and the choir's Musical Director, Mr. John Robinson.  25 NEW -  35 Total SYND: Classical 24, CBC Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Atlanta, St. Louis, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Austin, Louisville, Canada Online: ClassicallyHip
Ludovico Einaudi :


"The seemingly simple but strangely affecting music of Ludovico Einaudi defies pigeonholing…expect to feel transported and mesmerized by (his) artfully wrought compositions." - Daily Telegraph Stanze (rooms) is a cycle of 16 pieces, and each is a musical space separated from the others like the rooms of a house. It's the diary of a journey, with the aim to achieve the maximum expression using the least possible. This is how award-winning composer Ludovico Einaudi describes Stanze, his first cycle of ballads for solo instrument originally composed for piano over the course of three years. After having listened to the performance of some songs performed on electric harp by Cecilia Chailly (the sister of conductor Riccardo Chailly), Einaudi decided to entrust the playing of the whole project to her, privileging her instrument for the entire album. 7 NEW -  42 Total SYND: NPR/Hearts Of Space, Galaxie Direct: Music Choice Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore, Portland, Berkeley CA, Canada Online: Taintradio, Live 365
Daniel Hope :

Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album

"Daniel Hope is a force to be reckoned with." Gramophone Deutsche Grammophon releases Classical BRIT-Award-winner Daniel Hope's new recording, Escape to Paradise: The Hollywood Album, in the US (The album is released in Europe a day earlier.) The British violinist has a "thriving solo career" per the New York Times, which "has been built on inventive programming and a probing interpretive style." The new release draws on Hope's extensive research into European composers - among them Eric Wolfgang Korngold, Miklós Rózsa, Hanns Eisler, and Franz Waxman to name a few - who fled fascist persecution to relocate to Los Angeles where they penned some of the 20th century's most iconic film scores. Recorded with Alexander Shelley leading the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and guest artists including vocalists Sting and Max Raabe, Hope's unprecedented new collection juxtaposes examples of the émigré composers' film and concert music with selections by those they influenced – like leading contemporary movie composers John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and Thomas Newman – in a nostalgic search for the quintessentially lavish "Hollywood sound. 40 NEW   48 Total SYND: PRI/Classical 24, CBC Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Portland, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Austin, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore, Louisville, Buffalo, Canada Online: Taintradio, ClassicallyHip