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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First Listen
11:04 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

First Listen: Valentina Lisitsa, 'Chasing Pianos'

Valentina Lisitsa's new Chasing Pianos features Michael Nyman's music for the Oscar-winning film The Piano.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:06 am

Music is an aural medium, but the two musicians represented on this album have careers defined, at least in part, by visuals. Valentina Lisitsa, the 44-year-old Ukrainian-born pianist, revived her stalled career by uploading videos of herself playing Chopin to YouTube. After millions clicked, she landed a record deal.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:44 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Joseph Calleja: Tiny Desk Concert

Joseph Calleja performed a Tiny Desk Concert November 26.
Abbey Oldham Abbey Oldham/NPR

Malta, the island nation 50 miles south of Sicily, may be small, but it's home to one of the biggest stars in opera, tenor Joseph Calleja. And like his country's name, which may originate in the Greek word for honey, Calleja's voice is a potent mix of Italianate passion and sweetness. Just listen to how he pulls the volume back to a slender golden ray of tone several times in Tosti's gorgeous "Ideale," and especially the word "disciogliea" in the Puccini aria that closes this performance.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:44 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Wig Out With The Big Bach Puzzler

Match your wits against the granddaddy of composers in this big Bach puzzler.
Wikimedia Commons

Johann Sebastian Bach, with his big white wig, might stand as the "supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music," as musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky says. But the composer, organist, choirmaster and teacher could also be surprisingly witty and irreverent.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:54 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Pitch Perfect: 3 Must-Hear Vocal Albums

A late 15th-century icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh with the Saints of Rostov adorns the cover of a new album of Russian Orthodox Church music by the vocal ensemble Conspirare.
Harmonia Mundi

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 12:47 pm

The human voice, the true original instrument, is still the most expressive and personal of all. It's one reason more than 42.5 million Americans sing in choirs, and why we seem to be hardwired to tell our stories through song. It also probably explains why I'm a vocal music junkie, eagerly pawing over the operas, recitals and choir albums that land on my desk and in my download folder.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:03 am
Fri March 14, 2014

How Irish Are You? A St. Paddy's Day Puzzler

Hoist a pint for this St. Patrick's day. But first take this quiz!
iStock.com

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 1:33 pm

With St. Patrick's Day upon us, it's hard to escape the allure of the Emerald Isle, with its rolling heaths, swirling jigs, frothy beer and curious legends. While we can't afford to fly you to Dublin we can offer this humble St. Paddy's Day puzzler. Score high and be rewarded with the pot 'o gold at the end of the rainbow. Mess up and yours is a sad bowl of soggy Lucky Charms.

Deceptive Cadence
12:38 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Robert Ashley, Opera's Misunderstood Innovator, Dies At 83

Robert Ashley's operas for television redefined the genre.
Joanne Savio Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 7:50 pm

Robert Ashley, a restlessly innovative American composer, died at his home in New York March 3 from complications of cirrhosis of the liver. NPR confirmed the composer's death through his wife and manager Mimi Johnson. Ashley was 83.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

First Listen: Augustin Hadelich, 'Sibelius, Adès: Violin Concertos'

Violinist Augustin Hadelich pairs a classic concerto with a contemporary one on this new album.
Rosalie O'Connor

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:54 am

Looking for a new violinist to fall in love with? Meet Augustin Hadelich, the 29-year-old Italian-born son of German parents. On his new album, to be released March 11, he pairs two searching, seemingly disparate violin concertos — one classic and one contemporary.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:36 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Classical Couples: Sweethearts Sharing The Stage

Soprano Ailyn Perez and tenor Stephen Costello met in music school. Now married, the couple sings together around the world — as in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet at Opera Philadelphia in 2001.
Kelly & Massa Photography Opera Philadelphia

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Deceptive Cadence
11:55 am
Mon January 27, 2014

New Music Shines at Classical Grammy Awards

Composer and bandleader Maria Schneider accepts her Grammy Award. Her album Winter Morning Walks earned three awards yesterday at the pre-telecast Grammy ceremony in Los Angeles.
Michael Buckner Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 3:52 pm

"New classical music is well and alive," Brad Wells, director of the vocal collective Roomful of Teeth, said yesterday as he accepted his Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:44 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Inspiration Or Embarrassment? Lang Lang And Metallica Teaming Up At Grammys

Guitarist Kirk Hammett (left) and his band Metallica will join classical pianist lang Lang on stage at the Grammy wards telecast Sunday night.
Getty Images/Courtesy of the artist

Odd musical mergers in the Grammy Awards telecast are nothing new — remember Paul McCartney, Linkin Park and Jay-Z singing "Yesterday?" Still, when thrash metal band Metallica and classical pianist Lang Lang take the stage together Sunday night, it may seem more like a head-scratcher than a clever match.

Or will it?

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Deceptive Cadence
3:15 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Note To 'Downton Abbey' Viewers: Nellie Melba Was A Big Deal

Opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, circa 1900.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

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Deceptive Cadence
8:02 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Marilyn Horne: Opera's Agile Advocate Turns 80

American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, circa 1965.
Erich Auerbach Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 5:44 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
12:02 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Cachet And Cash For Rafał Blechacz, Named 2014 Gilmore Artist

Rafał Blechacz has been named the 2014 Gilmore Artist. In 2005, he swept the five top prizes at the International Chopin Competition.
Felix Broede DG

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 11:19 am

Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz, who at age 20 swept all five top prizes at the 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, can now add another prestigious award to his collection. Early Wednesday, Blechacz was named the 2014 Gilmore Artist.

The Gilmore may not have quite the name recognition as the Chopin Competition, but it has a distinguished cachet of its own, plus a generous $300,000 cash award.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
8:03 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo: Tiny Desk Concert

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo performs a Tiny Desk Concert in October 2013.
Meredith Rizzo Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Van-Anh Vanessa Vo is a veteran when it comes to taking risks, and it pays off in her compelling music. As a young girl in Vietnam, she knew she wanted to be a traditional musician, even though it was a world dominated by men. It was risky, then, when she pestered a master teacher for three years to give her lessons. He finally gave in, taking her on as an apprentice.

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Deceptive Cadence
4:39 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

High Notes And Clams: The Best And Worst Of Classical 2013

Sarah Joy Miller as Anna Nicole Smith in Anna Nicole by Mark-Anthony Turnage, the final production from the New York City Opera, which closed its doors for good this fall.
Stephanie Berger

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That could be the annual mantra for the classical music world. It has been predicted to crumble for decades, just as optimists continue to point to positive trends. This year is no different. Despite two ugly black eyes — the death of the New York City Opera and the continuing, bitter stalemate between the Minnesota Orchestra's (locked out) musicians and management — terrific music is being made by marvelous artists. Here we offer a short list of the best and worst of 2013.

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Tiny Desk Concerts
2:03 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Kronos Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

Kronos
NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 2:26 pm

Sunny Yang joined Kronos Quartet in June 2013. Now, just five months later, the cellist she says she's learned quite a few new works — not just a handful, but about 70 pieces.

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Classics in Concert
10:34 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Carnegie Hall Live With The San Francisco Symphony

The elegant conductor Michael Tilson Thomas leading the San Francisco Symphony in a live performance from Carnegie Hall on November 13, 2013.
Eric Thayer for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:33 am

Last March, when the San Francisco Symphony was slated for an East Coast tour, including a stop at Carnegie Hall, the musicians went on strike. Fortunately, the labor dispute was settled in 18 days — a blink of an eye compared to the recent drawn-out disruptions in Minnesota and Detroit. Still, it left New Yorkers hungry for the San Francisco Symphony's brand of tonal luminescence and programming bravado, nurtured by forward-thinking conductor Michael Tilson Thomas.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:28 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Bach Unwigged: The Man Behind The Music

This rare portrait of Bach, by Elias Gottlob Haussmann, hung in John Eliot Gardiner's home during World War II.
courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, N.J.

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 9:51 pm

Johann Sebastian Bach has been a central figure in the life of British conductor John Eliot Gardiner since he was a youngster. On his way to bed, he couldn't help glancing up at the famous 18th-century portrait of Bach that hung in the first floor landing of the old mill house in Dorset, England where Gardiner was born.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:12 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

A Debt Ceiling Playlist: 5 Songs To Push Your Mind To The Brink

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (left), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (center), and Speaker of the House John Boehner are three key lawmakers in the government shut down and debt ceiling crisis.
Drew Angerer Getty Images

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Deceptive Cadence
2:54 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Verdi's Operas: A Vigorous Soundtrack To Human Nature

Giuseppe Verdi's operas have an uncanny ability to probe into our contemporary psyche.
Leemage Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 4:09 pm

Two hundred years ago today, in a small northern Italian village, a couple named Verdi — tavern owners by trade — welcomed the birth of a baby boy who would later change the face of opera forever. And, whether we recognize it or not, on the bicentennial of his birth, Giuseppe Verdi is still vital.

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