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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Deceptive Cadence
3:30 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

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

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

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

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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Deceptive Cadence
12:31 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Canadian Olympians: Win Or Lose, They Play A Good Tune

Canadian rower — and classically trained pianist — Michael Braithwaite hopes for gold Wednesday.
Courtesy of Michael Braithwaite

Originally published on Sat August 4, 2012 1:04 am

Canadian rower Michael Braithwaite is pumped and probably a little nervous. It's the day before the double sculls (two person team) competition at the London Olympics and the British Columbia native is hoping his strong arms and shoulders will bring him gold.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:11 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

The 2012 Classical Olympians Puzzler

Some characters in classical music have Olympian athletic abilities.
Julia Vynokurova Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 2:52 pm

The grumbling of Londoners and the off-putting remarks of Mitt Romney are all but forgotten now as the 2012 Summer Olympics are in spectacular full swing. From here on out the race for the gold continues.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:44 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

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

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

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

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Deceptive Cadence
10:36 am
Wed July 18, 2012

The Operatic Occupations Puzzler

Jose Carbo (left) is the wily title character in a Sydney Opera House production of Rossini's Il barbieri di Siviglia.
Patrick Riviere Getty Images

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Who needs them, who's going to get them and who might lose them? It's a hot topic on the campaign trail. With the addition of only about 80,000 jobs last month, the June unemployment rate remained at a stubborn 8.2 percent.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:01 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Young Conductor Steers A Vivid, Drug-Addled Dream

Robin Ticciati conducts beyond his years in a debut recording with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Marco Borggreve

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 10:20 am

Robin Ticciati is the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Bamberg Symphony in Germany. He's conducted at the Metropolitan Opera and just finished a run of Britten's Peter Grimes at La Scala. Ticciati has also been tapped to take over England's storied Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2014. And did I mention he's under 30?

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Deceptive Cadence
1:23 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Get Out And Hear Music: Classical Summer Festivals 2012

Music and food mix well on the lawn of the Ravinia Festival outside Chicago. This year's edition runs through Sept. 9.
Ravinia Festival

Originally published on Thu July 12, 2012 6:17 pm

With the July Fourth holiday behind us, now is the time to map out a musical adventure. Below is a sampling of just a few of the dozens of summer classical music festivals around the country, grouped by region. From outdoor extravaganzas and picturesque locales to intimate indoor settings, live music thrives in the summertime. Been to a good summer fest not listed here? Tell us all about it.

EAST

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Deceptive Cadence
4:17 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Copland's 'Lincoln Portrait': Honest Abe's Oratory, Tailored For Orchestra

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 12:39 pm

Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland was an American original in more ways than one. It's not just his music, with its openness and simple elegance. It's that he expected ballet dancers to act like cowboys, pianists to play blues and orchestra players to accompany political speechmaking. His Lincoln Portrait, composed during World War II, matches words from our 16th president with symphonic music.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:58 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Jonathan Biss Embraces Beethoven

Mito-Habe Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Every musician practices differently. Some turn their own living rooms into rehearsal spaces. Others, like pianist Jonathan Biss, prefer to step out of the comforts of home and into a studio. "It's a more productive way of working," Biss told us as we barged in with cameras and microphones.

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Deceptive Cadence
9:56 am
Wed June 27, 2012

New York Polyphony's Living Room Madrigal

Mito-Habe Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:41 pm

For New York Polyphony, it's location, location, location. The four-man vocal ensemble thrives on music from the Renaissance, much of it designed for cavernous, reverberant spaces. Think voices soaring through arched cathedrals. But madrigals by Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso, with their more intimate storytelling vibe, are suited for smaller venues — like, say, the living room of New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips.

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Deceptive Cadence
8:05 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Jeremy Denk's Joyfully Mad Ligeti

Mito-Habe Evans NPR

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:41 pm

Armed with cameras and microphones, we recently invaded the rehearsal spaces of prominent musicians. The result is "In Practice," a new series of videos you can watch here.

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In Practice
9:19 am
Wed June 20, 2012

In Practice: New York Polyphony

New York Polyphony perform Renaissance songs for an In Practice recording session.
Mito Habe-Evans NPR

The four-man vocal ensemble New York Polyphony sings ancient music built for big resonant spaces. Since they can't just pop into St. Patrick's Cathedral any time they need to practice a renaissance mass, the group rehearses sometimes in the Jackson Heights home of bass singer Craig Phillips. There, in a modest-sized living room, they can hear every detail. "It's a very different experience rehearsing in a dry room and a small room," says tenor Geoffrey Silver. "You actually hear what you and your colleagues are singing, there's no watercolor wash over what you are doing."

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In Practice
9:16 am
Wed June 20, 2012

In Practice: Jonathan Biss

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:05 pm

It's tough to concentrate on the rigors of Beethoven with jackhammers pounding in your ears. So when they started demolishing the building next to Jonathan Biss, he moved his piano out of his apartment into a separate studio, away from the commotion. "I would get up in the morning, the piano wasn't there, and I had to leave my apartment to go practice and I've decided that's a much more productive way of working," he says. Biss needs a good working environment for his massive project.

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In Practice
9:15 am
Wed June 20, 2012

In Practice: Jeremy Denk

Mito Habe-Evans NPR

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 2:03 pm

Jeremy Denk has his own personal "piano boot camp." Actually, it's his cramped Manhattan apartment. Beside his beloved books, a trusty coffee pot and a laptop, there's not much to do except practice. Which Denk does, hours and hours a day on a Steinway wedged into his living room. On a good day, he brews pot of coffee number one at about 11, then plays for about five hours. Perhaps a run to the gym, then pot number two is brewed at about 6, followed by more playing — until the neighbors complain.

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Deceptive Cadence
1:26 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

NPR Classical's Favorite Albums Of 2012 (So Far)

SFS Media

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 12:50 pm

If the classical music record industry is trouble, you'd never know it by looking at my desk, or that of my colleague Anastasia Tsioulcas — mountains of good old-fashioned compact discs, ready for listening. And our digital space is also getting crowded by more and more downloads. It all adds up to a super broad range of music and musicians. As the year is half over, we've taken stock of a few (of our many) favorites and surprises so far. Listen to our discussion above and hear longer excerpts below of some of the best classical releases of 2012.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:03 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Analog For Astronauts: An Ambient Classic Reimagined

The Apollo 11 space module above the surface of the moon.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 5:02 pm

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

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Deceptive Cadence
10:17 am
Fri June 8, 2012

The Peril Of The Flying Violin

Recent revisions to British Airways' carry-on luggage rules can confuse travelers with musical instruments.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 4:50 pm

My two-week stay in Europe ended earlier this week with a stroke of luck: My German father-in-law gave me his beautiful old violin, the one he's played since he was 11. But getting it back safely to the U.S. was more of a problem than I imagined.

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Deceptive Cadence
3:41 pm
Sat May 5, 2012

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

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

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

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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Deceptive Cadence
4:00 am
Sun April 1, 2012

Beethoven's 10th Symphony: For Real?

Did Beethoven write a 10th symphony that was lost to history?
Clemens Bilan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:33 pm

Everyone knows Beethoven wrote nine symphonies, right? Or did he? Undiscovered manuscripts keep popping up all the time. Uncovering a lost 10th symphony by Beethoven would surely give the classical music world something to shout about.

It could happen — at least it could according to our colleagues over at Weekend Edition Sunday. Reporter Naomi Lewin carefully unfolds the mysterious saga of a new Beethoven discovery, as a part of our April 1 news coverage.

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Deceptive Cadence
12:51 pm
Sun February 12, 2012

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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Deceptive Cadence
1:40 pm
Sun December 11, 2011

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

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

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

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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Tiny Desk Concerts
1:00 pm
Sat November 26, 2011

Gabriel Kahane: Tiny Desk Concert

Cristina M. Fletes/NPR
  • Audio Only: Gabriel Kahane's Tiny Desk Concert

Gabriel Kahane seems to enjoy blurring the lines between indie rock and indie classical. He arrived at the NPR Music offices with a string quartet and an electric guitarist in tow, and though they hadn't played together for long, you'd never know it.

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Deceptive Cadence
6:43 pm
Wed October 19, 2011

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

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

Johannes Ifkovitz Decca

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

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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