Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Return of the Radio Star

Tomorrow morning, I will be back on the air as the host of "Gamut," and I promise a very special show.

So where have I been? Well, health issues forced me to give up the program back in August, and I was not able to return until this week. Things are much better now, and so I'm back (I know some people will want more information, but the folks that need to know the details of my condition already know, so let's just leave it at that).

So what to do after a three-month absence? This past summer when it looked like WTJU would drop classical programming entirely, I decided I would have a final show ready just in case. As you know, thanks to the support from the community, that didn't happen, so I shelved the program.

Normally, "Gamut" is about surveying the length and breadth of classical music -- which is why I never repeat a work on the show (easiest way to force me to move on). For that final show, though, I thought I would take a look back and play some of my favorite works that perhaps you might have missed.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed the right way to return to the air. So tomorrow it will be survey of some of my favorite works that I've aired before. Next week, we'll return to our normal survey mode.

So what can you expect? Works both short and long. I'd like to share the Hessenberg Second Symphony with you, one of the best-constructed works of the 20th Century in my opinion. I'll also be playing a symphony by Hovhaness, Steve Reich's "Clapping Music," and perhaps a few other contemporary goodies.

If I can find the disc, I'll air some baroque music by Heinichen, a Hummel piano concerto, and Tallis' "Spem in Alum" for 40 voices. Perhaps some Dvorak, Palestrina, Praetorious, and even some Machaut if I can find the time.

I'm thankful to be back, and especially grateful to all of my colleagues in the classical department who stepped forward and volunteered to keep the show going. If you think it's a sacrifice to get up early once a week to put on a radio show at six in the morning, try doing it twice a week! That's what some of our dedicated volunteers did. And remember, none of us get paid -- we do this for the love of the music.

If you're excited about my return (or not), if you too feel grateful to the folks who kept "Gamut" going, then please remember to share the love when our Classical Fund-Raising Music Marathon starts in a few weeks. As much as I appreciate the phone calls and the well-wishes, it's how much comes in from listeners to help fund the operation of WTJU that will really speak volumes.

I look forward to returning to the airways tomorrow, so we can continue our exploration of this amazingly diverse world of classical music together. Remember: "Gamut" 6-9 AM exclusively on WTJU, 91.1FM.

It's a date.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A random act of culture

What if you were shopping in a crowded Macy's and the person next to you suddenly started singing Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus? Right. I'd begin shuffling away as quickly as possible. But what if it wasn't just one shopper, but 630? And what if they were accompanied by one of the most famous organs in the world?

Now that's a different situation.

The Knight Foundation has been funding a series of guerilla performances under the rubric of "Random Acts of Culture." The idea is take the arts out of the stage, concert hall and other venues where they're isolated from the general public, and place them right where ordinary people congregate.

The "Hallelujah" chorus project was the foundation's most ambitious project to date. The Macy's Departmant store in Philadelphia is home to the Wanamaker Organ, the world's largest pipe organ. Over 600 trained choristors (the core coming from the Opera Company of Philadelphia) from the area were recuited to mingle among the holiday shoppers. When the organ started the introduction, magic happened -- as you can see from the following video. Sorry I don't live in Philadelphia!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Celebration of Schmaltz (with a little Schumann too)

If you're a fan of live organ music, here's a chance to hear a real pro. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Chapter of the American Guild of Organists presents a program entitled “A Celebration of Schmaltz (with a little Schumann too)” at 7:30pm on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at First Presbyterian Church, 500 Park Street, Charlottesville, VA. The event, part of the Chapter’s 35th anniversary celebration, is free and open to the public and will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Robert Schumann and the 30th anniversary of the death of organ virtuoso Virgil Fox.

Visiting Organist Brink Bush from Providence, Rhode Island, will perform the music of J. S. Bach, Schumann, and Wilhelm Middelschulte in the context of virtuoso organist Virgil Fox. Mr. Bush edited "The Innermost Secrets" by T. Ernest Nichols, a book about Fox’s legendary technique.

Mr. Bush is the Organist & Director of Music for the Cathedral of St. John, Providence RI. He is one of the leading interpreters of German Romantic organ music in the world today. He has performed throughout the United States and abroad. He performed at Trinity Church Wall St. for the "Virgil Fox Legacy Twenty-fifth Anniversary Concert Weekend" in October 2005. In 2005 he also edited "The Innermost Secrets" by T. Ernest Nichols, a book about Virgil Fox’s legendary technique.

Brink Bush studied organ at Peabody Institute, the Juilliard School, and the Eastman School of Music with David Craighead, Robert Elmore, Russell Saunders and Rosalyn Tureck. His first compact disc, Volume 1 of the Complete Works of Wilhelm Middelschulte, was released in October of 1999. He is also the primary contributor to the new Complete Organ Works of Middelschulte published in 2007 by Baerenreiter.

At 6pm on Sunday, November 7, Mr. Bush will appear as my guest on WTJU’s The King of Instruments which airs every Sunday evening from 6 - 7pm on 91.1FM and streams live at wtju.net.