From WILL - Classic Mornings -

Four Years (No Foolin’!)

April 1 was the day we had our first Classic Morning, four years ago (no fooling!). We’ve had more than a thousand of them since! 

I hope you’ve been able to join us for as many as all of them, or at least several hundred. It’s interesting – and I did mention this during the anniversary program on Tuesday - that no matter what I say, the fact that the program began on April 1st almost invites listeners to anticipate a punch line. So how do we celebrate the anniversary? As I suggested at the outset of the program, if I were to joke about it, indeed you would think I was joking. If I were to be serious about it, you might think I was setting you up for some kind of practical joke. Just the dilemma is fun – and certainly in the spirit of the program.

I’ve heard many comments over the years about Classic Mornings and am grateful that listeners appreciate it.  At the outset I had in mind a program that came as close as possible to inviting you over to listen to classical music and to enjoy a little time together – even if you have to come and go. (You won’t disrupt anything or draw unwanted attention by having to come and go. Radio makes that possible.)  For sure there would have to be celebrations involving composers and performers. You might even get to discover famous musicians with whom you share birthdays. At the heart of it all is the music.  Enjoying together selections from the Friends of WILL Library, mixing in an occasional new recording and spicing the program with a story here and there was the idea too. There’s something there for everybody: those who are long-time classical music listeners as well as those who are new to classical music or consider themselves occasional listeners.

I envisioned the Classic Morning Prelude as a way of making the last 9 minutes of Morning Edition on FM 90.9 a feature-like experience that serves as both a dessert at the end of Morning Edition and an appetizer for Classic Mornings. Given that the Morning Edition and Classic Mornings audiences come together at that point, I’ve reserved some of the day’s biggest celebrations and first hearings of selections from new recordings for that 8:50am segment.

The addition of an online audience has opened up a world (literally) of possibilities for Classic Mornings, though the program continues to be presented to the local central Illinois audience. Our listener in Africa, who is from central Illinois, did mention the appeal of having a little bit of home away from home. My email reply to that listener was that I was happy to be the one doing the home-cooking! I welcome listeners from other faraway places to join us and to feel at home with those enjoying classical music on the radio in central Illinois.

The April edition of Patterns (WILL’s program guide) has a little article about some of the additions to the Friends of WILL Library which I selected over the past year.  Space was limited in the article, and that’s probably a good thing since I could go on and on about it. There actually are two kinds of acquisitions. Since the beginning of the year, you have heard me say fairly regularly that a new recording has come into the Friends of WILL Library. All of those recordings are courtesy of a number of generous record companies, distributors and musicians.  We’re most grateful to all of them. In some cases, we are given the opportunity to choose recordings from a list of new releases. Because they are new releases, there’s a bit of guess work involved in that choosing, though I would say a well-informed kind of guess work. The recordings listed in Patterns are from the limited number of CD purchases we’re able to make each year. There, I spend hours following leads – based on the composers, genres, types of works, performers, etc. which I have found our listeners enjoy. In most cases, there is at least some opportunity to listen to bits and pieces of the recordings online.

We don’t have everything in the Friends of WILL Library. But we have many good things. I try my best to fill some gaps in our repertoire little by little, the way it has been done for years now. Given the core of the library from over the years, the promotional CDs and those we purchase, the library remains healthy and continues to grow.

A recent arrival with the promotional CDs is the re-issue of a recording from 30 years ago featuring the German-born clarinetist Sabine Meyer (Warner 5054196055622). She was 25 at the time and has since enjoyed a bit of stardom. Her father was a clarinetist. Her husband is a clarinetist. Her brother Wolfgang is a clarinetist. Wolfgang has performed with her on recordings over the years. They’re featured together in a few works on this recording, which by the way makes its debut in the Friends of WILL Library. Somehow we missed getting it the first time around.  So it’s the first time we’ve had a recording of the clarinet quintet by Carl Maria von Weber in Weber’s version for clarinet and string orchestra.  It sounds more like a concerto in that version.  The recording includes the Adagio for clarinet and orchestra by Heinrich Baermann. Many have come to know it as an adagio by Richard Wagner. It is in fact a work by the clarinetist for whom Carl Maria von Weber wrote his quintet and other works for clarinet. Originally, it was part of a clarinet quintet by Baermann. In the notes by Ingo Dorfmüller that are included with the recording, there is the explanation that the owner of the manuscript of the Baermann Adagio had it published with Wagner’s name. We are told that the publisher of the original Octet and of the Adagio was one and the same, yet never did catch the deception. Anyway, it’s nice to have another recording of it in addition to the one featuring the late English clarinetist Jack Brymer, which makes no mention of Baermann at all.

Another recent acquisition worth mentioning is one that introduces us to cellist Stefano Vaggetti and Ensemble Cordia from northern Italy. They have a recording  which includes cello concertos by the 18th Century composer Giovanni Benedetto Platti (Brilliant Classics 94722). Platti wrote them for a cello playing patron in southern Germany. Though the name Platti is not new to the Friends of WILL Library, this is a recording that allows me to play the composer’s music with enthusiasm. Indeed, we’ve heard selections on the Classic Morning Prelude and Classic Mornings.

Next week, we begin our Spring Fund Drive for WILL radio. As a part of that, we’ll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Friends of WILL!. You already know about the Friends’ support of the music library. It extends well beyond that to every aspect of our broadcast operation. Generations of listeners in central Illinois have made it possible for succeeding generations to have classical music on the radio, which is something rare these days. That music is there to entertain, to educate and to inspire listeners of all ages.  I hope you’ll take a moment during the upcoming drive to renew your support or become a member of the Friends of WILL for the first time. Every gift counts, no matter what amount. Thank you for your support!

Join me for Classic Mornings, Monday through Friday from 9-noon, and for the Classic Morning Prelude just before at 8:50 on WILL FM 90.9 or online at will.illinois.edu.