Classic Mornings

Shhh! It’s Mozart


You’re going to think this is a strange question. I’ll ask it anyway: Do you listen to the ambience on the other end of a telephone? 

Sometimes the background ends up telling part of the story. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. News programs often transport us via telephone to worldwide trouble spots. Those reports can get rather dramatic with the backdrop of the actual sounds of various conflicts. The program As It Happens from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was carried years ago on AM 580, relied solely upon telephone conversations around the globe back then. It was almost a treat to hear the occasional incidental ambience.

In your own telephone conversations, you may be limited to the dramatic sounds of a child crying or a dog barking in the background. Even little things have a story to tell beyond the immediate conversation. Once you come to realize that, you never underestimate the role of ambience on the phone.

Back in January, when I returned from the holidays, I noticed a telephone message from a listener – an inquiry from several days before about a music selection that was played. I like to respond to those as soon as I can. So already I was apologetic even while dialing. The listener promptly answered. I identified myself and was asked if I could hold. “Yes,” I said.

I wasn’t exactly placed on hold – just on a counter or tabletop – the telephone was, anyway. In the background I heard familiar music playing.  It was the opening of Mozart’s final concerto, his clarinet concerto, written 2 months before he died back in 1791. I also heard the echo of it from the studio. It was being played on our early afternoon broadcast of classical music. 

I was a silent guest for several minutes, enjoying the Mozart in the unfamiliar ambience of that household before I began to say “hello” -  a bit louder each time. I wondered if something had happened. The listener heard me, returned to the phone and asked if I could continue to hold. I said that, unfortunately, I could not. I just wanted to respond to the inquiry of a week or so ago.  Though I quickly passed along the information, it seems she had long forgotten about that piece of music. She said she was listening to Mozart’s clarinet concerto and didn’t want to miss it.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to say at that point. Afterwards, the thought came to me that in all my attempts to imagine listeners being genuinely moved by all the great works that I send out on the airwaves each day, here was the pot of gold at the other end of the rainbow. But there I was, feeling like a pesky telephone solicitor at the moment, somewhat humbled and somewhat embarrassed.

I might have been put on hold for nearly a half hour so that someone who truly wanted to listen to this last great work by Mozart could do so. I guess I could have hung around that entire time to enjoy the concerto in that unique space.  It reminded me that although listeners may look forward to my keeping them company each morning, there’s a point at which they want to just listen to their music – Mozart or otherwise.  And when I sense I’ve reached that point during a program, I don’t want to say another word, so that they might enjoy the music.

In the same sort of spirit of not wanting to interrupt your music, we’re asking you to help us raise $90,000 for WILL radio during the month of April.  If we raise $90,000 by April 26th, we’ll skip the traditional style fund drive with interruptions of several minutes. Yes, you’ll hear brief reminders, but not those longer breaks. You’ll hear music instead  - the music you continue to help support.

If you have contributed recently, thank you! If you haven’t, please consider doing so as soon as you can to help us reach our goal by April 26th. You may pledge at or on the telephone at 217-244-0025. May you be moved by the prospect of much more Mozart.