Posts Tagged ‘VPR Classical’

happy 60th, marlboro!

August 13, 2011

the famous "CAUTION" sign at marlboro

There was a lot of talk about it among my colleagues from other stations over the last year: the Marlboro Music Festival is turning 60! What are we going to do?

Of course we all wanted to ‘help’ celebrate the prestigious Festival’s anniversary, but we soon acknowledged there was a bigger issue here. What does that really mean to radio folks, for a Festival that is completely self-sufficient, tremendously successful, and not in the least dependent on media for our help with publicity?

The Marlboro legend was established in 1951, rooted in the deep musicianship of a core group of recent European émigrés: pianist Rudolf Serkin and co-founders Adolf Busch, Hermann Busch and Marcel, Blanche and Louis Moyse. Its  fine reputation has been sustained the same way; through the dedication and consistent excellence of the musicians who play there. Its sole focus is creating the best possible supportive creative experience for the musicians. A popular Marlboro phrase is, “It’s about the music.”

So how could we media outsiders possibly hope to participate in some way in the famously sequestered Festival’s 60th anniversary plans?

Pretty easily, it turns out.

It began with a phone call, then an email – and then a lot of phone calls and emails as I worked to start up a relationship with folks at the Festival. To my delight they were very receptive to the idea of establishing a partnership and cooking up some kind of celebration for their special season. I purchased and sent them a 120 gig hard drive; they returned it filled with music performances from the last dozen seasons. Fantastic. Then my two fellow classical hosts and I planned our “Marlboro Month” celebration, mirroring the Festival’s performance season from July 16th  through August 14th. And I worked with the station’s online team (thanks Tim, Dan and Jonathan!) to create a special page and make a nice selection of performances available for online listening.

A highlight of the summer came with a visit to the Festival on Sunday, July 24th. It was a hot, sunny afternoon and the wooden beams of Persons Auditorium resonated with the sounds of Ravel, Brahms, and Shostakovich. At one moment during the Brahms (the monumental g minor Piano Quintet) a mocking bird outside the auditorium in a nearby tree could be heard echoing a rhythmic figure in the first movement of the piece. It’s just that kind of place.

One of my VPR Classical co-workers stayed over that night and returned to the Festival the next day to record interviews with many of the performers who were there at the time. I’ve been spending time over the last couple of weeks editing those interviews into clips we’ve been airing with our daily Marlboro Month selections. And those clips are now archived online on the “Marlboro Conversations” page. (I have around 1/4 of the interviews edited now – check back for more conversations to be added to the page later!)

Tomorrow marks the final performance of the 60th anniversary season. Around 4pmET the final chords of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (the traditional closing piece) will resound on the Marlboro campus and another summer of practice, comraderie, partnership, sharing and learning will come to an end for the year’s talented participants.

In the words of veteran violinist Bella Hristova (now concluding her third and final year at Marlboro), “…I think this place is like home for a lot of people because we’re just here for so long, without a break, in the middle of nowhere. So it becomes like a family.”

I’m working on producing a video now that will incorporate the photos, some video footage and many of the Marlboro voices we recorded this summer. It’ll be done soon. Update coming soon here.

Further reading:

Alex Ross’ Marlboro tribute from his blog, The Rest is Noise

NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog: New recordings from Marlboro

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heard it on the radio

July 19, 2011

Yellow Barn Music Festival (photo by Corey Hendrickson for the Boston Globe)

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the great pleasure of working with colleagues over at WGBH in  Boston.  Their new New England Summer Festival series began on June 4th with a program on Vermont’s Marlboro Music Festival, now celebrating its 60th year.

The idea behind the series is to get a personally guided audio tour and some insight into some of the great seasonal music festivals in the region: Rockport, Monadnock, Cape Cod, Newport…there aren’t enough weeks in the year for all of the possible destinations!

This past weekend with a little description and a fair amount of  musical imagination I hosted a program that brought listeners to the Yellow Barn School and Festival in Putney, VT. It’s been an institution in the region since the 1960s, since cellist and Manhattan School of Music professor David Wells opened his home as a summer retreat for his students. Cellist Seth Knopp has since succeeded Wells in the role of Artistic Director, and is renowned as much for his own playing as his adventurous programming, and devotion to the Festival’s youth programs.

I don’t want to give too much away. You can listen to the program online here, and we’ll also be broadcasting it on VPR Classical the evening of July 27th at 8pm EDT. I hope you enjoy listening to the program at least as much as I did working on it. Big thanks to Alan McLellan and Ben Roe and the folks at GBH for the chance to share a bit of Vermont at its musical best, with the rest of the world.

the classics

June 8, 2010

Brief departure from our week together at  the Discover Jazz Festival here, to mention another notable cultural happening in our midst today.

This morning I was joined by around a hundred audience members, fellow VPR staff, and pianist Annemieke Spoelstra for a live performance/celebration at the Mahaney Center for the Arts, Middlebury College. The exciting occasion was the launch of Vermont Public Radio’s newest radio station in the growing regional classical music network.

I interviewed at VPR, coincidentally, the very day that VPR Classical went on the air – July 20th, 2004. At that time the entire classical “network” consisted of one radio station: WNCH, 88.1FM broadcasting from Norwich, Vermont (just across the Connecticut River from Dartmouth College in Hanover). Two weeks after that interview I was asked to move to Vermont and join the team. It seemed like it was meant to be.

Nearly six years later, as of today, the VPR Classical network is made up of five full-power radio stations and nine translators. The expansion of the network will continue this summer as another full-power station, WVXR (102.1FM) goes on the air to serve Randolph, Orange County, and the southern areas of Central Vermont. After that – yes, there are more hopes and plans but who knows what will actually come together?

One of the things that still makes my job rewarding every day is the talented, creative, and inspiring people I get to meet and work with in one way or another. Being surrounded by energy like that keeps me motivated to do the best job I can.

This morning as I sat on the stage, listening to pianist Annemieke Spoelstra play beautifully from a selection of Schumann and Chopin works, I glanced over at the sound board and saw friends, and then I looked out at the audience and saw even more friends and supporters of classical music. It takes a lot of hard work to put on a live performance, and this one had the added layer of being a live broadcast performance.

Big thanks to everyone who made it happen, and to all of the listeners whose support brought WOXM 90.1 to Addison County today!


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