AMPPR Board Members Talk About Radio

Mixing the Repertoire


AMPPR Board Members Talk About Radio
Interview Excerpt #4


BOYCE LANCASTER: Intellectual programming works to a degree, but the problem is if you don’t program with your ear, then… I mean, that’s the only way the audience is listening, most of them, anyway. Except for the guy that calls me up and complains if I don’t play the piece from which this piece was derived immediately before I play this piece. I got that call last week, because I didn’t play the Bach that Schoenberg used for his pieces. And, but what I’m finding is, and I’ve done a lot of theme shows, and sometimes a theme show works very nicely for me, depending, anniversaries, et cetera, I’m finding because of the nature of the morning where we have, we now have NPR headlines from 01 to 04, three times in the morning, and traffic starting at 6:20 and running ’til 9 o’clock every 10 minutes, so it’s really hard to work a lot of things in there. But what I’m finding is the variety really evokes phone calls. People call up, "I’ve never heard this. I like that. I pay attention to this." And they call in and they always ask about the things they don’t know, obviously. And we’re getting a lot of new recordings in. We’ve gotten some new women composers in of late, and the names escape me right now.

BEVERLEY ERVINE: I’m always looking for unusual and new recordings. You know, I don’t need another copy of Beethoven 5th, or whatever, unless there’s just something, you know, extraordinary about it. But, generally speaking, we do get calls from people who are excited about discovering Beethoven’s 5th for the first time, and then it’s wonderful when you hear that, because all of a sudden you kind of get re-interested and renewed yourself.

BOYCE LANCASTER: Revitalized, because you know that there’s somebody hearing Pachelbel‘s Canon for the first time ever.

BEVERLEY ERVINE: But on the other hand, you have your sophisticated audience out there who is still wanting those new challenges, and they’re wanting to experience new things, and so my goal is to find, you know, a nice variety of all styles and find a way to balance it all.

FRANK J. OTERI: But, I would dare say, that for somebody, you know, who isn’t familiar, say, with Pachelbel’s Canon or with Beethoven’s 5th, or with any pieces that we all know as masterpieces, they’ll be coming to that music with an equal footing with, say, In a Landscape by Cage, or, you know, a piece by Steve Reich or a piece by John Adams

CHRIS KOHTZ: Or Vasks.

FRANK J. OTERI: I love the music of Peteris Vasks! Discovering his music for the first time on equal footing with Beethoven is really interesting. You know, we’re dealing with a level playing field, by and large.

BOYCE LANCASTER: Right.

FRANK J. OTERI: We always bemoan the fact that there were these years when there wasn’t a lot of music education, and now, people don’t know who anybody is, but, you know, in a way we can do something good with this.

BOYCE LANCASTER: There’s so much radio out there and there are so many sources for music in this day and age, as opposed to the ’50′s, ’60′s, ’70′s, when your sources were limited. Now they get it everywhere and they get it in commercials, they get it in television, they get it all over the place. So it doesn’t frighten them anymore if they hear something that John Lennon wrote or George Harrison or Ravi Shankar or someone wrote next to something written in the 1700′s: it doesn’t scare them. Or even koto music and things of that nature… People call up if you tell them there’s a reason to be concerned about it. When I quit warning people that new music was coming, I quit getting negative phone calls about it.

ROBERT J. LURTSEMA: Every 3 months or so, I set one Saturday aside for a program of music and stories for kids. Morning Pro Musica is for kids always, but in this series I focus on stories and music for kids. I just finished doing one for May, coming up in May, and one of the pieces I scheduled is by Gubaidulina, her piece Musical Toys, a series of some 12 or 18 short piano pieces… That’s very contemporary, and the music is very contemporary. But I know it’s the kids who listen to this, the ones I’m after, ages 3 to 9, they’re still sponges. They’re still sopping up stuff that’s brand new, and nobody has told them what they’re supposed to like, or not like, so they’ll judge for themselves. And they’ll judge that, I think on the same program I have the Rossini Boutique Fantasque, and they’ll just, you know, one is equal to the other. And that’s really the way music should be judged.

CHRIS KOHTZ: You asked how much 20th Century music we play. Just in raw numbers, I was doing some analysis a while ago, if you just add up the raw numbers of pieces and go with the basic time periods, we play more 20th Century music than we do music from the Baroque.

BOYCE LANCASTER: I love playing the Finnish music that’s coming out now. There’s so much music coming out of Radio Nederlands, and those sources. Some of these new recordings, and sometimes, maybe for 6:30 in the morning, this symphony by somebody written in 1994 is really tough, but that 3 _ minute Scherzo from it is just perfect between a couple of other selections, so maybe you give somebody the incentive to do a little exploring, and so you can sneak something in and play something that you may otherwise need to be played in the evening, or in the early mornings. Early morning programming, as you have told us, is a unique animal. It’s a very different animal from other radio…