Sunday, September 12, 2010
As our month-long ViolinFest proceeds on WQXR, I’ve been reading about the violin, and talking with some violinists and other violin experts. Curiously for me, though, learning about the violin has not made me interested in the slightest in learning to play the thing. I say “curiously” because usually when I study something, I feel an urge, however small, to experience it. But for some reason, the violin hasn’t grabbed me in the least. It looks not only difficult to learn, but uncomfortable, too. I love listening to it, and deeply admire the people who study it, play it expertly, and understand it. But it’s not for me.
If I were to study a string instrument, it would be the cello. There’s something about its tone quality, its warmth, and the intimacy of holding it in an embrace – as opposed to tucking the violin under the chin, as if it were napkin – that draws me to it. There’s nothing rational about any of this, of course. Speaking of irrational, I also have long had a desire to play the accordion. I love the sweet rusticity of the French bal-musette sound. But the accordion instead of the violin – what’s wrong with me? Please don’t answer that, but do answer this: What musical instrument have you always wanted to play, and why? If you’ve fulfilled your ambition, what was it like to meet the object of your musical desire?
Friday, September 10, 2010
On September 11, 2001, I was home and glued to my TV set, like everybody else. My two main gigs that year were hosting Breakfast With The Arts on A&E and being one of the voice-over guys on CNN. I was not scheduled to shoot for A&E, but I was expected to work for CNN. As the day unfolded it was clear I was not going to get into Manhattan since the bridges were closed. But at that time, I had all the technology I needed to voice for CNN from home. ISDN Lines, still used today, are basically broadcast-quality telephone lines. So late in the afternoon, I was emailed my script and I voiced my pieces. A clip from the night of the attacks is on my web site.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Erich Kunzel, long-time conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, died a year ago, at the age of 74. Kunzel wasn’t just Cincinnati’s conductor -- for nearly two decades, he led the National Symphony Orchestra in A Capitol Fourth and Memorial Day concerts on the lawn of the Capitol Building that were broadcast around the country on PBS.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
My turntable broke about 15 years ago. It was around the time of the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company. I went to see the show and came home eager to put on my original cast album to ‘compare’. The turntable died in the middle of the title song.
Monday, August 30, 2010
This is the last week of the traditional vacation season. I love the terms associated with vacation. To “vacate” means to “get out.” “Relax” means to “loosen.” We also “take a break,” have “time off,” and “get away.” In all of those words or phrases is the idea of relief from everyday routine, and there are myriad ways to escape quotidian matters.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Leonard Bernstein was a man of supreme charisma and fantastic talent. A conductor, composer and educator, Bernstein was an undying advocate for composers, new works, new ideas, and the concept of music as a living art in the modern world. For all of these reasons, Bernstein seems a sort of spiritual antecedent to Q2.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
We at WQXR are putting together a very special CD. The theme is New York. So if you live in New York, used to live in New York, wish to live in New York or have heard of New York – we want to know what classical music you’d want on such a recording -- and why?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
An acquaintance recently said to me, "Terrance, I think you might be too square for her" (referring to a friend of hers). That comment got me thinking about the degree to which one's personality is shaped by vocation.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I hadn’t even read the ecstatic New York Times review of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Mostly Mozart Festival performance of L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato yet when I called my Mom, and said I would cheerfully go right back and see it again. Sitting in the theater, I was thrilled by the imaginative choreography and luminous dancing, and also by the fact that it was all “accompanied” by a topnotch, live performance of a piece by Handel.
Friday, August 06, 2010
Although I work in the non-visual medium of radio, by training I'm a visual artist. I graduated from art school, and worked for ten years as a graphic designer and illustrator before moving to radio via my lifelong love of music. I think that radio actually is a visual medium, it's just that the associated images are conjured in the imagination of the listener, rather than on paper or on canvas.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
I have to confess that I didn't spend too much time following the story of Chelsea Clinton's wedding. However, yesterday I found myself surfing the Web looking for news of any music that was played during the ceremony. There was no mention that I could find.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Greetings from hot and sticky Rome, where--in stark contrast to equally hot and sticky New York City--air conditioning is deemed bad for the human organism and therefore largely avoided. But the thick air gives the city a slow pace, so there is time now to reflect and report on what turned out to be a very busy spring of music-making.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
There are lots of ways to cope with this hot July, ranging from going into the shade out of the direct sun, to going to Australia, which is so out of the direct sun that it's winter. There isn't much that we can do over the radio to cool your body, but maybe we can offer the illusion of a cooler atmosphere through music.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Participating composer and performer Matthew Whittall reviews the second half of Finland's premier contemporary music festival, Time of Music, a program peppered with names such as Marco Stroppa, Markus Trunk, Kaija Saariaho, Michael Jarrell, Joji Yuasa and Karlheinz Stockhausen. For those of you who haven't read the first installment of our Time of Music coverage, Matthew Whittall is a freelance composer, teacher, and music writer based in Helsinki, Finland.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This week, I attended the third Naumburg Orchestral Concert of the summer season in Central Park. And, it made me start to wonder...
Friday, July 23, 2010
Finland is home to the longest-running festival of contemporary music in Scandinavia, Time of Music. Participating composer, performer and program writer, Matthew Whittall reviews the week of performances on-site, right from the lake country town of Viitasaari. Originally a Canadian, Whittall studied composition and performance in the states, but he now resides in Helsinki, where he is a composer, teacher, and music writer.