Rob Kapilowconductor, Composer, Commentator
What Makes It Great!FamilyMusik®Citypieces

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~ Rob Kapilow’s
What Makes It
Great? Short
Great Composers

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~ Rob Kapilow’s
All You Have to
Do Is Listen:
Music from the
Inside Out,

more ]

What Makes It Great?®

~ Acclaim for Rob Kapilow
~ What Audiences Are Saying

Acclaim for Rob Kapilow’s What Makes It Great?®

~ “[Rob Kapilow] has two innate qualities that make him great. First, he possesses that rare gift of gab and a corollary personality that is instantly likable. Second, he has the kind of mind that can construct paragraphs to explain to both sophisticate and novitiate the inside baseball aspects of classical music. When the subject is Beethoven, there is a lot to explore.
     There is always a eureka moment in one of Mr. Kapilow’s presentations and this day it came at the very beginning of Mr. Neiman's realization of the entire sonata. Beethoven begins to develop his opening theme in the very first four measures, some of the meatiest writing for a solo instrument prior to Anton Webern. Thanks to Rob Kapilow, we could all appreciate this stroke of genius live in performance.”
    — Fred Kirshnit, The New York Sun

~ “Rob Kapilow’s adaptation of ‘What Makes it Great?’ for a student audience was amazing! Over 20,000 intermediate and high school students sat in rapt attention as they learned about the inner workings of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony – an experience which provided them with a strong foundation for a lifetime appreciation of this masterpiece. Rob’s student concerts, delivered with incredible enthusiasm and energy, are the perfect combination of education and entertainment. We look forward to our next musical discovery with Rob as our guide.”
    — Roberta Smith, Associate Director of Artistic Administration, Education, Toronto Symphony Orchestra

~ “This was a knockout combination of education and entertainment ... Hearing each song after Kapilow revealed its musical secrets was like meeting a celebrity just after reading his or her autobiography. Throughout the show Kapilow never once sounded dry or academic — but he did sound smart, enthusiastic, and stunningly articulate. He has a remarkable ability to make genius understandable to a general audience.”

~ “You could practically see the light bulbs going on above people’s heads ... At the end of one of Kapilow’s points, the J. Crew teenager behind me said aloud and to no one in particular: ‘Wow, that was awesome! Did you hear that?’ ... The audience could decipher the music in a new, deeper way. It was the total opposite of passive listening.”
    — Philadelphia Inquirer

~ “You’ve never heard a classical music concert like this before ... Kapilow’s exuberance transported the audience back into the mind of the composer and his contemporaries. ... Kapilow is a masterful teacher, audience members agreed. ‘It’s like watching baseball,’ said one La Jolla resident. ‘If you don’t know the rules of the game, it’s not that much fun. But if you have an expert sitting there next to you, explaining what’s going on and the history of the players, it brings a whole new level of appreciation.’”
    — San Diego Union-Tribune

~ “Kapilow gets audiences in tune with classical music at a deeper and more immediate level than many of them thought possible.”
    — Los Angeles Times

~ “Mr. Kapilow has a remarkable gift for making academic analysis not only accessible but compelling as well. It was the kind of enlightening musical seminar in which you hang on to every word and note.”
    — The New York Times

~ “Rob Kapilow is one of these academically sure-footed, silver-tongued prophets, and he, with Beethoven and the Borromeo String Quartet, left most of yesterday’s audience convinced that the rumors of music’s death are greatly exaggerated.”
    — Boston Globe

~ “What makes ‘What Makes It Great?®’ great? Well, Kapilow is as enthusiastic as the Energizer Bunny and profound at the same time. He is learned and funny, and he edifies the musically experienced at the same time as he reaches non-musicians in the audience. (‘I didn’t think I was teachable,’ my husband said, shaking his head in amazement, after attending his first Kapilow ‘What Makes It Great?®’) He has perfect pitch in orchestrating the interplay with his confederate performers, just as he does in making sure the audience gets the points he wants to make. I’ve heard wonderful concerts in New York this fall (as I do in Ann Arbor). Almost none touch the exhilaration of a ‘What Makes It Great?®’”
    — Ann Arbor News

~ Kapilow’s What Makes It Great?® Bernstein event at Lincoln Center was selected as one of The New York Times’s “Top Ten Moments” of 2002’s theater offerings.

~ selected the following in its “Best of Cabaret 2002” awards:
Most Unique Act or Performance:

  • Rob Kapilow with Ann Hampton Callaway at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series
  • Rob Kapilow with Brian d’Arcy James at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series

~ “The baby-faced boy wonder is recognized as something of a magician, who has the rare ability to coax an untrained ear to appreciate the complexities of a Mozart aria or the messages in a Schubert quintet in the course of a couple of hours.”
    — LA Weekly

~ “Because Kapilow is so good at what he does, knowledge about how music actually works, how it is put together – as opposed to dry facts about composers’ lives – doesn’t fly away with the whirlwind, but instead lodges in the memory, where they can grow.”
    — Boston Globe

~ “With a wildly enthusiastic style, Kapilow took each song apart piece by piece explaining (in surprisingly easy to understand terms for untrained listeners) what made each song great ... Together they would slowly put the song back together, lyric by lyric and phrase by phrase, until [Ann Hampton] Callaway would perform the song in full, always to spectacular effect with the audience’s newly discovered insights into the piece resonating in their hearts and minds. It was a bravura display from both artists.”
    — Show Business

~ “Classical music can claim to be the least understood of [high culture genres], one result of which is a new flowering of programs and performers devoted to elucidating its mysteries. Pre-eminent among these is Rob Kapilow. The ‘Jupiter’ [Symphony] was a good test case, and it’s worth noting that Mr. Kapilow helped sharpen the ear and bring out details even to someone who has heard the piece dozens of times. The audience seemed to listen more intently than usual to the complete performance of the piece that Mr. Kapilow led after intermission: not a cough, barely a rustle. The real point was helping people learn to listen better, and that Mr. Kapilow achieved admirably.”
    — New York Times

~ “Successful presenters guide listeners into treacherous scores. They offer essential information and then supervise listeners as they attempt to hear the music in a new way – hopefully with a new sense of wonder. If they do their job, their newbies leave better able to listen. Musical tour guide Rob Kapilow and his ‘What Makes It So Great?’ presentations fit this mold well. The Lincoln Center darling, ... with his sharp voice, quickpaced comments, snappy wit, and third-grade-teacher-like enthusiasm, ... commands an audience’s attention and offers many useful methods to listen more carefully to great works. ... Educating an audience is essential for the future of classical music – for education leads to music enthusiasm. What makes Rob Kapilow so great is that he mastered the act. ... In a field devoid of skilled practitioners, he satisfies listeners at many if not all levels of musical sophistication.”
    — New York Sun

~ “It was one of the most enlightening shows that we’ve seen this side of Mr. Wizard.”

~ “The sermon was so energetic and convincing that wanted to believe that he had channeled the souls of the songwriters and heard from them personally ... Kapilow and McBroom were both entertainers of the highest order. They made you think as well as feel ... The material was great. The performances were great. And that made it great. Hallelujah!”
    — Press-Telegram, CA

Acclaim for Rob Kapilow

~ “The fellow is almost as good as Bernstein himself was at working audiences into a lather on the subject of music and its soothing and agitating charms.”
    — Village Voice

~ “Rob Kapilow is a born teacher, an enthusiast who can think on his feet, a 110 percent believer in the project at hand ... It’s a cheering thought that this kind of missionary enterprise did not pass from this earth with Leonard Bernstein. Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does. We need him.”
    — Boston Globe

~ “Rob Kapilow communicates about music better than anyone in America.”
    — The Next Big Thing, NPR

~ “Kapilow opens ears to music’s nuances ... Thanks to Kapilow’s efforts, more people can enjoy paying attention to the banquet at every concert hall.”
    — Boston Herald

~ “If you think you don’t like classical music, you haven’t met Rob Kapilow. And if you think that even the Pied Piper couldn’t make you love chamber music, think again ... Not since the late Leonard Bernstein did his Young People’s Concerts with the New York Philharmonic has classical music had a combination salesman-teacher as irresistible as Kapilow ... He’s as lively as a top-flight sports announcer (and) as entertaining as a stand-up comedian. But he’s also got substance in spades.”
    — Kansas City Star

What Audiences Are Saying

~ “I must concur with a caller I heard the other day speaking about the commentary on ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ I was driving to school and running later than usual, and had to thank God for that, because otherwise I would have missed it. It brought tears to my eyes as well, and the song has been flowing in and out of my consciousness all week because of that. Thank you.”
    — NPR listener

~ “Thank you Rob Kapilow for explaining so simply and succinctly why ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ has been a favorite of mine since childhood.  I never knew I was travelling to Oz and back along with Dorothy but I guess I was! Thanks for showing me the way!”
    — NPR listener

~ “Thanks for a great show ... Every time I hear ‘What Makes It So Great?’ I learn something new not just about one piece, but about the way music is strung together to evoke feeling, thought, and consciousness.”
    — NPR listener

~ “I was captivated! Sitting in my car at home, I did not want to miss one single word or beat as Rob Kapilow exquisitely analyzed ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ by running in to the house to listen some more. As I listened to the passion and insight of this musician’s descriptions, although I loved my music profs, I couldn’t help but wish that he had been my Form and Analysis or Music History teacher in college. It was truly an unforgettable experience. Keep up the fantastic work!
    — NPR listener

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