Travel Across Europe on a Journey of Musical Discovery with the New Miniseries
Great Performances: Now Hear This
Fridays, September 20-October 11 on PBS
Hosted by acclaimed conductor and violinist Scott Yoo
Join Scott Yoo, renowned violinist and conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, in Now Hear This, a new four-part documentary miniseries presented by Great Performances that merges music, storytelling, travel and culture, as he chases the secret histories of some of the greatest music ever written. Great Performances: Now Hear This premieres Fridays, September 20-October 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app.
Throughout the series, Scott Yoo meets and collaborates with world-renowned virtuosos, local musical heroes across many genres, artisan instrument makers, music historians and other charismatic characters on his travels through Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Morocco. He visits legendary concert halls, architectural masterworks, jazz jam sessions and never-before-filmed archives to connect the classics to the contemporary – finding time to explore and enjoy the culture along the way.
Each episode of Great Performances: Now Hear This focuses on a great composer, tracing the creation of their masterpieces and the profound, lasting cultural impact of their music, while exploring little known or recently discovered works and new music they inspired.
Great Performances: Now Hear This “Vivaldi: Something Completely Different”
Premieres Friday, September 20 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
In the series premiere, Scott Yoo crosses Northern Italy, chasing the story of one of the most recorded pieces of music in the world, Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” and discovers how the composer merged religious melodies, opera and a new level of violin playing to launch a new era of music. On the journey, Yoo discovers a new Vivaldi work, his connection to Stradivarius, a trove of original manuscripts and how Vivaldi’s music was almost lost to history.
Great Performances: Now Hear This “The Riddle of Bach”
Premieres Friday, September 27 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
Scott Yoo goes to Germany to learn Bach’s sonatas and partitas, widely considered among the greatest works ever written for solo violin. There, Yoo discovers a riddle Bach left behind in his portrait. In trying to solve it, Yoo and his wife, leading flutist Alice Dade, discover that Bach based his melodic style on Vivaldi and his rhythms on the music of the French court, which leads to a spectacular finale in Paris.
Great Performances: Now Hear This “Scarlatti: Man Out of Time”
Premieres Friday, October 4 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
Join Scott Yoo in Spain and Morocco to discover the greatest composer you’ve never heard of: Domenico Scarlatti. He was the finest keyboard player in Europe, hired by the Queen of Spain as her personal instructor. Into Vivaldi’s melodies and Bach’s fugues, Scarlatti incorporated the sounds of Spain – Moorish, Jewish, Gypsy, folk, dance and guitar – to create a new musical language that inspired generations of musicians after him.
Great Performances: Now Hear This “Handel: Italian Style”
Premieres Friday, October 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nowhearthis and the PBS Video app
Before becoming the most famous composer of his time, Handel gained a lifetime of experience in Italy. Welcomed by wealthy patrons, he traveled with the Scarlatti family and learned from Corelli and the masters of the Italian Style. Yoo returns to Italy to follow in Handel’s footsteps, taking in the art, architecture, fashion, food, wine, light and landscape that, even beyond Italian music, shaped this German composer for the rest of his life.
“Great Performances is delighted to debut this new miniseries with Scott Yoo,” said Great Performances Executive Producer David Horn. “With our long tradition of presenting the best in performance, we see this series as an opportunity to dig deeper into the origins of baroque music by hearing virtuoso musicians in their native cultures, incorporating elements of investigative documentary and travelogue to help viewers better understand this enduringly beautiful music.”
“For years I’ve wanted to share the amazing stories behind our most celebrated music with a wider audience,” said Now Hear This Host and Executive Producer Scott Yoo. “With Now Hear This, I can finally bring viewers to the musical capitals of Europe on spectacular journeys of discovery. It’s fitting that great music, great travel and great stories at last come together on Great Performances.”
Yoo is the Chief Conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Music Director of Festival Mozaic, the Conductor of the Colorado College Music Festival and the founder of the Medellín Festicámara, a chamber music program that brings together world-class artists with underprivileged young musicians. He has led the Colorado, Dallas, Indianapolis, New World, San Francisco, and Utah Symphonies.
Now Hear This was created by producer, writer and director Harry Lynch and is a production of Arcos Film + Music. Harry Lynch, Scott Yoo, Marion Lear Swaybill and Richard Lim are executive producers. Great Performances is produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.
Throughout its more than 40-year history on PBS, Great Performances has provided viewers across the country with an unparalleled showcase of the best in all genres of the performing arts, serving as America’s most prestigious and enduring broadcaster of cultural programming. The series is available for streaming simultaneously on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. PBS station members can view episodes via Passport (contact your local PBS station for details).
Major funding for Now Hear This is provided by The Iris and Joseph Pollock Fund, the Perot Foundation, George and Katherine Drastal, The Francesco and Mary Giambelli Foundation, Patricia Needleman, The Howard J. Hansen Trust, Ann Janes-Waller and Fletch Waller, and Marvin J. Brittman. Major funding for Great Performances is provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, Rosalind P. Walter, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Thea Petschek Iervolino Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, public television viewers and PBS.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station: parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its new ALL ARTS multi-platform initiative, its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each month. WNET produces and presents a wide range of acclaimed PBS series, including Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, and the nightly interview program Amanpour and Company. In addition, WNET produces numerous documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings, as well as multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty and climate. Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.
I'm Scott Yoo. Come with me to discover the greatest music ever written like you've never experienced it before.
Join me on spectacular journeys around the world to Now Hear This.
I get chills reading Vivaldi's handwriting. I thought that Vivaldi's Four Seasons didn't have a manuscript.
Oh, it's different!
From the ancient songs that inspired it, to the many composers that it then inspired.
So Bach was a Vivaldi admirer!
I'll take in the famous landscapes of food of Italy. --I've never had anything this good. --This is the art of being a southern Italian.
Meeting renowned musicians, singers, and violin makers. --This is very special. They don't make them like this anymore, do they? --Genius is genius.
Along the way I'll learn how Vivaldi gathered the sounds of his country, and captured them. Then I'll hear and play some of his other great works which were nearly lost to history. --It's rock 'n' roll like Elvis, yes!
Next, come with me to meet the greatest musician of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach, --This is him definitely. --It's a bit like a labyrinth here... whose violin music is some of the most perfect, most difficult in existence. --I have to make pretzels out of my fingers!
To play it I'll first need to understand his personality.
--Maybe it's the place where he created some of his most genius works! This is a riddle, you need to figure out what it And understand his influences. --I never knew Bach's sense of melody came from Vivaldi.
I'll travel with my wife Alice Dade, across Germany.
And into France to Paris to meet some of today's great musicians.
This is, you know, folk music.
Oh my god.
What we discover along the way will change my mind about Bach forever.
--That's part of his genius! He makes you work for it.
Up next, come with me to Spain to discover Domenico Scarlatti the greatest composer you've never heard of.
--Of course that's Scarlatti. - -Of course.
I'll follow his footsteps to discover the sounds and rhythms that inspired him. --This is a really cool place. it's a little Faberge egg.
And I'll realize that he was more important to the history of music than I could have ever imagined.
--He's playing with all these ingredients to build a world where everything is possible.
We all need inspiration. I take mine from the work of our greatest composers and I hope that you can too.
See the first four episodes of Now Hear This, only on Great Performances.