Du Yun on Q2

The latest addition to Q2′s programming schedule is Olivia Giovetti’s “The New Canon.” Yesterday, she featured youngish indie classical composers alongside downtown composer Julia Wolfe (the embed player featured a free download of the latter!). The music was great fun but the highlight was an interview with composer Du Yun on her latest, more pop-oriented, release Shark in You (New Focus).

I’ve previously enjoyed Giovetti’s writing for Time Out and her blog, but she’s also a fine interviewer and an entertaining broadcast presence. I’m looking forward to many Monday mornings of “The New Canon.”

Project 440 winners announced

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra announced the winners of the Project 440 competition tonight. The four winners will create new works for Orpheus to be premiered in 2012.

They are:

Alex Mincek

Clint Needham

Andrew Norman

Cynthia Lee Wong

It was quite  a rigorous vetting process with some very talented competition. Congratulations to all!

Today: Project 440 Marathon on Q2

Today (Wednesday, September 8 ) the remaining 30 composer-contestants in the Project 440 competition are being featured in a 24-hour marathon on Q2. The internet radio station will be featuring works by the composers, including a number of private recordings, many of them live, previously unavailable for the delectation of new music listeners.

The contestants are all vying for one of 4 commissioning slots for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s 2011-’12 season.

It’s pretty daring for these emerging composers to share unreleased recordings with the world. It demonstrates a few things:

-In the internet/social media age, there’s been a change in attitude about sharing music hot off the presses. Recordings that might have been kept under wraps or only shared in private hearings or small masterclasses are now posted on the web; oftentimes, warts and all.

-Q2/Project 440 must have had these composers working overtime to get their music cleared for broadcast.

-The composers are being very thoroughly vetted for this commissioning opportunity. Individual web pages, blogging, dealing with comments and votes in a public forum, and now carrying a leg in a broadcast marathon!

Whoever wins this thing will have been tried and tested – and will also have been given a great deal of visibility. One can question how well the reality program model translates to selecting a composer of concert music – one can even have fun selecting the contestants who shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ been up there – but there’s little doubt that this is an extraordinary way to introduce the next generation of new composers to the audience.

Paola on Q2

Our friends at Q2 are featuring the work of Paola Prestini today. the festivities include Prestini commenting on featured tracks at the top of every hour and this nifty live cut (available for download on the Q2 site):

and this video:

Parker from Orpheus to WQXR

Graham Parker, VP of WQXR

For the past eight years, Graham Parker has been the Executive Director of Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Now, he’s going to work for New York’s classical music radio station.

It was announced today that Parker will be the new Vice President of Classical WQXR 105.9 FM and WQXR online. It appears that he’s been tasked with helping the station to develop its brand identity. For those who aren’t “New Yawkers,” this may require some explanation.

In 2009, New York’s National Public Radio Station WNYC acquired WQXR from the New York Times. WQXR’s frequency, 96.3 FM, was in turn traded to Univision’s WCAA, moving the classical station further up the bandwidth to 105.9. For those of us out in the ‘burbs, this has made it more difficult in many areas to get the station. Coverage routinely goes in and out on my commute down to Princeton as I get further from the city.

While signal weakness has been a concern for many listeners, there have been other growing pains associated with the move as well. Some of the music programming previously on WNYC, which was considered the station for more cutting edge fare, has been moved over to WQXR. Some longtime DJs from WQXR were kept on; others were let go to make room for their counterparts on WNYC. As a public radio station, WQXR also jettisoned commercials and religious programs.

The marriage of mainstream classical and public radio’s eclecticism has been a challenging balance to negotiate. The station’s 2009-’10 programming doubtless left a number of longtime WQXR listeners unhappy at the increased incorporation of new music into its mainstream broadcasts. WNYC listeners who hoped for the eclectic and innovative types of music heard on programs such as Soundcheck and New Sounds to be writ large on the rest of the schedule have probably been bummed out too. They’ve been subjected to far more Vivaldi and Telemann than they consider healthy!

A bright spot has been the station’s online new music programing at Q2. This week, they’re spotlighting the music of Xenakis. While one understands that this probably isn’t their best bet for “drive-time” fare, its too bad that more of Q2 hasn’t infiltrated the airwaves.

One hopes that enlisting Mr. Parker helps the station to find its footing and reassert the importance of classical radio – contemporary music and repertory favorites alike – in New York.

So, Sequenza 21 readers, its your turn. What should Parker focus on to make WQXR a better station?

A) Better signal quality/range/accessibility.

B) A more coherent vision for music programming.

C) Local identity and live events.

D) Limiting the amount of Vivaldi bassoon concerti played during any given four-hour period to no more than three.

E) More Nadia Sirota, all the time.