Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Great Debate: Will Classical WETA-FM, In Nation's Capital, Be Guided By Archaic WGMS Listener Surveys Or By WETA's Mission Statement?

3.14.07 at 8:36 am

by Garth Trinkl

Mr (or Ms) Moore, I stand by my comments below. I have no problem whatsoever with quotas or goals for American music: quotas or goals properly defined and specifically tailored to address past and current discrimination against American music and American composers, if that is what it takes to hold Classical WETA-FM to WETA's self-proclaimed mission. That is why I proposed that WETA ask the Honorable Sandra Day O'Conner to head a panel to advise Classical WETA-FM on a properly defined, and specifically tailored, plan to increase the representation of American classical music on its classical music playlists; playlists which now very often include 0% music by American composers (but a larger percentage of music performed by American performers, produced in America, or -- rarely if at all -- by non-American composers setting American lyrics).

The WETA Mission Statement (first part):

"WETA's mission is to produce and broadcast programs of intellectual integrity and cultural merit that recognize viewers' and listeners' intelligence, curiosity and interest in the world around them..."

I believe strongly that it is impossible for Classical WETA-FM to carry out this mission without recognizing -- on a daily basis -- the role that American classical music has played in the living American culture for over the past 250 years.

In your comment and analysis, you contradict your initial post below in which you call for a clear definition to be made regarding American (or Canadian, as you cite) content. You ask that a distinction be made between music composed by an American (or Canadian) composer; and music performed by, produced in, or setting lyrics by an American (or Canadian) composer.

In my post which you criticize, I made no such clarification for purposes of preparing my National Arts Advocacy Day posting. I noted the significant number of American classical works on the Cincinnati Public Radio playlist (including a work by a Brazilian composer, which I believe you skipped in your analysis, but which could conceivably be considered American classical music); estimated their timing; estimated that a public classical music station dedicates perhaps 960 minutes (24 x 40 minutes) to actual classical music airtime; and included a 50% upward adjustment for the fact that a quick glance at yesterday's Cincinnati playlist started off with Rachmaninoff being played by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on the American label TELDEC; and, later Mendelssohn, performed by the St Paul Chamber Orchestra under Bobby McFerrin.

If, on the other hand, I had been retained by the American for the Arts to prepare actual lobbying materials for paid-lobbyists to use in their meetings yesterday on Capital Hill, I would, of course, needed to be much more precise as to what was meant by American classical music and American classical music content.

Similarly, had I been retained to prepare the statistical and anecdotal case for American classical music for use in a court case before the United States Supreme Court, I would have needed to be much more careful in my conceptual definitions, statistical analyses, and statements of anecdotal findings.

In fact, prior to preparing my American classical music advocacy letter to Sharon Percy Rockefeller and the members of the Board of Directors of WETA, I will, in fact, develop just such a more precise basis of analysis and argument.

Before I submit that letter to WETA President and CEO Sharon Rockefeller, I will, however, wait to see whether WETA-FM Vice President and General Manager Daniel C. DeVany responds to requests made below to provide an explanation as to why Mr Jim Allison is allowed very often to program no American classical music, despite the fact that American classical music CDs are apparently at hand within the Classical WETA-FM Broadcast facilities. (Mr Allison – and probably now Mr DeVany and other senior WETA executives -- is well aware that WGMS’s internal listener-surveys indicated that WGMS listeners disfavored American classical music, as well as vocal music and modern music. However, I believe, that this disfavor is not shared by public radio classical music listeners who subscribe instead to WETA’s mission statement goals of respecting intellectual integrity and cultural merit in program decision-making.)

Source: Classical WETA 90.9 FM The Blog For Classical Music Lovers


And many thanks to Slovakian-Canadian composer, conductor, and performer Peter Breiner for his comment on this blog, yesterday, that he arranged the Enrique Granados transcription heard yesterday on Cincinnati's public radio station WGUC; and therefore, correctly in my view, that he considered the work at least partially 'American'. Thanks again for writing!

Peter Breiner (b. 1957 in Humenné, Slovakia) is one of the most successful living Slovak musicians as well as one of the world's most recorded ones (over 1.2 million CDs sold on Naxos/Marco Polo labels only). He composes, conducts and performs as a pianist.

Since March 1992, Peter has lived in Toronto, Canada. He has performed as conductor and pianist in hundreds of concerts and recordings (over 100 CDs).

Humenne is located in Eastern Slovakia. Humenne was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Zemplen Megye) until 1918, then it was in Czechoslovakia. Humenne has been in the Slovak Republic since 1991 as a result of the "Velvet Revolution".

The Velvet Revolution Czechoslovakia, in 1989, helped to end the era of Apparatchik control of Eastern Europe (and Ukraine; and the Russian Federation, in part.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons. With thanks.


Composer, conductor, and pianist Peter Breiner photo.


Blogger Plešivá Hlava said...

Hi, Garth;

I am US resident since March 2006 - so even more so! ;-)


7:27 PM  

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