Viva 21st Century Music

In late November of 2003, when I piled up CD’s for my WPRB winter break specials, the idea of a new program with music from the 21st century started to take shape. I did not have many new music recordings for my first program, but managed to mix the ones I had with some of my favorite earlier selections.

Flute - Courtesy: Azerbaijani Artist Namig Mammadov at: AZgallery.org

The end of the 20th century was very disappointing to me for various reasons. At that time I stopped listening to classical radio and going to live concerts with a few exceptions. Heavily advertised musical tributes to 20th century music presented mainly 80-90 year old warhorses. There is so much more to music of that period.

How I dreamed to hear  performances of symphonies by Henry Cowell, Harrison, Hovhaness and other American composers, live in the Academy of Music with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Not even one of them was represented in those tributes, nor as I recall any woman composer. It was like the clock stopped  after the 1st half of the 20th century.

My second program was 100 percent devoted to new music, but I had never imagined that 9 years later I would be able to present a continuous 24-hour program of 21st century music. I actually could do at least 4-5 more marathons, judging from the piles I am looking at right now.  I will take a rain check on those however!

Marathons?  It is all Jon’s fault. I am referring to Jon Solomon – WPRB legend, and veteran of the Christmas Marathons, of which this year will be his 24th.

When in 2007 I realized that my 5 plus hours would not let me present all of what I wanted, I looked  to Jon for inspiration and decided to give it a try. Here I am 4 years later getting ready for my 5th Winter Marathon joining the ranks of radio broadcaster junkies.

I must admit, that all suggestions on how to survive 24 hours on the air I received from Jon.  One more thing I do is that I treat myself to acupuncture a few hours before the Marathon. The hardest thing for me is to keep off bread for 24 hours!!  I love a good loaf of sour dough!!!

If you are curious, I never nap during the time I am on the air so, if anyone wants to call me when the music is playing please do so at 609-258-1033. I will need the support of my audience and friends, especially during late at night and the early morning hours when I will be totally alone. Also, if you are in the neighborhood, please visit me. The more action in the studio I have, the easier it will be for me to survive the 24 hours of madness.

This 9th Annual program is the 5th, 24-Hour Marathon totally devoted to new music composed in the 21st century. It will start on:

Monday, December 26, 2011 at 1:00pm and will end: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 at 1:00pm

 

In a few days you will find some featured composers listed on the home page of the Classical Discoveries website at: http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org/  and on the Facebook Event Page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/124098904372882/

VIVA 21ST CENTURY – INTERNATIONAL EDITION  – 24-HOUR LIVE WPRB RADIO BROADCAST

The program will air on WPRB 103.3 FM Princeton and on the Internet around the world at:
http://www.wprb.com/listen.php
http://listen.wprb.com/pls
http://listen.wprb.com/ram
http://listen.wprb.com/asx

For Internet listeners link to excellent Time Zone Converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/cgi-bin/tzc.tzc

Other 24-hour new music Marathons

12-27/28-2009 – 24-hour Marathon – WOMEN COMPOSERS EDITION
09-08/09-2009 – 24-hour Marathon – AMERICAN EDITION
12-26/27-2008 – 24-hour Marathon – INTERNATIONAL EDITION
12-27/28-2007 – 24-hour Marathon – INTERNATIONAL EDITION

I hope that you can catch at least part of the WPRB Marathon madness.

Viva 21st Century, Viva New Music, and Viva Living Composers!!!

 

 

Composers Andrew Rudin and Robert Moran on Classical Discoveries

I conduct most live interviews when I have extra air time in the summer, but could not miss this opportunities to have two local composers popping to WPRB studio for very informal relaxing chats.

Andrew Rudin from Allentown, New Jersey will be my guest this Wednesday,  May 4 and Robert Moran from Philadelphia on May 11.

Listeners of Classical Discoveries know both of them from prior visits. Robert  Moran is an old veteran and was a guest for the first time long before my website began. Gosh, it feels like centuries ago.

Left picture: from left Marvin Rosen and Andrew Rudin in Princeton, August, 2010

Right Picture: Marvin Rosen and Robert Moran in Philadelphia, May, 2009

Andrew Rudin has two new releases of his music available, one on Innova and one on Centaur.  We will talk about these, his association with orchestra 2001 and more.

Robert Moran has just come back from Scotland where he witnessed the world premiere of his ballet Alice.  I just wish that this ballet would come to the States. I did see some great clips on Vimeo.  In recent years he has had releases of his music on the Innova label.  We will be talking about these recordings as well as the upcoming premiere of the 9/11 Oratorio for children’s choir and of course, predicaments of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Robert’s personal feelings about his cities orchestra.

For more details about both of these guests, please check my website Classical Discoveries  the day before the broadcasts.

Both guests are delightful and are fun to work with.

http://vimeo.com/22342345

Why must we categorize music?

I do not like dividing music into categories.  I do not even like the term classical music.  Music is music and good music is good music!

Through the centuries in every part of the world music was created for religious, spiritual, and personal needs and most importantly for fun, joy and entertainment.  Music is a magical International language, which can be understood by all.  We should try to understand and embrace music from every source and culture. Our Western European classical music is only a small part of that equation.  India has classical music too, as well  many other countries.

We can find much similarity between past and present. Michael Praetorius was a Rock and Roller of his time. Magic Flute was a Broadway Musical. Chopin and Bartok were inspired by folk music and Gregorian Chant could be considered New Age music. There is a great similarity between Bach’s music and jazz, etc.  So, why do we have a problem with the music of our time?

Unfortunately, classical music (in its traditional form) has become music for a small aging élite, with no connection to a wider audience.   This is not what composers would want.

Since music education in the schools is generally almost non-existent it has become very difficult inspire a younger audience to listen to the traditional masterworks of the great composers such as Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, etc.  Even students who study music privately generally only know the repertoire they are learning on their instrument.  How sad!

I feel that the music of our time is music that young people can relate to and can close the gap between various groups that are intimidated by classical music.   With our increasing population we should have more listeners enjoying the music of our time on the radio and concert halls.  The students in my Music History classes are exposed regularly to new music and they love it.  Many old forms that are found centuries ago can be found in today’s recent music.  In teaching the Concerto Grosso in my Baroque History classes for example I always find it valuable to see how the form is used in the music of our time as well.  After listening to a Concerto Grosso of Corelli, why not listen to a Concerto Grosso of Schnittke for example?  We need to make the experience of Classical music relevant to the experience of our younger students.

It is indeed very sad but many classical stations and orchestras have closed their door forever in recent years. I am really not interested to quote any numbers because this is not important. The fact is that they are closing.

Meanwhile booming New Music scenes in a few big cities around the USA are proving that new music attracts younger people.  Unfortunately all of this excitement is confined to a few cities and to a selected group of people.  We are also lucky now that we have many excellent new music Internet radio programs and stations, but they are confined to the Internet and technologically oriented listeners. This takes out of circulation a whole group of people and sentences them to listening to the warhorses and Muzak.

A sad excuse for continuing stale programming for classical radio is saying that according to the polls: “this is what listeners want.”

From my personal experience, the pollsters are professional statisticians, and often they do not know what questions to ask.  They also tend to bend questions to fit needs and expectation.  They should stick to calculating how many pair of shoes one person can produce in one hour, not how many Mozart’s you should listen to at breakfast and within 12 hours and how many Brahms pieces you should listen to at dinnertime.

How do listeners know what they want if they never heard anything else except what is played on their radio station?  This is like saying “I love bananas (Mozart) and strawberry (Schubert) for breakfast but I hate pomegranates and kiwis (new unknown music).” Did you ever try any out? “No, I never tasted them because they are too exotic for me.”

I get mad when I hear people saying that obscure music is obscure for a reason. Yes there is a reason, but not always because the music is bad. It is because no one takes the time to listen. Why take time? Let us play something that was tested 100 times at 100 stations each day.

Even a professional musician like myself, gets tired of listening to same old stuff and wants change. In fact, I do not attend concerts that have just standard repertoire. I rather listen to one of my CD’s.  Most radio programs are so predictable that it does not make any difference to me which station I tune to. To put it mildly, they are boring!!!  So many stations lack vision and do not look to the future. How sad!!!!

A few years ago I had the opportunity to meet my radio hero, Jim Nettleton who was a rock and roll DJ and had a 50-year career.

He inspired me for many years, and was an incredibly personable man.  I met him few times before his early death of lung cancer at the age of only 69.  I felt I knew him for many years just after talking to him for just 1 minute at our first meeting.  I always think about him before beginning my radio show.  Of course we talked a great deal about radio and he said something that will always stay with me.  Hi said; “Unpredictability is entertainment.” How true this is in everything we do!!!

Please do not take me wrong. I still do love and have respect for Beethoven, Brahms, and countless others, and I remember growing up and being excited about so many works, but I am tired of listening to same works  over and over again.

I do not advocate not playing those composers. I just feel that we should have a good balance of all periods with a major focus on new music from the end of the 20th and the 21st century.  I would rather spend my energy on exposing living composers and little known music of other periods.

We are the only society that lives in the past and considers works written 80 years ago as a new 20th century work. Yes, it was a new work 80 years ago and guess what, it was most likely performed then. The time line for new music froze in 1943, when Rachmaninoff died.

Unfortunately, this applies not only to radio and the concert halls, but also to many institutions teaching future musicians. Just this last statement would take up a whole new blog.  Each century cherished it’s new music and older music was confined to libraries.

I chuckle when I try to imagine how music would develop if our ancestors in earlier centuries would treat new music like we do now. Composers would have to find other jobs, like cleaning barns full of cow manure, working as smiths, or working as horse carriage drivers.  Who would need new music if only Gregorian chants would be required in churches and at official ceremonies at the times of Bach and Handel.  For fun, everyone would dance to the tunes of the pilgrim songs from the “Llibre Vermell de Montserrat”. Hmm, Bach in Gregorian mode? Can you imagine Bach’s Gregorian St John Passion and what about a Gregorian Coronation Mass and a Gregorian Messiah?

It might be funny to imagine, but I am very sad………Do to the variety of music being written today, there is music for everyone from literally all over the world.  I feel  that because of this we are living in one of music’s most exciting times.  Unfortunately, most people who are in the position to help spread the word don’t do so.It is time that we give more support to all of our living composers from all over the world and New Music!!!!

More about me

About me – continues

So what is so special about the radio and me?

I do not know? Maybe the fact that after 14 years I am still passionate about what I do. Luckily my wonderful wife, Beata, supports what I do. On our first date instead of ordering dinner we talked about Hovhaness, Penderecki, Bacewicz and the Górecki Third Symphony, which was little known here in the west then. I think I impressed her with my knowledge of Polish music!! I remember she also loved the way I played Chopin! I think I melted her heart at the time since she is very fussy about the interpretation of Chopin!

You must be thinking that I am crazy to do all this work as a volunteer. I am crazy and enjoy every moment of it.  I am also excited that I am in the position to share all the obscure works I air with my listening audience.

From the beginning, whether it was early or new music, I always wanted the listening audience to hear something that other radio stations were not playing.

Yes, I am very lucky that my radio station does not impose any guidelines and programming restrictions, otherwise it would not be possible to develop my program the way it is, and prove to the world that listeners are ready for change.

So far, I have broken every rule governing traditional classical music programming with the exception (to the point), of the more difficult modern music, which I never program during drive time but after 11:00am.

And yes, some might think that I do have rather unorthodox ideas regarding classical programming, but every one of my programs is well thought out and unique and has to my knowledge never offended anyone.

Oh no, I lied, on my first WPRB program I played the Rossini Cat Duet without announcing it and some lady called, yelling at me. She told me that everyone at WPRB was off the deep end or something to that effect.  I politely thanked her for her call, with the wild satisfaction of waiting to announce the composer. I would have loved to see her face at that moment. I also had a listener that I considered to be a stalker. He called me often and criticized my work all the time. I was wondering why he was listening, but now after all this time I actually might know why.

I always want to prove to the world that there is so much wonderful new music fitting every discriminating taste in our century. To illustrate this I presented my 1st annual program devoted to music of 21st century on January 1, 2003.

In addition, I have presented 4, 24 hour Marathons of new music. I have presented hundreds of $0 budget special programs focusing on various countries and regions as well as variety of programs on different subjects. I have presented programs on Young Composers (age 30 and below) and women composers. I have had over 60 guests, presented many Voyages Around The World and early music specials, etc.  All of these are posted on my website, where I have a page which lists all the special programs.

In addition to the programs I have created already, my head is still full of ideas about programs that I never will be able to share due to the lack of time. With all the new music coming from all over the world something must give.

 

I have presented many world and American première broadcasts. My listeners have known Peteris Vasks and Paweł Łukaszewski long before they hit the NY radio waves and yes, Grażyna Bacewicz was on my first program 14 years ago.

I do not believe in occasional tokens in between the warhorses. I do not believe that you only can play certain types of music during drive time (no choral music) etc.

My listeners come from all social and age groups from college professors to tractor-trailer drivers. I am always trying to prove that there is music for everyone!

I have found out that once a listener develops trust in you, they would be willing to give anything a chance. My listeners have told me that because of my program they now attend concerts of new music.  With today’s CD prices, no one will buy music that they never heard before.

I know for a fact that many listeners have purchased CDs they have heard on my program and composers have gotten commissions for new works, after someone heard their music on my show.Yes, this is music to my ears.

I do not claim that every work written today is good. I do not claim that the music I present is or will be considered a masterpiece in the future.

Based on the past experience it would be arrogant of me to do that.

The music that I share with my listeners must have some value for me and bring me joy. I must like it or find it interesting.

Only the future will tell if the various works I play from the end of the 20th or 21st centuries will someday be considered great, stipulating that we have a 22nd century and our planet survives mistreatment, abuse and rape.

 

 

 

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