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Wisconsin Public Radio music hosts share songs of summer

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Now that summer is finally here, the Wisconsin Public Radio music hosts share songs of summer from A 13th Century Round To A Classic Of The American Songbook, Music That Evokes The Season. The staff has put together a collection of music that evokes the warm summer months. The range is wide, covering over 800 years, including some well-known favorites plus some pieces that might be new discoveries for you. There are also two versions of a popular American song, and something just right for Independence Day.

Norman Gilliland, 'Midday' Host selects the oldest surviving round in English (Middle English) is "Summer is Icumen In," which was composed in the Wessex dialect around the year 1260. Among the performers in this recording of "Summer Is Icumen In" is the Hilliard Ensemble:

Summer in Wisconsin brings hot, sultry weather that eventually yields to powerful thunderstorms scudding in over the Mississippi. Sometimes the heat wave is broken by ominous cumulonimbus towers that coalesce right on the spot, releasing a few loud, heavy drops before the full-blown downpour lets loose. Many composers over the centuries have emulated thunderstorms in music; perhaps the most famous examples are found in Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" – there's one each in "Spring" and "Summer."

For Stephanie Elkins, 'Morning Classics' Host, one of the most artful, vivid and meaningful examples of a musical thunderstorm is "Cloudburst" by American composer Eric Whitacre. The piece was inspired both by an actual storm and by the poetry of Mexican poet Octavio Paz: " We must dream the dreams of a river seeking its course." 'Cloudburst' is for eight-part mixed chorus plus thunder sheets, handbells, bass drum, wind chimes, piano and more. The chorus uses body percussion to imitate those first splatting raindrops and the effect is surprisingly realistic and powerful. The musical storm intensifies and then ebbs, slowly receding. The listener is cleansed, cooled and utterly refreshed in more than one way.

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