Alex Ambrose is the senior producer for Q2 Music, WQXR’s online station and website devoted to discovery, curiosity and vibrant 21st-century music.
The Ambiguity of Excerpting
A Programming Dilemma
Monday, August 29, 2011
As we take all the generous musical suggestions you've provided and strive to channel them into a cohesive, fluid stream of music for the 9/11 weekend, we acknowledge a complicated, but inevitable, decision. We have an idea how to proceed; however, we want to hear your thoughts as to the most appropriate, respectful course of action.
Every day, as programmers for Q2, we're forced to make uneasy decisions when it comes to excerpting pieces. From epic oratorios to multiple CD song cycles, we take the integrity of a composer's vision, no matter how ambitious in length, seriously — and ideally, we wouldn’t interfere. At the same time, we work within our understanding of the realities of the medium: internet radio. We know that not every vibrant, innovative piece (or passage therein) is radio-friendly; that, over the course of one piece, musical texture can shift dramatically; that listener time is precious.
Normally, we side in favor of keeping the piece intact. On the other hand, The Requiem Project presents an exception. Here the emphasis could be not as much on the individual pieces themselves, but on the quiet communion that exists when the specifics of tradition, nationality, era and religion co-mingle and overlap. Seen from afar, you'd have an almost pointillistic array of voices that address mourning and consolation.
This leads us to our dilemma: to excerpt or not to excerpt. Is it better to play the whole piece, even if more rarely, than to excerpt a portion, where it will get more overall spins?