Special Guests
Saturday, April 23, 2005

Renée Fleming

She was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania and grew up in Rochester, New York; her parents were voice teachers. While studying at the State University of New York she sang with a jazz trio and was discovered by jazz legend Illinois Jacquet, who invited her to tour with his band. Renée went to graduate school instead, where she focused on classical music at the Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School. Renée Fleming's professional break came in 1988 when she was invited to sing the role of the Contessa in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with the Houston Grand Opera, and in 1989 she made her New York City debut in La Bohème. She sang in London's Covent Garden and returned to New York in 1991 to make her Metropolitan Opera debut. Since then, the two-time Grammy award winner, who is recognized as a risk-taker in her field, has created many roles for the operatic stage and has premiered numerous songs written for her. She has performed throughout the world's most distinguished venues with today's foremost orchestras and conductors, and recorded numerous award winning discs. An exclusive recording artist with Decca since 1995, her recent recordings include Renée Fleming: Handel, the Grammy Award winning Bel Canto, and she is featured on the Warner Bros. Records Oscar-winning soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. On May 10, Decca releases her newest CD, Haunted Heart; a personal journey through popular songs she loves, with jazz pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Bill Frisell. In November 2004, Ms. Fleming's first book, The Inner Voice, was published in the United States by Viking Penguin; an intimate account of her career and the creative process, Ms. Fleming shares personal experiences learned throughout the course of her career.

Phil Cunningham, MBE: accordian; Aly Bain, MBE: fiddle

The MBE's in this case stand for Member of the Order of the British Empire and carry with them doctorate degrees. Dr. Cunningham won his in 2002 for services to Scottish music, not only as an astonishing accordionist but as a teacher, producer, music director and composer. His considerable body of work includes two suites for symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments, the most recent perfomed by the Scottish National Orchestra. Dr. Bain holds four doctorates, none of which have kept him from being regarded as Scotland's supreme traditional fiddler. He was a founding member of the Boys of the Lough and is today in demand as a producer and a collaborator; he has his own label, Whirlie Records. Together they have recorded CDs and movie soundtracks, toured a considerable part of the world, played everywhere from small pubs to concert halls and coliseums, and from all accounts have had a good time doing it.

Andy Stein

Violinist and saxophonist Andy Stein was a member of The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band on A Prairie Home Companion from 1989 to 2001. Stein collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, and has performed with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and many others.

Guy's All-Star Shoe Band

The Shoes are led by PHC music director RICHARD DWORSKY, a regular since 1986. He has been a studio musician for 30 years and has worked with the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis, singer Al Jarreau, Kristin Chenoweth, the Hopeful Gospel Quartet, and has recorded on the Windham Hill label. His latest CD is So Near and Dear to Me (Prairie Home Productions, LLP). PAT DONOHUE (guitar) is a St. Paul guy, a National Finger Picking Guitar Champion and songwriter whose latest CD is Radio Blues (Prairie Home Productions, LLP). GARY RAYNOR (bass) has performed with Sammy Davis Jr., the Count Basie band, and the Minnesota Klezmer Band and teaches jazz bass at the McNally Smith College of Music. ARNIE KINSELLA (percussion), a PHC regular for 14 seasons, has performed with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, The Manhattan Rhythm Kings, and Leon Redbone.


Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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