AMPPR Board Members Talk About Radio

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?

EVERYONE: Yes!

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: Oh, was that one of the choral pieces done by the Ars Nova Vocal Ensemble? Their Cage disc is so great…

CHRIS KOHTZ: …And Stephen Drury‘s recording, the piano stuff, there’s really nice, beautiful stuff on there. The piece In a Landscape, it’s a beautiful Satie-esque little tune.

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.