Grateful To Celebrate

April 09, 2020
 

The show went on. I hope you were there.

I hadn’t imagined a year ago - or even months ago - that one of the most special things about the Classic Mornings 10th anniversary program would be the fact that that I could be there with listeners to celebrate it. So many other local, national and international events have been postponed.

Even while I was preparing the program, I didn’t promote it. After all, things have been changing from day to day. Only when I arrived at WILL the morning of April 1st  was I reasonably sure that we were going to celebrate.

I wanted to imagine the program that morning as a much-needed concert that everyone had been waiting for. It was to be an event so special that it would be broadcast around the world and feature some of the biggest names in classical music.

Actually, that happens each morning. The program can be streamed anywhere in the world. And we hear from some of the biggest names in classical music – little ones too . It comes to you from what we might call the “Concert Hall of the Theatre of the Imagination.”  It’s huge and magnificent or it’s small and intimate. You get to decide.

In that concert hall, everybody has a choice seat. I wanted all of our WILL-FM listeners to be there that morning. And I was grateful to be there with them.

I began the program with an ensemble that had the chance to celebrate quite a few times during its history. The Beaux Arts Trio was around for more than 50 years, thanks to its founding pianist, Menahem Pressler, who was a part of it from start to finish.  I’m sure there was a 10th anniversary and a 25th. I was privileged to be at their 30th anniversary concert back in 1985 when Pressler, violinist Isidore Cohen and cellist Bernard Greenhouse were the Beaux Arts Trio. I opened with their performance of one of the trios of Franz Joseph Haydn.

There are so many fun stories that I’ve come upon over the past decade and which I couldn’t wait to share with listeners at the time I discovered them. Some of the better ones I revive from time to time. Because the Classic Mornings 10th anniversary occurs during the year leading up to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, I retold one related to Beethoven.

A Beethoven contemporary, Johan Nepomuk Maelzel, was the inventor of the metronome: that mechanical tick-tocking device that has helped many a musician keep the proper tempo and pace with a piece of music. Well, it became a sort of musical legend that the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 8th symphony was a tribute to Maelzel’s invention. It’s not true. But the first time I listened to the music with just the suggestion, it made for a little amusement. So I shared the fun for the sake of those who hadn’t heard about it before.

I played pieces that morning which are featured regularly on the program, including some that arrived during the past 10 years. I mentioned the wave of mandolin recordings in recent years, with music from the time of Vivaldi to the time of Beethoven. The group Artemandoline from Luxembourg is one of many that has introduced us to composers who wrote for the instrument. Most of those composers’ names are new to the Friends of WILL Library. I’m glad we post a playlist for listeners to look them up afterwards.

There’s been a sort of Vivaldi renaissance durng the past 25 years or so, and I’d like to think that Classic Mornings has been in close contact with it.  New recordings of his music are trickling in all the time, performed by groups that seem to be springing up all over the place. I featured a concerto played by an ensemble from Switzerland: I Barocchisti, which is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year.

I’m surprised nobody has called over the years to say: “Vic, your program is so steeped in Cologne.” It’s true. We get to enjoy so many  chamber ensembles from Köln (Cologne), Germany. And I gave listeners a whiff of a piece by Anton Eberl that one of those groups introduced us to with a re-issued boxed set that we acquired in 2014: Concerto Köln.

Many probably guessed that we were going to hear from Michala Petri, Maria João Pires and Sarah Chang that morning. April 1st was also Sergei Rachmaninov’s birthday.

While I was planning it all, I realized that there would never be enough time to play everything I wanted to play to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Classic Mornings. So I asked those listening to keep tuning in. And I’ll continue to bring them great classical music and stories– thanks to their support!

Be a part of the 11th year!  Join us Monday through Friday from 9-noon on FM 90.9 and online at will.illinois.edu.


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