Kara McLeland | Nashville Public Radio

Kara McLeland

Classical Music Host

A Wyoming native, Kara relocated to Tennessee in 2005 to earn an undergraduate degree in voice performance and composition from Belmont University and a master’s degree in musicology from MTSU.

In addition to hosting on Classical 91.1, she has taught courses in music history and appreciation at Belmont and MTSU. She is also a singer-songwriter, an active member of the Nashville theatre community, and a lover of photography, books, and dogs. She and her husband Ryan live in Nashville with their daughter, Rooney, and goldendoodle, Wallace. 


Ways to Connect

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

As one of Nashville's premiere vocal groups, Portara Ensemble's repertoire spans a wide range of genres and styles. Director Jason Shelton brought the ensemble and one of their diverse programs to the studio in advance of their June 3rd concert, called "Home." The performance will be a benefit for Open Table Nashville, a non-profit organization working to end homelessness. And while the program might cover a range of styles — including a stunning performance of a traditional spiritual and the world premiere of a new work with words provided by members of the ensemble — the pieces are all thematically tied together by the idea of home.  

Courtesy of Colleen Phelps

"You won't hear anything: you'll hear everything," is how avant-garde musician John Cage described his events known as Musicircus. First performed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Musicircus began as an invitation for artists to come together in a space and perform whatever they chose, simultaneously.

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

Studio C was brimming with energy when two dozen 5th and 6th graders arrived from Scales Elementary School in Murfreesboro. Together, they form Steel de Boro, an after school student steel drum band lead by percussionist and Scales music teacher Tony Hartman. The group played several originals by Hartman and wrapped up their set with a Herbie Hancock classic. 

Chris Lee / Courtesy of the artist

Joshua Bell describes finding his instrument, a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin, as a “kind of love story that only happens once or twice in one’s life.” It’s a love story that involves more than a little bit of luck, too.

Courtesy of Nashville Ballet

This weekend, Nashville Ballet will debut Modern Masters, a new initiative designed to bring the work of the world's finest choreographers to Middle Tennessee audiences. The program includes works by George Balanchine, Jiří Kylián and Christopher Wheeldon— and while these names might be unfamiliar to the ballet novice, Nashville Ballet company member Judson Veach emphasized just how iconic they are in the dance world. 

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

Colleen Phelps stopped by this week with selections from the Animal Ambassador Album Project— works for marimba by five different composers, all dedicated to zoo animals born in 2017. The collection, inspired by the likes of Fiona the hippo from Cincinnati and Nashville Zoo's own clouded leopard, Niran, contains both composed works and poetry to which Phelps improvises. 

Kara / Nashville Public Radio

Lipscomb University piano professor Jerome Reed made his first appearance on Live in Studio C in April 1999. On that program, he performed music from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. 19 years (and many Live in Studio C performances) later, Reed was here this week with a very similar program to the one he first performed nearly two decades ago. 

Tyler Boye / Courtesy of the artist

Over the course of the last six months, Grammy-winning guitarist Jason Vieaux estimates he's spent well over 150 practice hours preparing for his debut with the Nashville Symphony this weekend. "This is the most time I've ever spent on any piece of music, ever, in my 25-year career as a performer," Vieaux told us over the phone. "That's how hard it is." 

Wikimedia Commons

On the cover of Black Violin's 2015 album Stereotypes is a violin, shattered and artfully arranged in a new, angular shape. It's a fitting visual for what the duo has been doing together for nearly 15 years: defying expected conventions about what music can sound like, and who can play it. 

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

Last month, Robert Thompson visited the studio as half of Duo Sudeste. This week, he returned as a director to showcase students from the Belmont University Guitar Ensemble. Ranging from freshman to seniors, the students performed music as duets and quartets in a variety of styles across the guitar repertoire.