Lessons in Harmoney
Do you wonder what I’m doing during those minutes just before showtime? It’s probably a good thing that you’re nowhere near the studio door. Usually, I’m dashing in and out of it in an attempt to get everything I need all set up in the studio. When I eventually get somewhat settled, I half-listen to the last few stories on the Marketplace Morning Report.
A couple of weeks ago, knowing that I wanted to open with a particular concerto by Vivaldi, I imagined a Marketplace story about the fact that the Violin Concerto in B flat, RV 375 was one of those that Vivaldi wrote late in his life for individuals who paid a hefty price for them. There weren’t a lot of copies of those works floating around. That’s why it took so long for them to surface over the centuries – and to get recorded. That happened just 20 years ago with violinist Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra.
You would think that with music from a rare manuscript that’s been recorded only once, violinists would flock to get hold of a contemporary publication of it. And wouldn’t you expect listeners to go out of their way and pay big bucks to hear it performed live?
I’m obviously not an economist. I’m an enthusiastic classical music radio host. I know that the first time I heard the recording of the work, I decided it was precious enough to play on Classic Mornings. I realize that’s not the same as having precious metals. Nor does my treasuring the opportunity to introduce listeners to works I’ve selected have anything to do with the U.S Treasury. And I’m guessing that Marketplace wouldn’t be interested in talking about the market value of metaphors.
That doesn’t mean I’m totally out of touch with the topics they cover. In fact, I’ve observed a few things in the course of my daily program preparation that they may or may not have dealt with in their reports.
There have been record company mergers or buyouts over the years. Entire catalogs of classical music recordings are now owned by fewer companies. That has resulted in ongoing changes in the information we pass along to those wanting to acquire particular recordings. Sometimes the name of the company listed on the recording, or the recording number, has changed. Given that there are lots of used CDs out there, you suddenly have the original release of a recording competing with its reissue.
Some of those reissues are a part of a large box set. The price per disc of those sets can be quite attractive. But with the repackaging of selections, it may not be practical or economical to acquire an entire set just for the sake of a few selections you don’t have. And for the average listener, how many sets of 20, 50 or 100 CDs does anyone have time to listen to? There are many recordings that have been eliminated from catalogs and no longer available as well.
Record distributors had been providing CDs and/or sound files to radio stations at no charge. Over the past couple of years, the number of those has decreased. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for all that we’re able to acquire. And there still are opportunities to purchase recordings at radio station prices. You can be sure we take advantage of those.
I also take advantage of any opportunities to audition at least portions of recordings that I’m interested in purchasing for the Friends of WILL Library. I have an amusing story to relate about that. Most of the online samples are of the opening :30 to :60 of each track on a recording. In classical music concertos – that is, works for a soloist and orchestra, it’s often the case that the soloist’s part isn’t heard until just after an orchestral introduction of about a minute. So, there have been times when I’ve attempted to decide on a recording for a particular soloist, yet never heard a note of their playing in any of the sound samples.
When it comes to dollars and cents, there are some other things I’ve learned over the years. WILL listeners have been generous with theirs. I don’t know much about market trends and forecasts. But I do know that I’m grateful for the ongoing support of our listeners and underwriters, which makes it possible for me to bring you the classical music, stories, and celebrations that are a part of Classic Mornings.
OK, there’s one more thing I know: you may contribute by calling 217-244-9455 or by going online to willgive.org. The end of the fiscal year is coming up on June 30. Your support now will help us bring you the music you look forward to during the next 12 months. Thank you!