Emma Riggle

As All Classical Portland's Music Researcher, I write about the cultural and historical context of our music, and provide our hosts with historical notes to share on the air. I find that when I learn about what a piece of music meant to the time and the people that produced it, the music speaks to me in a more personal and moving way. I hope that my work helps you find new connections with this music we love.

I hail from Pennsylvania and Ohio, where I earned degrees in voice and music history at Geneva College and Youngstown State University. I taught university courses in voice and music appreciation before venturing west to the gloriously arts-filled city of Portland.
When I’m not busy writing, you’re likely to find me around our city singing and playing early music, or reading and painting in the cozy home I share with my husband Nathaniel and three spunky rabbits.

Latest blog entries from Emma Riggle:

Musical Friendships

In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Henry David Thoreau described friendship: “They cherish each other’s hopes. They are kind to each other’s dreams.”  So much beautiful music has come to the world through the mutual encouragement of friends. In this post, we will explore some historic friendships in classical music, when great… More


Amy Beach: Poetry and the Piano

Poetry was a major theme in the music of American composer Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944). Her 117 art songs explore a huge range of poets, from Robert Browning to Robert Burns. Amy Beach’s love of poetry also appears in a large catalogue of choral compositions, with settings of poets like Oliver Wendell Holmes, in… More


The García Sisters, Part II: Pauline Viardot

Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot were two of the bel canto era’s greatest mezzo sopranos. Sisters, and daughters of the imposing Spanish pedagogue Manuel García, Malibran and Viardot each left an indelible mark on nineteenth-century opera. Each was also a composer, a quality less celebrated during their lifetimes. Malibran, who died tragically young in 1836,… More


The García Sisters, Part I: Maria Malibran

Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot were two of the bel canto era’s greatest mezzo sopranos. Sisters, and daughters of the imposing Spanish pedagogue Manuel García, Malibran and Viardot each left an indelible mark on nineteenth-century opera. Each was also a composer, but their ability to compose was less celebrated during their lifetimes. Malibran, who died… More


Black Renaissance Woman: Meet Musicologist-Pianist Samantha Ege

It is part of All Classical Portland’s mission to expand and advance knowledge of and appreciation for classical music. If you’re just starting to discover music outside the traditional classical canon, there’s no better composer to start with than that African American 20th-century composer Florence Price, whose music has been enjoying a recent resurgence in… More


The Stories of Twelve Carols: 2021 Edition

Each year, All Classical Portland’s Program Director John Pitman, selects twelve carols from our extensive Festival of Carols library for a deep dive look into their origins. In 2019’s list of carols, we explored favorites like The First Nowell and Adeste fidelis. 2020’s list included Riu, riu, chiu and The Sussex Carol. In this year’s list, you’ll encounter sultry Medieval ballads, surprising Victorian retrofits, indigenous… More


Hispanic Composers in America

During Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15-October 15, we at All Classical Portland are excited to celebrate the rich musical contributions of Latino and Hispanic composers. In this list, we’d like to introduce you to a few fascinating composers of Hispanic heritage who have lived or worked in the United States. We’ll start back in the… More


Historic Buildings and Historic Performances

If we think of music as a mirror of culture, then all music has something to tell us about ourselves and our history. Likewise, the places associated with this music—cities, landmarks, buildings—can teach us about our society and our past, and the powerful and lasting connections between art, architecture, and music. Countless historic buildings have played a part in the story of music and place:… More


A Mighty Chinful: Great Moments in Composer Facial Hair

In celebration of World Beard Day (observed every year on the first Saturday of September), Warren Black, your morning host at All Classical, felt it was time for a retrospective on some great moments in composers’ facial hair. That’s why he teamed up with Emma Riggle, All Classical’s Music Researcher, to assemble this chronological gallery of fine classical beards, bristles, ‘staches, mutton (and/or lamb) chops and more. Here is their hail… More


Classical Sounds of Summer

Warmth, reflection, and adventure: summer can be a time for all of these and more, and classical music has explored the season in all its expressions. From Vivaldi’s “Summer” from The Four Seasons, to Frederick Delius’s Summer Night on the River, the literature is full of favorites perfect for summertime. In this list, we’d like to share some lesser-known romantic, modern,… More


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