Broadcasting Contemporary Music
AMPPR Board Members Talk About Radio
Interview Excerpt #3
FRANK J. OTERI: Has an American composer, a living American composer’s music been featured on your station this week?
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: Absolutely.
FRANK J. OTERI: That’s very good to hear.
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: Every week.
FRANK J. OTERI: How much contemporary music gets played on your station?
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: Not enough.
FRANK J. OTERI: Why isn’t there more? Why can’t there be more?
CHRIS KOHTZ: Could I ask to be more specific? Because this comes up year after year, and we say contemporary music, and contemporary music – do you mean music by living composers?
FRANK J. OTERI: Yes.
CHRIS KOHTZ: 20th Century music?
FRANK J. OTERI: Well, now we can’t really say 20th century anymore, can we?
DEANNE POULOS: 21st century music…
FRANK J. OTERI: How about this? Music written by someone living or by someone who was alive during your lifetime or the lifetime of someone you know who’s older than you… I compiled this list a couple of years ago… [someone waves “The Century List” at him] Oh my God, there it is. I divided contemporary music into live Americans, dead Americans, live foreigners, and dead foreigners. [Everyone laughs.]
BOYCE LANCASTER: Pretty well covers the whole thing.
FRANK J. OTERI: Yeah. The idea was that all of the music was by someone whom you or someone in your life could have known.
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: I play a lot of it, and I mix it in as much as I possibly can. I’ve started programs off with John Cage. At 7 o’clock in the morning.
BOYCE LANCASTER: Four and a half minutes of dead air? [Everyone laughs.]
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: Actually, I’ve been practicing that and I’ve got it down to 2 minutes. [Everyone laughs.] I skip the repeats.
CHRIS KOHTZ: It shows my ignorance, but we actually have a recording in our library of 4’33″ and I’ve never looked into it to see who, what, when, where, why, and I know that in John Cage’s aesthetic, there’s a reason for that, but still, I just have to laugh when I look at the recording of that.
FRANK J. OTERI: Well, if it’s a live recording, you get the audience sound.
CHRIS KOHTZ: Even if it’s not a live recording, there’s ambience, there’s everything else.
LOIS REITZES: How do you fit John Cage into early music? I thought you played Renaissance music…
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: I had on a piece of music by John Cage which was very quiet and pleasant.
FRANK J. OTERI: And some of those Number Pieces are just heavenly…
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: I try to mix as much as I can. I stick with music in the early hours that is of an early type, but not necessarily “early.”
LOIS REITZES: I see. So it doesn’t have to be confined to a particular century.
BOYCE LANCASTER: …It can have that flavor…
CHRIS KOHTZ: …very much the sound of the piece…
ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: Arvo Pärt is a good example.