Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In Which Blogs Having Supplanted The Washington Post In Nation's Capital Cultural Affairs, Mr Cogito Vents An Editorial On The New Classical WETA-Lite

"Its current audience is, I would guess, predominantly refugees from WGMS"

Bob, I'm not sure that you are correct about this. At one time, and until very recently, WETA-FM was a very powerful intellectual 'brand' (think 'National Geographic' or 'Live from Lincoln Center' or 'Great Performances' or 'Masterpiece Theater' or 'Nova') and many, many listeners in Greater Washington, I believe, accommodated their classical music listening in order to take breaks at 4 PM in the afternoon for "All Things Considered" (or whatever the old 4 PM program was called), as well as for the 7 PM "The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer;" knowing full well that there would be "Performance Today" at 8 PM, and perhaps 'Music from Washington' at 9 PM, or American Public Media's "SymphonyCast" at 9 PM, or else the otherwise resumption of serious, full-length feature classical music at 9 PM. Wasn't there even an evening dedicated to 'Choral Masterpieces', matching the old WETA-FM's commitment to opera, jazz, American folk and roots music, and pre-baroque 'Western' music [Millennium of Music]? Talk about serving a fully diverse Greater Washington classical musical audience, as opposed to one affluent, European-American suburban cul-de-sac of that culturally and experientially rich audience!

In my opinion, the new Classical WETA-FM has quickly diluted its intellectual 'brand' in an attempt to pander to the less classically and musically educated listening public who were formerly satisfied with the 'made-in-America' mix of shorter, top-40, foreign classical music selections; both soothing and chatty on-air personalities; and the snobbish brand-focused advertising mastered by commercially-driven WGMS; which, as we all know, passed away relatively young this past winter at the age of only 60.

Again, I call upon WETA-FM to be a part of the still stellar, larger WETA brand; one exemplified by superb public news and political reporting, superb world affairs programming, superb science programming, superb Anglo-American entertainment, superb 'Americana' shows such as 'Antiques Roadshow', and superb -- ta ta ta! -- programming such as "The American Experience" and the Ken Burns American history specials!

How would the small percentages of the outspoken here who speak for thousands react if the National Gallery of Art suddenly closed its American Art Wing; citing the need to accommodate those who watched commercial television, but who had never visited an American public museum? [The National Gallery of Art is now featuring a beautiful work of American classical painting, by Martin Johnson Heade, on its home page; in honor of its American classical heritage and the generosity of its outstanding, and America-loving, patron, Paul Mellon; and the equally America-loving The [Patrons] Circle of the National Gallery.] Or, if the National Symphony Orchestra stopped performing any American classical music from America's largely unknown, but rich, over 250 year old history of classical music in the New World? Or if the Washington National Opera (as some Board members are allegedly pressing, perhaps advised by Mr Jim Allison or Mr Dan De Vany) were to break our National Opera Company's historic decision to stage one American opera production every year?

And I deeply resent being called either a crank or hysterical, given the unremunerated public educational service that we gathered here -- like Jens Laurson, Charles T. Downey, Mark Barry, and others -- are providing the Greater Washington's cultural life. It reminds me of the time when, after I had been asked by a former John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts administration, in the late 1990s, to provide pro-bono input on the Performing Arts Campus expansion plans, I was told by the new Kennedy Center leader, Michael Kaiser, to now leave all matters to "the experts." In my opinion, Mr Jim Allison and Mr Dan De Vany are no more above intellectual critical reproach in the matter of the new Classical WETA-FM and its lack of commitment of American classical music culture than is the Smithsonian's Laurence Small.

Source: Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital, the Blog For Classical Music Lovers.

Abraham Lincoln by the now virtually unknown American Master Sculptor, Daniel Chester French, 1850-1931.

In 1893, French was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society, and he became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. French also became a member of the National Academy of Design (1901), the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Sculpture Society, the Architectural League, and the Accademia di San Luca, of Rome.

Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia. With thanks.


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