Those Magnificent Philadelphians!

You might think that the above title is referring to the famous Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, Samuel Barber, or even Vincent Persichetti, but anyone who knows me would know that would not be totally the case. I am not trying to be disrespectful to them of course, but I’d rather focus on what is happening in Philadelphia now. We have many great musicians, composers and artists living and associated with the City of Brotherly Love.

Over the years some of them have visited the WPRB studio including Andrea Clearfield, George Crumb, Daniel Dorff, James Freeman, Jennifer Higdon and of course Alan Harler and Robert Moran, who are returning for a visit together this Wednesday, October 3  from 10:00am till 1:00pm for what promises to be an exciting 3 hours of programming!!  

Robert Moran at WPRB Studio during his 2011 interview

On the venue will be a discussion of the October 21, 2012 world premiere performance of Robert Moran’s Angus Dei and the commissioned, full-chorus version of the ethereal Trinity Requiem, with the Philadelphia Boys Choir and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, as well as of course other subjects related to music.

 

Alan Harler has been artistic director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia from 1988 and is only the 12th person to hold that position since the chorus’s founding in 1874.


He is an exceptional conductor with a global reach and is a strong supporter of new American music. During his tenure with the Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned 48 new compositions. Yes, a man close to my heart.  I have attended many of their concerts for the last 15 years and was never disappointed. This will be Alan’s second visit to the WPRB studio.


Robert Moran is an American composer of operas and ballets as well as many orchestral, vocal, chamber and dance works.  He has been a “Classical Discoveries” guest several times over the years.

The Trinity Requiem issued on the Innova Label received the world premiere broadcast on Classical Discoveries in August, 2011 with a repeat broadcast during the 24-hour 9/11 Marathon.

This wonderful CD together with Moran’s 3 others issued on the Innova label as well as the Mendelssohn Club CD with music of Higdon, Clearfield and Primosh (also on Innova) will be offered as special premiums only on Wednesday, October 10 between 5:00am and 1:00pm during the special Fund Drive Edition of my program.

In a few days I will post more details about the Fund Drive and will also provide a  link to the list of special premiums offered only during the program.

Classical Discoveries airs each Wednesday on WPRB at 103.3 FM Princeton or on-line at www.wprb.com

If you cannot listen that day you have the option to record program via DAR.fm   (custom link:DAR.fm/classicaldiscoveries(wprb), or listen to the archives for over two weeks after each show at: http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org/index_music.html

Robert Moran (*1937): Requiem: Chant du Cygne, for 4 Choruses and 4 Chamber Ensembles (1990).

Artistic Director Alan Harler Describes Andrea Clearfield’s World Premiere

The Kitten, Venti Dita and the Music!

It is  hard to imagine that there will be no more occasional sitting in front of the TV or enjoying the sounds of the garden in the evening with Beata and a glass of wine. Yes, I am going back to teaching this Monday.  I am sad about the passing of summer but am also exited about the new school year, especially that this year I will be teaching four classes of my favorite subject – music history. I am also looking forward to my upcoming recital and new CD of piano duos.

I did not do much of what I planned at all. I had no time for blogs, catching up with Facebook friends or extra trips to New York and the Amish County. My summer was devoted though to plenty of piano music and cats, two of my favorite subjects.

The Kitten!

On my last day of school we become  parents to a little, scroungy looking black kitten with white spots, who if would not be found by students in a Princeton University dumpster, would be crushed to death.

Pix day one

Now, after 3 months and dozens of sleepless nights, many broken flowerpots, chewed up hibiscus, 2 planters that became kitty litter boxes and dozens more emergency cleanups, our little kitten Pix, is taller and heavier than our biggest cat, Puszek. He provides us with joy and constant entertainment as well as a means for exercise for our other three other kitties that were sleeping over 20 hours a day.

Venti Dita!

Finally, after working for almost two years together with Jennifer, we came up with the name for our piano duo: Venti Dita. I think that this is a really cool, simple musical name – 20 fingers in Italian.

The biggest achievement and time-consuming activity this summer was the recording of our first duo CD devoted to contemporary music for piano 4 hands, at Purchase College, Purchase, NY.

When my wife commuted to work in Willow Grove in Pa. I always teased her that she picked the very early starting time of 5:30am to get good parking and to avoid traffic on the PA turnpike. The karma caught with me this summer when after my first trip to Purchase, I was almost late to our first recording session, despite the fact I left more than enough time.

Now it was her time for her to get back at me and remind me of the old times. After that first week I would leave home at 5am to pass the George Washington Bridge before it turned into a parking lot. My extra time would spent in a Diner having a hearty breakfast with Jennifer and yes, sipping good tea, especially since we would take only a short break for lunch that Beata packed for us in a small cooler so we would not waste time driving to another diner. Coming back home was also tied up to traffic patterns. Having dinner before leaving Westchester solved this problem and most times I had a smooth trip home.

I feel sorry for drivers that must put up with this kind of aggravation on the road every day. For last 15 years I take a train instead of drive to New York.

I am very lucky to live very close to my school as well as to WPRB, since the traffic around Princeton is not much better, especially now when NJDOT closed a few local roads, creating havoc for local drivers.

We had 3 recording sessions plus 3 sessions with our wonderful engineer, Andy Cardenas.  One recording session was extremely exhausting since we could  not use the air conditioner and the temperature outside soared to  98 degrees.

Yea!!!! We have a gold master and it sounds really great, but we still have many steps to take care before the CD can be released. Hopefully the recording will be out before the end of the year.  Cannot wait!!!

The Music!

Each year I devote much time in the summer to listen to music, but this summer I spent more time at the piano.

Besides hosting my both radio programs at WPRB, and yes, celebrating at the end of May the beginning of my 16th year on the air, I spent my summer preparing for the recording sessions as well as my upcoming piano recital devoted to contemporary music.

On the radio I presented a few special Early Music Editions, hosted a jazz program with music by classical composers inspired by jazz, and had a few guests such as the young Serbian composer-violinist Ana Milosavljević, Australian composer and conductor Sean O’Boye, Elliott Carter expert Joe Barron, and pianist Rosanne Vita Nahass who recently released a CD featuring the Concord, Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass.  by Charles Ives. Finally, I celebrated John Cage’s 100th Birthday with an unexpected 6-hour edition of “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde”.

My piano recital titled “Contemporary Piano Miniatures”, will be Sunday afternoon, September 23 at 3:00pm in Bristol Chapel at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and will include music from many countries. I will be joined in several works by my piano duo partner Jennifer Castellano, and will perform selections included on our upcoming CD.

And yes, this concert is FREE!!!!  So if you are around, please join me and if you are afraid of new music, here is your opportunity to try without risk. Princeton is a charming town in  early autumn.

If you listen to “Classical Discoveries” you will recognize the names of many composers. In addition, you will hear a complete performance of the work by my duo partner Jennifer I use as my opening theme.

I feel very lucky that I am in position as an educator, performer and radio host to expose new and unknown music to many.

Before I conclude, I would just like to remind you all that we must support our living composers today as they were supported by their contemporaries in earlier centuries.

If you want directions or more information please email me at Marvinarosen@gmail.com

If you are on Facebook and attend please sign the guest list at: https://www.facebook.com/events/438945242823380/

Classical Discoveries – First 15 years on the air

When I nervously walked for the first time to the WPRB studio at about fifteen minutes to six on Thursday morning, May 29, 1997 I had no idea that I would be celebrating 15 years on the air.

It was only days after a trip to Poland and finding out that I would be losing my position as Classical CD Buyer at the Princeton University Store. The new management did not see any value in promoting classical music and got better returns in selling t-shirts.

After all, who needed culture in a University town? A few “3 Tenors” CD’s strategically placed between trashy books was enough to make a better profits with the average tourists visiting town. It did not count that my small, eclectic department attracted buyers (attending workshops and University conferences) from all over the world and that these buyers roamed around the store spending money on other stuff.

When I walked into the WPRB studio I did not know that this would be the only good thing keeping me going for the next 2 years.

I am very proud of Princetonians. The news of the closing CD department caused a public outcry that caused the temporary reversal of the initial decision, but I paid dearly for it. I resigned from my position after 2 years, when I could not endure any more harassment (privately and in front of all other management staff) and psychological bullying, something I will never forget. I should have walked out when the original decision was made because after that whatever I would do was insufficient or wrong for management.

This is when in the mist of all things Classical Discoveries, an idea of the advertising guru for Princeton University Store, was born. Since WPRB’s advertising rates were (and still are) the best around and they were looking for summer Classical DJ’s, my position in both places could help. Unfortunately again, management was not interested in promoting CD sales while helping a local station at the same time.

I remember like yesterday my first day when after 15 minutes of training (yes, 15 minutes before WPRB went on the air) by a DJ named Tyler, I had been left on my own and remember that my voice was shaking.  Boy, was I nervous! I even forgot to stop the CD player and announced the next work while the first CD was still playing.

New t-shirt with Classical Discoveries logo

It took several months for my program to become what it is now and you can read about that in one of my first blogs ”More about me”

Like everything in life, I have had good times and bad times, but I will never regret the moment when I realized that during my first trying months on the air, I could make a difference for music and composers that are not household names. Over the years many of them, as well as some listeners have become my friends.

To this day,  planning my radio show is one of the most fun things I do every week, and it is still amazing to think that this all started during one of the most difficult times of my life.  It has never been a chore to get up at 4:00am, or to stay awake for 24 hours during one of my marathons.

During the last 15 years I have had many mishaps and disasters. Some of these were funny and some were embarrassing. These keep live radio exciting since you never know what may happen next. I was turned into an icicle when locked out at 5:15am outside of Bloomberg Hall for 50 minutes with a wind-chill factor of 0 during a Christmas break. I was also locked out,  outside of the studio for 45 minutes during a Fund Drive. Luckily the music kept playing and the phones kept ringing during this time!  I barely made it to the hospital for hernia surgery, being saved by Jon Solomon, after the next DJ following me could not make to the station, with a FCC agent breathing down my neck.

I lived through the station moving from the dungeons of Holder Hall to the new place in Bloomberg Hall in 2004. I was delighted when we moved because I stopped getting parking tickets!  I also lived through the time when we became member supported several years ago.  During my 15 years, there have been at least 12 classical directors and 14 station managers as well as countless numbers of student and community DJ’s, some of whom I remember and some I do not.

At ASCAP Award Ceremony with Paul Moravec and Beata

I remember December 15, 2005, when after 2 hours waiting for my turn, I lost my voice during my acceptance speech at the ASCAP Award ceremony in NY. Imagine, getting a radio award and losing my voice in front of an auditorium full of people. Thinking about this now, really makes me laugh!

In 2001 with help of a friend, I created my website, with the picture of my first piano CD as a logo. The  website and logo went through a face-lift in 2009. In 2007, following the example of the Christmas Marathon Giant Jon Solomon, I presented my 1st 21st Century Music Marathon.  In the summer of 2008, the new program “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde” was born (program designed to accommodate works that very often fall between the cracks and are difficult to classify as well as many electronic selections and more avant-garde works ignored by most radio stations).

Thanks to the help of friend and composer, Steve Layton and my wife, you can listen to archived programs for over 2 weeks after their first broadcast just by going to special page on my website, or if you prefer you can record and download the programs through Dar.fm – Digital Recorder.  These new features began just a few months ago.

Some weeks ago, I finally located a box of memorabilia that contained 3 notebooks of old playlists from 1997 till March 2001. I forgot so many things and going through each page brought back many memories.

Classical Discoveries two first playlists

The most important thing is that without a station like WPRB - a station that supports individuality, my program could not exist.  I know, that no classical manager on a regular commercial or NPR station would allow me to program 100% the music of my choice. Thank you WPRB for my last 15 years on the air.

When you read this blog, please remember that thou all DJ’s at WPRB are volunteers, the station needs your support to survive and pay its expenses.

I  would like to thank to all listeners that supported me through all those years. Your phones and letters were and are very important to me.

I cannot end this memory trip without giving a credit to my wonderful wife, Beata. Without her endless support and hours of hard work on my website this program would never be what it is. I also want to thank her for her endless patience with me in learning correct Polish and other Slavic language pronunciation. I am always asked if I speak fluent Polish. No, I don’t speak Polish at all.  The only thing I can say in Polish is not very suitable to write, a sentence I used to say while walking our dog.

Yes, It has been an exciting 15 years and all I can say is that I hope that in 15 years from now I will be celebrating 30 years on the air.

I hope, that you will be able to join me and celebrate my 15th anniversary this Wednesday, May 29 at 5:30am till 1:00pm. The combined Classical Discoveries and the Avant-Garde Edition will include listener requests and many works, which were officially presented as première broadcasts during the last 15 years.

As always, you can find more find more at: http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org  – home page for the program where new music lives for 15 years and where many discoveries begin.

What is new?

Yes, I am still here!

I just came back from my student piano recitals feeling really proud, but also happy that one more project is behind me.

My crazy April Odyssey continues without leaving much time for blogging, and my next blog will most likely be just before the fifteenth anniversary of my program, which was broadcast for the first time on May 29 1997.

Wow, I cannot believe how fast the time goes. I was thinking about recreating my first show since I finally did find my book of old playlists, but it would make the program too traditional, so maybe I will play only a few selections from my first show. I do not know yet.

So, what is happening on Classical Discoveries and the Avant-Garde Edition?

This Wednesday, May 02, 2012 from 9:00am till 11:00am

American composer, organist and Messaian scholar Frank Ferko, known for his choral music inspired by Hildegard von Bingen will visit WPRB.

also

Next Wednesday, May 09, 2012 from 11:00am till 1:00pm on the Avant-Garde Edition,

American composer and Co-Director of New Amsterdam Records, Sara Kirkland Snider and whose work “Disquiet” will be premiering on May 13, 2012 by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, will be my guest.

As always, you can listen on 103.3 FM or on the Internet at: www.wprb.com

and if you cannot listen those days you can go to archived programs on my website or you can go to one more option: DAR.fm – a Digital Audio Recorder {a custom link: DAR.fm/classicaldiscoveries(wprb)} which has been tested by a number of people, is very convenient and works very well. You can stream the program later on your smart phone, PC or other audio devices.

Laus Trinitati from Frank Ferko’s Hildegard Motets

He Looks Out to Sea from Penelope work composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider

Easter Idles

I promised everyone that I will write blog about my take on Hovhaness Centennial and here, I failed again due to lack of time. Somehow I think Hovhaness will have to wait until my summer vacation.

Respect every religion - George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

Well, school duties are more important and even though the scholarship competition I coordinated is over, I still have much catching up to do.

I am really looking forward to this week’s holiday break and hope to listen to some wonderful music that piled up on my desk during the last two months of hard preparation for the competition.

Now, I can’t wait to be a bit lazy in home as well as to present my radio special, the fourth annual Sacred Bridges. My blog last year explained the origins of the program, so I can be very brief.

G.I.Gurdjieff’s music – No 40 “Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble”

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

This year I will be including several works by the controversial Greek-Armenian traveler, mystic and composer George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff who said the following:

  • Conscious faith is freedom. Emotional faith is slavery. Mechanical faith is foolishness.
  • Here there are neither Russians nor English, Jews nor Christians, but only those who pursue one aim – to be able to be.
  • RELIGION IS DOING; a man does not merely think his religion or feel it, he lives his religion as much as he is able, otherwise it is not religion but fantasy or philosophy. Whether he likes it or not he shows his attitude towards religion by his actions and he can show his attitude only by his actions. Therefore if his actions are opposed to those which are demanded by a given religion he cannot assert that he belongs to that religion.

“Meetings With Remarkable Men” Dance scene

To hear Sacred Bridges tune to WPRB this Wednesday, April 4, 2012 from 5:30am till 11:00am and the Avant-Guard Edition will continue till 1:00pm.

Gurdjieff Sacred Dance – Ho Yah

For early music lovers I will also be presenting  “Little known Treasures of Early Music for Easter”.  This will be happening on Easter Sunday April 8, at 10:00am through 1:00pm.

Hope you will be able to join me for both special holiday programs. You will find more details about each program on my website 2 days before each show.

If you are not able listen to the broadcast, you always can go to http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org/index_music and listen to both programs at your convenience within two weeks after the file is posted.

The Women Are Coming

Fifteen years ago, on my first Classical Discoveries program on WPRB, I played a work of the Polish violinist and composer, Grażyna Bacewicz. At this time it was hard to find a CD or LP with women composers and buying over the Internet had just begun.

Miniature painting of female musicians from Hasht-Behesht palace, Isfahan, Iran, from 1669

Before my marriage, I had no idea that March 8 was celebrated all over the world as International Women’s Day. My almost wife informed me that she was accustomed to receive her favorite flowers, freesia on that day.

When my first March came along, together with a Hovhaness birthday tribute, I played the music of a few women composers and my wife got a wonderful bouquet of freesia. Actually, to find freesia was easier than to find recordings of music by women, since this was the time of the Philadelphia Flower Show and the region exploded with flowers.

As my CD collection was growing I was able to eventually devote the entire month of March to woman composers.  This is how the annual series “In Praise Of Woman” was born and you know the rest.

Every March from 2004, in observance of Women’s History Month, Classical Discoveries pays tribute to music by women composers from all over the world and through the centuries. Every regular scheduled program (that includes the Avant-Garde Edition from 2009) is exclusively devoted to their music.

I heard many times the opinion that women are not capable to compose, write and paint, based on amount of work they left through the ages. On my webpage devoted to this program I quoted a few years ago the following:

History was not very kind to women in the past. They were destined to be wives and mothers, were kept away from education and culture by controlling fathers, brothers and husbands. Women were forbidden to write, compose, or paint and the only way for some to escape that path was to join a convent, however these often had many restrictions imposed by male superiors.

The lucky ones born to wealthy or artistic families were allowed to be creative, often only till they got married. Some of them could not escape the sad destiny of having their works claimed by men.  Many women did not sign their works or they used a male name. It has been suggested by many researchers that women are behind many anonymous works.

I think they did pretty well considering all the obstacles they faced and it is time for us men, to admit that we were responsible for those obstacles.

Of course, I did reference to the past, but if you turn on the radio and TV these days you wonder if we are going back in time and if the above comment will apply in the next 10 years. I hope it never comes to that.

Yes, I must admit that it is better for women now. Some have even gotten the recognition they deserve, but that is not enough.

There are not many places where one can learn about woman composers.  You definitely won’t learn much by attending most concerts or by listening to your typical classical radio station where most likely the average listener won’t be able to name 5 women composers.

I teach Music History for the Young Artist program at Westminster Conservatory and always make sure to include women composers in my presentations. I get a lot of pleasure seeing young women’s faces light up with pride on the news that we had women composers in all historical periods. You should have seen my surprise after asking if anyone knew who the first woman was who wrote a sonata and hearing the name Isabella Leonarda coming from the mouth of 16-year-old student. In fact, I wonder how many regular classical music listeners know who she was? Yes, my message is getting through.

Preparing for all of my programs of women composers reminded me about a rather disturbing Facebook incident, where I had been accused (not a long time ago) for patronizing women. Since I was devoting a whole Classical Discoveries program to music written by women I was sending a wrong message to a young impressionable women. (sic)

The whole incident started turn ugly and engaged many listeners and composers in my defense.  I tried not to get to involved with this, but eventually I had no choice but write the following statement to my attacker to stop her from continuing this farce.

I do consider myself as very sensitive guy, careful not to hurt someone feelings. I have never thought that calling a composer – a woman composer might hurt some. The English language does not give us flexibility like other languages to make that distinction. Is it really so bad to be called a woman composer?

I never thought in my life that a young impressionable woman would get the wrong message listening to only women composers on Classical Discoveries. I wonder why so many of them (young women) wrote to me over the years saying that I opened their eyes showing how many great women composers exist, and that they are very proud being women musicians or/and composers.

Someone does not need to patronize me by telling me that I might have good intentions. I do not.  I do the right thing by devoting whole programs to women composers even if one person does not like it.  As the creator of this program I have total artistic freedom how, what and when I present it. In my program, considering the limited time I have, I do the best to present unknown composers and that includes men also.

By the way I asked and never heard from you if it is ok for a woman radio host to devote a whole program to women composers. Guess what? Since you never answered, I am not interested to find this from you anymore. I would like to thank you in advance for bowing out and not continuing this farce. I would especially like to thank as well all of my (sometimes insulted) supporters. …I consider this subject closed, it seems that no one who responded agrees with your opinion, however, I promise you that I will respect any wish from any composer not to be played on my program.

At the end, the attacker claiming to be a musician, bowed out, and this is bizarre – she admitted to not having any idea what my program was about and admitted she never listened to it.

I do not expect any more problems like this and she is no more my Facebook friend. So far I have not received even one letter from a composer requesting that his/her music would not to be played on my program.

Persian Musician of Qajar Dynasty

So here we are on the brink of the 9th Annual  “In Praise of Woman” –  four weeks of nothing but music by women.

If you have not visited my website, here is the information:

The first two shows of the series will air Wednesday, March 07, 2012 at 5:30am and will be devoted to American Women composers. On March 14, Classical Discoveries will host live, in the WPRB studio, Cuban composer Tania León  and on March 21, English composer Roxanna Panufnik

and all that will happen on WPRB 103.3 FM Princeton NJ, or on the Internet at: http://www.wprb.com/listen.php

To find past playlists of the annual series and other programs devoted to music by women composers go to
In Praise of Woman page.

Please check the weekly posting for highlights and upcoming features at http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org

Also, this year you will be able to listen to archived programs for two weeks at: http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org/index_music

If you are on Facebok please join the Event at : https://www.facebook.com/events/361012613933524/

 

Winter’s Breath

A couple of weeks ago, on a beautiful snowy Sunday morning, I stumbled on a wonderful video posted in Facebook.  The author was  Sean O’Boyle, the Australian composer, living in New York. The soundtrack for the video was his own composition titled “Winter’s Breath”.

I wonder if he was thinking about the music while taking this video or the idea of pairing both came later?

Some of you might remember Sean as a composer of the “Concerto for Didgeridoo and Orchestra”, a work that I have presented several times on my program.

The pictures of those snowy scenes in New York combined with music gave me the idea to do a whole program of works devoted to winter, a season that never really came to us this year on the east coast, at least not yet.

As I am going through piles of CD’s of music depicting musically ice, snow, and the cold, I am imagining wonderful winter scenery and hope that some of you will be able to join and share with me this special voyage to the Winter Wonderland, just days before March and the real spring season begins.

Yes, winter is coming to Classical Discoveries this Wednesday from 5:30am till 1:00pm. Get out your warm gloves, scarfs, boots and get ready to be chilled and frozen on  WPRB 103.3FM or on-line at http://www.wprb.com/listen.php

If you miss the broadcast you will be able to listen on your computer for 2 weeks after the mp3 files are posted on my Classical Discoveries website.

The weather is so different from last year, when I remember driving to WPRB for my 24 Hour Hovhaness Marathon in a blizzard. A two-minute drive turned into a 40-minute struggle. I live close and could have actually walked to the station, but since I needed supplies for 24-hours of survival, I needed to go by car.

My evening’s special guest could not get a taxi for a 2-mile drive from his hotel to the studio.  That is how bad it was. After that, we had snow almost every Monday or Tuesday. I was actually very happy when spring arrived.

This season, after the late October snow we had only a few days of light snow, and can already see spring flowers popping up in my garden. I bet that many people with extreme weather this year would like to exchange places with us here in the Northeast.

March, as always, will be devoted to women composers, so this is my last chance to celebrate winter.  In addition, on Feb.29, to celebrate Alan Hovhaness’s 101st birthday, I will broadcast a live concert of his chamber music taped on January 8, 2012 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. If you are on Facebook, you can join the Event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/238468462904193/.  I will also present some selections from a just released CD of his choral works as performed by Gloriae Dei Cantores.

Enjoy the last few weeks of winter, or at least listen this Wednesday on WPRB.

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