Ionarts is on record for thinking that WETA's decision to abandon classical music was, how to put this politely, a mistake. No one was happier than we when the station decided to take advantage of the format change at WGMS to return to classical programming. The need of many people for classical music on the radio -- without commercials -- can be illustrated with a personal example. I teach in a school run by a Benedictine monastery, and the monks complained to me regularly about what had happened to their classical music station. Many of the monks listen to the radio regularly during their contemplative time, while reading and studying. Yes, they could play CDs, but radio programming is so much better suited for this purpose because it requires no conscious thought beyond turning on the radio. When classical music returned to WETA's airwaves, there were some very happy monks in the abbey.
When the format change was announced, I offered a starry-eyed, pie-in-the-sky list of suggested programming. Almost none of it features in the playlist yet, but things cannot turn around immediately. However, take as an example what I heard on WBJC last night during the car trip back home from hearing Smetana's The Bartered Bride at Baltimore Opera (review planned for tomorrow). The first half of the hour was as follows (with information taken from the evening's playlist published online):
- Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio Overture, op. 72, played by the Bamberg Symphony under the baton of Eugen Jochum (RCA/BMG 61212)--a pretty standard work that could be found regularly on either station
- The commentator, Reed Hessler, then linked the style of Beethoven with one of his sources of inspiration, the strongly contrasted and emotionally charged music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, by playing Mikhail Pletnev's excellent 2001 recording of the fourth CPE Bach sonata, WQ 52 (DG/Archiv 459614)
- The hour was rounded off with Elgar's Dream Children, op. 43 (Teldec 92374), with Andrew Davis leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra
This year, for the first time, the program has been extended to run 52 weeks out of the year. Feast your eyes on the programming scheduled for Live at the Concertgebouw over the next several months. WETA, Radio Netherlands distributes Live at the Concertgebouw through an American partner, WCLV/Seaway Productions. Stations wishing to broadcast the show can contact WCLV directly for broadcast details.