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Ken Zahnle

Ken Zahnle

Music Director

Ken oversees all music programming for Tri States Public Radio, hosting the morning classical music program Ovation, the Saturday nigh jazz survey After Hours, and engineering recorded performances for TSPR. Ken is a native of Highland Park, IL, with degrees in music and broadcasting from Western Illinois University. Teenage years listening to Chicago's old-school fine arts and classical radio stations, coupled with a few months spinning discs on a college residence hall radio station, led him onto the primrose career path of radio. Ken has deep roots at TSPR, starting as a student staff announcer and host, before becoming news director for a group of local radio stations, then Program Director for Tri States Audio Information Services. When he's not deep within our studios and music library, he continues his over quarter-century of assisting Macomb High School's Marching Band.

  • Born in Brooklyn in 1962, Jennifer Higdon grew up near Atlanta and in Appalachian Tennessee, teaching herself flute at 15 and playing drums in high school marching band… not beginning college composition studies until she was 21. Nevertheless, she earned degrees from Penn and the Curtis institute, where she would later teach composing.
  • From the studio… to the work camps… to the opera… and on to academia and America… Chen Yi is the most prominent woman of a generation of Chinese-born composers.
  • Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s career has been marked by several firsts: she was the first woman to graduate with a doctorate in composition from Julliard; she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in music; and the first female composer to be mentioned in Charles Schulz’s iconic comic strip Peanuts.
  • American Joan Tower did not originally intend to become a composer, but at 18 she wrote a piece for a college class and immediately thought, “I can do better”--- and, as she said in 2018, “for the next 60 years, I tried to do better.”
  • Scottish composer Thea Musgrave once had a dream in which a single clarinet player led the entire orchestra to mutiny--- a dream she realized in her 1967 Concerto for Orchestra.
  • Born Germaine Taillefesse… she changed her last name to spite her father, who tried to forbid her a career in music…Germaine Tailleferre was the only female member of the famed generation of French composers known as The Six.
  • One composed brilliantly but died early in the 20th century… the other helped create the composers of the rest of the century.Sisters Lili and Nadia Boulanger both achieved important firsts for women in music. Born into a Paris Conservatoire family, they showed their talent early: Nadia enrolled at the Conservatoire at the age of nine, and Lili tagged along with her to lessons… she was just four.
  • In 2009 a family began renovating an abandoned house in St. Anne, Illinois, and were astonished to discover piles of paper throughout the home… music manuscripts.
  • The first successful American woman composer of large-scale works, Amy Cheney could improvise counter-melodies at age two, taught herself to read music at three, and began playing her own works at her first public recitals at seven. From 16 to 18 she impressed Boston audiences with virtuosic performances of Chopin and Mendelssohn concertos.
  • She was one of the most popular composers in England and America at the turn of the 20th century, with one or more of her nearly 400 compositions found in almost every musical home, and the first woman composer to be elected Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor… but she was virtually forgotten her last three decades.