Posts Tagged ‘WGBH’

inspired by downton

February 25, 2012

I have not had a TV in a dozen years.

In 1998 when life (employment) offered me the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, I took it. Never especially had a desire to go to LA,  much less set up a home there – but it was the right thing at the time and before long I happily found I didn’t actually have to live in LA (proper) to work there. I rented a small house in Burbank, around 17 miles northeast of downtown. In those pre-satellite TV days, it was a real bonus that the house came with free cable TV access.

But then the choice came, a year later when I bought a house in another area of Burbank: cable, or no cable? Even knowing that Burbank’s hilly terrain meant that NOT buying Adelphia’s service meant not having TV at all…right there, in the TV capital of the world. ABC, NBC, CBS, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, you name it…just down the street from the house, but not something I’d be able to enjoy without cable service.

I soon discovered that the only option for a cable provider in that area was Adelphia: at $75/month for basic service, which included no premium channels and not even high-speed internet (still a new thing at that time) wrapped in the deal. It would have been  $75/month for the privilege of access to ONLY the usual handful of mundane basic channels. In other words, Adelphia’s “service” was a total racket. Having arrived at the only plausible conclusion that they were crooks, I then opted for having no TV. (N0t familiar with Adelphia? Here’s why: in 2002 they went bankrupt due to…corruption. Surprise! Yeah, not really. They were crooks.)

A dozen years later I have wondered occasionally what I’ve missed. And now, working at a joint licensee TV/radio station, it’s becoming apparent that the answer is more than the annual Superbowl half-time commercials blowout, the occasional  conversation-worthy movie, or the new season of Mad Men. Every day I work with people who are involved with the TV half of our organization, but without a TV I have limited context for their conversations and the very things they do each day in their jobs.

The recent Downton Abbey  phenomenon has also made me feel some tug to get back with it and start keeping up with the latest intrigues of Lord Grantham’s world. If you think it’s big out there in the world, try working at the station that distributes it here in the US! Everyone I work with seems to watch it. Of course “Netflix it!” has been frequently offered as a solution, but there’s a certain timeliness lost in that process. Online viewing is also not an option right now – I’m sure my Comcast connection isn’t up to the challenge. (I can’t even watch YouTube videos or send email without constant buffering delays.) So the time may be coming when I’ll get legit TV again. Maybe.

Until that happens, it has been great fun to be swept up in the Downton whirlwind at the station, including the event we hosted last Thursday night: an evening of music, cuisine and fashion inspired by Downton.  The New England Brass Band joined us for a couple of sets in the Fraser Performance Studio, and presenters and models from Mass Art gave a fashion show in the auditorium. Smashing! Sherry and port flowed through the reception area in the atrium, and many folks even came in costume. Here are a few shots from the evening.

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love live music

February 20, 2012

Since taking on the new job in Boston last fall, there hasn’t much time to keep up consistently with things here.

One of the reasons why, is how much time I’m fortunate enough to spend every week enjoying the live performances happening in the station’s performance studio. We host at least one recital every week and often more than that depending on artists’ schedules and what else we have going on.

Here’s a handful of pics from recent performances. If you’re intrigued after seeing these, you can find the audio from them here.

Music is a gift. Enjoy it at every opportunity you possibly can!

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andsnes in the house

January 13, 2012

Andsnes playing Grieg today

Earlier this week, WGBH’s Fraser Performance Studio got its very own fbook fan page. Just in time for the space to welcome one of the world’s finest pianists – Leif Ove Andsnes – for our weekly feature, Drive Time Live with Cathy Fuller.

He’s in town for this week’s performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Beethoven’s C Major Piano Concerto is on the program, the first of his mighty handful of five “piano vs. orchestra” masterpieces.

Andsnes shared some insight today on the work: “The slow movements by Beethoven – it’s not a private confession, it’s a speech to humanity. And that’s very touching, it’s a such broad feeling which is very different from Mozart or Haydn.”

Life as a touring soloist is challenging, to say the least. There are stories of notable soloists calling the front desk at their hotels just to verify the name of the city he or she is in. Who can keep track of all those time zones?

Andsnes is clear about one thing. While he could live in “any city in the world, as long as it has an airport, to be able to get around” – he’s learned a lot about himself over the years. “I’m getting more and more sure of the fact that I cannot move away from Norway. It’s a fantastic place.”

We’re glad he’s here this week. Tomorrow night’s concert is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time!

Leif Ove Andsnes at WGBH this afternoon

in the corner

December 13, 2011

“I expected a heap of pads to fall out of it. I haven’t touched it in years!”

Working with Keith Lockhart has been an unanticipated pleasure of the new job. I’ve been producing “Keith’s Classical Corner” for a little over a month now with the program’s host, Laura Carlo, and the sessions are such rewarding experiences. Whether he’s cutting up between production sessions with that story about rescuing his clarinet from languishing in a closet, spinning an engaging history of English concert music, or relating anecdotes about the Pops…he’s just one of those people whose presence commands full attention.

This Thursday evening I’ll be at the Pops for the holiday concert. We’re recording it for broadcast this weekend.

I’ll enjoy the music, the superb acoustics of the Hall, the feeling in the audience. And I’ll be thinking about Maestro Lockhart and all of the other funny, thoughtful, talented real people who get up on the stage and make that music happen every day.

Laura Carlo with Keith Lockhart in the Classical New England studios

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.

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