Sunday, August 19, 2007

I like novelty

One of the great benefits of working at a radio station - even a college radio station - is access to its library. Ours is perhaps the best of any college radio station, and likely beats out a number of commercial classical stations. As an exercise today, I thumbed through the Harvard Dictionary of Music and in a short time had found a handful of composers whose works I knew from my work here at the station, but who were unfairly neglected in the dictionary.

I maintain that the greatest benefit of working here is our strict programming requirment, a programming strikingly different than anything I've come across anywhere: variety. Granted, this probably displeases more people than it entices: I don't expect the audience excited by Berwald's Sinfonie Singuliere to be similarly entranced by Babbit's Sextets (for violin and piano); but it does force those of us programming or broadcasting to at least be familiar with both.

I sit, now, in the station, listening to our broadcast of Willhelm Stenhammar's first Piano Concerto, and know that when I'd first joined - not more than 17 months ago - I'd never have found any pleasure in this piece. Not because I'd've genuinely disliked it, but because I couldn't've admitted to myself that I did. I was a chamber music guy, and a modern music guy, and everything else I had to deem trivial and old-fashioned and boring.

This is the problem with such a large proportion of CM audiences : There's no sense of adventure, of exploration. People stick to what they know and pooh-pooh everything else, partly to justify their musical tastes, and partly to avoid exploring other areas. This is why I love our audience so much. Above all, they're music fans who haven't locked themselves into one particular period, or genre. And that, ultimately, is what our members strive to be.

Our programming is of the highest benefit to our members because, within a few brief years, it forcibly develops even the most narrow of musical tastes into a profound interest in all serious music, and a wealth of knowledge to back it up. I hope that at least some of our listeners have shared this kind of development.

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