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The End of “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde”

Marvin Rosen interviews composer Alex Shapiro.

For years now, long-time WPRB radio host Marvin Rosen has brought the world (though it’s in Princeton, New Jersey, it also streams live over the web) all manner of “Classical Discoveries” every Wednesday from 5:30 to 11 AM ET. But from 11 AM until 1 PM “Classical Discoveries” switched gears to become “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde“, serving up the newest — and often by radio standards, the “difficult” — works to an enthusiastic audience eager to hear what’s going on today in contemporary classical music. Often there were also interviews with established and up-and-coming composers and performers as well.

The broadcast landscape for such stuff is already so very tiny in the vast radio world of “safe” music, talk, news, sports, etc; unfortunately it’s about to shrink even more, as Marvin’s “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde” slot is being shut down by the WPRB powers-that-be in favor of other programming. Joe Barron over at the “Liberated Dissonance” blog has more on the story. Marvin is truly one of the most warm and selfless people I know, working so hard each week to bring his listeners this stuff — even when stylistically it might not be his personal cup of tea — simply because he really loves our living music of today in all its forms, and feels so strongly the need to share that enthusiasm with the wider world.

Marvin’s “Classical Discoveries” show will remain a WPRB Wednesday-morning fixture, but the last “Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde” is this Wednesday, 11 AM until 1 PM. Tune in if you can, broadcast or online, and a huge round of applause to Marvin for what he was able to bring both the living composers and adventurous listeners these past five years.

[Update: the management of WPRB has responded with some further amplification, in the comments at the end of this post.]

Comments

Comment from Jennifer
Time: January 29, 2013, 2:21 pm

Great article Steve! Marvin’s work is really a one of a kind radio DJ.

Comment from Jennifer
Time: January 29, 2013, 2:26 pm

Ooops, I meant to say that Marvin does great work and is a one of a kind radio DJ. This is what happens when I post from my phone!

Comment from Joe Barron
Time: January 29, 2013, 4:33 pm

Excellent post, Steve. Thank you for taking note of the passing of a great show. As I said in an interview last year before my appearance on Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde, Marvin is a treasure. Everything he plays is something I have not heard before. There is no other classical program I can say that about.

Comment from Rain Worthington
Time: January 31, 2013, 1:13 pm

Marvin has been an incredible advocate for contemporary music and contemporary composers. His programs have included countless premieres and wonderful mixes of music from both established composers and many, many deserving lesser-known composers. He also brings a global perspective to his programs and is perhaps the most informed and up-to-date radio music director on any radio network anywhere.

Unfortunately, in today’s arts environment where entertainment and novelty overwhelmingly win out over more compelling work, it’s necessitated ongoing appeals with the station for him to make the case to sustain his program slots.

Sadly, any cuts to his unique programming is a great loss for contemporary music and contemporary composers worldwide.

Comment from WPRB Management
Time: February 4, 2013, 12:36 pm

While it was announced the past week that Classical Discoveries Goes Avant Garde (CDGAG) has been canceled, WPRB management wants to assure our listeners that we have not chosen to “cancel” any particular show. As our DJs and long-time listeners know, WPRB is a free-format station. This means that there are no restrictions on what DJs broadcast during their hours on air. Changes in programming are routine, and with each new season, we incorporate as many DJs as possible into the weekly schedule. While the hours of Classical Discoveries have been condensed for the spring schedule, Marvin still has free reign over the content of his five hour show. Considering the interest CDGAG has generated, we encourage listeners who want Marvin to devote a portion of his spring programming to the avant garde to contact him and make this request.

Best Regards,
WPRB Management

Comment from Piotr Grella-Mozejko
Time: February 4, 2013, 10:26 pm

When in mid-2009 I approached the Board of our CJSR Radio about a show devoted to avant-garde music creation, I did not have much hopes – and yet I was overwhelmed by their positive response. And for your information, CJSR is a UNIVERSITY station, run by STUDENTS. I got a go ahead to do the show instantly and broadcast the first instalment in September of that year. I do not have to add that Marvin was my inspiration in this, for which I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart!

Shame on the short-sighted, petty and uncultured (yes, absolutely, uncultured) WPRB Student Board. It is clear to me that these uneducated (because only uneducated person is capable of making such a destructive and stupid decision as this), malicious primitives have their own very “special” agenda… Well, getting a degree from Princeton (or another Ivy League school) does not mean that one is intelligent. Some US Presidents prove this point admiringly.

And the recent “explanatory” statement from the Board is so hypocritical it causes major toothache, as we say in Poland. And Marvin has been conspicuously silent – I am certain his hands are tied because under the similar circumstances nobody else would have kept her/his mouth shut. I am certain the Board ordered him to remain silent and make no comments. What the WPRB Board has committed here is murder plain and simple – a murder on some of the most positive aspects of American culture. My Mother has this wonderful saying: “There is nothing more dangerous than an alliance of mediocrities”. How appropriate here. Yes, I have to agree and say that the stupidity of this decision is astounding. But the truth is you cannot discuss with retards. They always win.