Friday, March 05, 2010

The CE Classical Challange - WHRO Responds

Dwight Davis, the program director for WHRO responded to my recent Classical Challenge posting about his station. I think his comments are worth a look. Here's what he had to say:

Thanks for the mostly positive review of our radio station, WHRO-FM. I do have a few comments, however. I tell the staff that we're striving for listenability, whatever else may characterize the music. What matter if the composer is dead, female or blue-eyed? As to the educational component, we educate every time an entry-level listeners hears Vivaldi and decides to stay around. We don't educate by offering the Bartok quartets, as important as they are, because they'd be no listeners to educate. We do, by the way, broadcast concerts by the Virginia Chorale, the Virginia Opera and the Virginia Symphony. Finally, WHRO-FM operates another full-time classical station that addresses some of the concerns of your article. Connoisseur Classics is available on-line at

Below are some highlights of recent programming:

Sunday 2/28/10 – Peter Cornelius’s Stabat Mater; duo-organists Bartelink and Kramer in Boellmann’s Suite Gothique; Carlo Maria Giulini conducts the Beethoven Mass in C; Johann Rolle’s Der Tod Abel; the Missa Brevis of William Mathias

Wed 3/3/10 – SYMPHONIC – William Walton’s Viola Concerto and Symphony No. 2; Eduard Tubin’s Ballad for Violin and Orchestra; Szymanowski’s ballet Harnasie; E.J. Moeran’s Cello Concerto; Mahler’s 7th with Rattle and the Concertgebouw in concert

Thurs 3/4/10 – The British Grenadier Guards; the Sellers Engineering Band plays Redhead’s A Pastoral Symphony and James Curnow’s Legend in Brass; Stanley Drucker plays Leonard Bernstein’s Clarinet Sonata; Julius Rudel conducts the Amadeus Winds in an arrangement of music from Beethoven’s Fidelio

Fri 3/5/10 HISTORICAL – Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic in Beethoven’s 5th and 7th symphonies; Leopold Wlach plays Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto; Eileen Joyce performs the Piano Concerto by John Ireland; Beecham and the LPO in a suite from Bizet’s Carmen; Sir Adrian Boult and the Concertgebouw in Elgar’s Enigma Variations

Saturday 3/6/10 GRAB BAG – Film scores to “Elizabeth,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro;” “Jefferson in Paris;” “The Lion in Winter;” “Mary, Queen of Scots;” and “Braveheart” plus Ezra Laderman’s Piano Sonata 3 and Harold Banter’s Fairy Tale Pictures

Sunday 3/7/10 – American Boychoir Songfest; Rogier’s Missa Ego Sum Qui Sum; Bruno Weil conducts Schuebrt’s Mass in A-flat; Josepf Flummerfelt and the Westminster Choir in Barber’s Agnus Dei and Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden

Monday 3/8/10 CHAMBER – Martin Jones plays Turina’s Variations on a Theme of Chopin; Gorecki’s String Quartet 3; the Amadea Ensemble in Herzogenberg’s Quintet in E-flat; Shura Cherkassky in Chopin’s Variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’

Monday 3/1/10 CHAMBER – More Haydn piano trios with the Beaux Arts Trio; Schubert’s String Quartet 15; the Prague Quartet plays Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 1; music from the 2008 Library of Congress concerts

Tuesday 3/2/10 OPERA – Pierre Boulez conducts Debussy’s Pelleas and Melisande; Norman Triegle is featured in Boito’s Mefistofele with Julius Rudel conducting; Adolphe Adam’s Le Toreador; John Eliot Gardiner conducts Handel’s Jeptha; Carl Loewe’s The Three Wishes; Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito with Sir Colin Davis conducting

Keep up the good work.

Dwight Davis
Program Director

As you can see, online WHRO is the bomb. (BTW - I couldn't get the link to work, but if you go to WHRO's website, you'll see a link on the left that will open a window for the Connoisseur Classic service.)

And they have an interesting strategy: let the on air signal be the entry-level classical programming, and let those that want to dig deeper go to one of their more specialized online streams. It makes a great deal of sense.

I agree with Mr. Davis: there shouldn't be any kind of quota for women composers, or living composers, or any of the other categories I've been measuring. But there's one point I still want to make.

I think there's a lot of music being written today that is very much listener-friendly, even to novices. And wouldn't it be nice if entry-level classical music listeners got the message that there's tuneful, appealing, moving works being written by folks just like them (at least age-wise)?

What do you think?

(I think I'm tuning in to Connossier Classics).

- Ralph

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