Tom Huizenga

Tom Huizenga is a music producer, reporter and blogger for NPR Music. He hosts NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence.

A regular contributor of stories about classical music on NPR's news programs, Huizenga regularly introduces intriguing new classical CDs to listeners on the weekend version of All Things Considered. He contributes to NPR Music's “Song of the Day.”

During his time at NPR, Huizenga spent seven years as a producer, writer and editor for NPR's Peabody Award-winning daily classical music magazine Performance Today, and for the programs SymphonyCast and World of Opera. He produced the live broadcast of Gershwin's Porgy & Bess from Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, concerts from NPR's Studio 4A and performances on the road at Summerfest La Jolla, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and New York's Le Poisson Rouge.

Huizenga's radio career began at the University of Michigan, where he graduated in 1986. During his four year tenure, he regularly hosted several radio programs (opera, jazz, free-form, experimental radio) at Ann Arbor's WCBN. As a student in the Enthnomusicology department, Huizenga studied and performed traditional court music from Indonesia. He also studied English Literature and voice, while writing for the university's newspaper.

After college Huizenga took his love of music and broadcasting to New Mexico, where he served as music director for NPR member station KRWG, in Las Cruces, and taught radio production at New Mexico State University.

Huizenga lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife Valeska Hilbig, a public affairs director at the Smithsonian. In his spare time he writes about music for the Washington Post, overloads on concerts and movies and swings a tennis racket wildly on many local courts.

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5:00am

Sun June 30, 2013
Deceptive Cadence

Revved-up Vivaldi, Persian Bamboo And Soaring Spirituals: New Classical Albums

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 7:41 am

album cover for Corps Exquis

It's a brave new musical world. Between downloads, iPods, music sharing websites and the good old CD, we have more easy access to the songs and symphonies we love than ever before.

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8:37pm

Sat April 6, 2013
Deceptive Cadence

Vespers, Habaneras And Early Morning Walks: New Classical Albums

Originally published on Sun April 7, 2013 6:52 pm

The Attacca String Quartet's latest album celebrates John Adams.
Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken" begins with the line: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood." Frost's traveler must choose between them. But slide that metaphor over to the world of classical music and you will discover hundreds of paths to explore.

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3:54pm

Thu February 14, 2013
Deceptive Cadence

Measures Of Affection: Five Musical Love Letters

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 12:21 pm

Composer Peter Lieberson wrote his Neruda Songs for his wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.
Johansen Krause Peter Lieberson

3:03pm

Mon December 24, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Whatever Happened To The Classical Christmas Album?

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 2:38 pm

A sampling of one listener's cherished classical Christmas albums from a few years back.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

3:04pm

Sun December 9, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

A Bald Mezzo And Three Shades Of Violin: Classical Favorites From 2012

Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 7:09 pm

On Silfra, violinist Hilary Hahn improvises with prepared pianist Hauschka.
DG

From mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli's ambitious revival of the early Baroque composer Agostino Stefani (and yes, she's got another outrageous album cover) to three very different roles for the violin, here's a clutch of classical albums I returned to again and again this year for sheer delight and aural inspiration. Bartoli lavishes extravagant attention on the music of a fascinating but forgotten link in the history of opera.

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3:50pm

Tue November 6, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Elliott Carter, Giant Of American Music, Dies At 103

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 8:08 pm

3:30pm

Sun August 5, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Headbanging Bruckner And Debussy In Black And White: New Classical Albums

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 5:14 pm

The young pianist Inon Barnatan plays Debussy and Ravel with striking assurance.
Avie Records

Some people are intimidated by the vastness of classical music. And while the prospect of more than 1,000 years of hits to consider may be daunting, just think instead of how many musical journeys of discovery can be made.

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9:52am

Thu July 26, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

A Know-It-All's Guide To Olympic Music

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 6:24 pm

Among all things official at the Olympics, like the flag, is music composed for the opening and closing ceremonies.
Tony Duffy Getty Images

3:41pm

Sat May 5, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Fireworks From Cuba, And Schubert That Grooves: New Classical Albums

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 7:37 pm

The new album by The Knights, A Second of Silence, celebrates Schubert and more modern but like-minded composers.
Ancalagon Records

Although it always seems fashionable to forecast the downfall of classical music, enterprising musicians both young and not so young continue to make deeply satisfying recordings. For this visit to weekends on All Things Considered, I was delighted to uncover the little known (at least in this country) Jorge Luis Prats, a terrifically talented Cuban pianist whose once uncertain career appears to be resurging — at 55, he has signed a handsome record deal. Then there's The Knights, a young chamber orchestra with a postmodern take on Schubert.

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12:51pm

Sun February 12, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

From Hyperpianos To Harmonious Handel: New Classical Albums

Lisa Smirnova studied Handel's suites for five years before recording them.
ECM

What's the saying — the more things change, the more they stay the same? It seems that's how it goes in the ways we make music. MIT futurologist Tod Machover rethinks traditional instruments, coming up with new things like the hyperpiano; Pianist Michael Chertock gives it a go in an explosive excerpt below.

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1:40pm

Sun December 11, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Clouds, Concertos And A Trip To Fiji: New Classical Albums

Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 3:07 pm

Cloud and Light, by Tshio Hosokawa, was written for the ancient Japanes instrument called the sho.
ECM

With all the chatter about the death of the compact disc, anxiety in the recording industry and the domination of downloads, the flood of CDs overflowing my mailbox never seems to recede. Need a new Bruckner 4th, an Adès anthology or piano music by Pärt? How about Azerbaijani concertos, Schubert sonatas or a new Midsummer Night's Dream?

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6:43pm

Wed October 19, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Joseph Calleja: The Young Tenor With The Old-School Sound

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 11:48 am

Joseph Calleja's voice reminds many of the golden-age tenors of the past.

Johannes Ifkovitz Decca

Opera fanatics often trot out the tired old complaint about how "they don't make 'em like they used to" while pining for the great singers of the past. But as an unabashed opera nerd, I can tell you that the sound of the "golden age" is alive in the voice of tenor Joseph Calleja. He's a young singer with an old-school sensibility, and he's just released his third album for Decca Records.

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3:17pm

Sat July 23, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Poulenc, Palestrina And Two-By-Fours: New Classical Albums

This beautiful wooden box houses the new Michael Gordon piece, Timber, scored for six percussionists and six two-by-fours.
Cantaloupe Records

The news may bring us stories of bankrupt symphony orchestras, floundering opera companies and shuttered record stores, but musicians keep making excellent recordings, often releasing them on small labels. That's the thread running through the broad range of classical albums that NPR Music's Tom Huizenga spins for Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz. The independent, Paris-based Zig Zag Territories label has released a sparkling new recording of Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos with the innovative original instruments band Anima Eterna.

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12:01am

Thu July 7, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Making A Case For Menotti

Is composer Gian Carlo Menotti (born 100 years ago Thursday) ready to be ranked with the greatest 20th-century composers?
Getty Images

One hundred years ago, in a country town on Italy's Lake Lugano, Gian Carlo Menotti was born. It didn't take long before little Gian Carlo took pen to music paper. By the time he entered the Milan Conservatory at age 13, he'd already composed two operas.

On the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth, Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman makes a case for Menotti as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century.

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1:50pm

Mon June 20, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

What Are Your Sounds Of Summer?

What's on your summer playlist?
iStock

It wasn't summer yet, but it sure felt like it. Earlier this month, here in Washington, D.C., the temperatures were scorching, nearly breaking the 102-degree record set in 1874 when Ulysses S. Grant was president. Summer officially arrives here tomorrow — at 1:16 p.m. EDT to be exact.

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11:23am

Wed June 15, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

NPR Classical's Best Albums Of The Year (So Far)

One of our favorite albums so far this year is by violinist and composer Todd Reynolds.
Mark Kingsley Innova records

In our relentless quest to tabulate, rank and arrange everything in tidy little lists, we compulsive staffers at NPR Music have devised both a multi-genre collection of our favorite 25 records of the year (so far) and a giant ballot where you can cast votes for your own.

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9:38am

Wed June 15, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Charlie Siem: Tiny Desk Concert

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Charlie Siem is, literally, the very model of a modern major violin star. At just 25, he's already appeared on the world's great concert stages, as well as the pages of Italian Men's Vogue magazine. He's also the 2011 spokesman for Dunhill, the men's fashion house. For his Tiny Desk Concert appearance, you could say Siem dressed "casual, but with an understated elegance," right down to his left-hand pinky, with its pink-painted fingernail.

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2:22pm

Mon June 13, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Stravinsky's 'Petrushka' At 100: A Composer Finds His Voice

Vaslav Nijinsky danced the title role in Stravinsky's ballet Petrushka, which premiered 100 years ago today.
Wikimedia Commons

Igor Stravinsky was all of 28 years old in 1910 when he landed his first big hit, the ballet score to The Firebird, composed for the Ballets Russes, the influential dance company based in Paris.

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6:05pm

Wed June 8, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Classical And Indie Rock Collide On The Big Screen in 'Downtown Express'

Violinist Philippe Quint, singer/songewriter Nellie McKay, and street musicians in the film 'Downtown Express.'
Danny Bright courtesy of the artists

The story of the new film Downtown Express, which had its Manhattan premiere last night, is easily summarized: Sasha, a young Russian violinist, comes to New York with his culturally disoriented cellist father and a quirky violinist cousin.

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4:09pm

Tue June 7, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

George Szell: One Conductor's Long-Haul Commitment

George Szell, conducting the Cleveland Orchestra in Tokyo in 1970.
Peter Hastings Courtesy of The Cleveland Orchestra Archives

Today marks the birth date of Hungarian-born conductor and pianist George Szell. It's not a round-numbered anniversary (the 114th), but there is a birthday present of sorts — a brand new biography. Michael Charry's George Szell: A life of Music was published by University of Illinois Press last week.

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11:06am

Mon June 6, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Classical Lost And Found: The Sweet Serenades Of Robert Fuchs

Today, the Austrian romantic Robert Fuchs is all but forgotten. But in his time, he was a significant composer and the teacher of Mahler and Sibelius.
Naxos Records

In his day, Austrian-born Robert Fuchs was known more as a distinguished pedagogue than as a composer. He counted Gustav Mahler, Jean Sibelius, Franz Schmidt, Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold among his students.

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8:00pm

Fri June 3, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Around The Classical Internet: June 3, 2011

All the classical news that's fit to link.
Guillermo Perales iStock
  • Metropolitan Opera chief Peter Gelb on Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja pulling out of the summer tour to Japan: "Anything can happen in the volcanic world of opera, and with this tour it seems that our volcano has momentarily erupted."
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5:42pm

Thu June 2, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

The Official James Levine Puzzler

Jack Mitchell Metropolitan Opera Archives

Poor James Levine. One minute he's praised, the next he's condemned. Last night many PBS stations aired the documentary James Levine: America's Maestro. That's got to feel good. So too would the publication last month of the coffee table book James Levine: 40 Years at the Metropolitan Opera, not to mention the lavish new 21-DVD and 32-CD boxed sets of his Met years.

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1:20pm

Tue May 31, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Maryland Doctor Wins Van Cliburn Amateur Piano Competition

Van Cliburn presents Christopher Shih with the First Place prize for winning the Sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs in Fort Worth, Texas.
Rodger Mallison Cliburn Foundation

Christopher Shih, a 38-year-old gastroenterologist from Ellicott City, Md. says the only time he finds to practice the piano is at night, after he puts the kids to bed. But all that late-night practicing has paid off. Shih has won the sixth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs.

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4:46pm

Thu May 26, 2011
A Blog Supreme

Where Jazz Meets Classical, In A 'Caribbean Rhapsody'

Emarcy Records

Any new recording from the spectacular saxophonist James Carter is pretty much guaranteed to produce fireworks. But his new album, Caribbean Rhapsody, is his grandest work yet: It's a collaboration with the Puerto Rican classical composer Roberto Sierra. About 10 years ago, Sierra started writing Carter a concerto for saxophones and orchestra; more recently, he's topped it off with the title track, a piece for saxophones, jazz violin and string quartet.

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10:13am

Tue May 24, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Connecting Kids With Classical Music: Here's What You Told Us

iStock

All last week on this blog we asked the question: How do we best hook kids up with classical music? We asked you, along with a few prominent musicians, and we got a broad variety of responses — from "give the kid a trumpet," to "let them watch Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts."

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8:00pm

Sat May 21, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Tenors, Indie Sounds And Scarlatti: New Classical CDs

NOW Ensemble's new album Awake features five so-called indie classical composers.
New Amsterdam

Dire predictions about classical music keep coming, and yet so do excellent recordings from all corners of the classical realm — a fact happily reflected in an eclectic mix of sounds that NPR Music's Tom Huizenga spins for Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz. Judd Greenstein's music cheerfully percolates with well-blended flavors from many genres. He's among the so-called indie classical composers who also heads up his own ensemble and record label.

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10:22am

Thu May 5, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

Spring For Music: Orchestras Bring Innovative Concerts To Carnegie Hall

There's that age-old question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The answer — at least for the upcoming Spring for Music festival — lies in creative programming for symphony orchestra.

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4:51pm

Wed April 27, 2011
Deceptive Cadence

'Saamagam,' A New Cross-Cultural Concerto By Amjad Ali Khan

(Classical Detours meanders through stylistic byways, exploring new recordings from the fringes of classical music.)

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12:12pm

Wed April 27, 2011
Tiny Desk Concerts

Wu Man: Tiny Desk Concert

Originally published on Mon June 24, 2013 10:42 am

Adele Hampton NPR

Nobody wields a pipa like Wu Man, the reigning virtuoso on the ancient four-stringed instrument.

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