FEATURED ARTIST: Sung Choi FEATURED ARTIST: Sung Choi FEATURED ARTIST: Sung Choi FEATURED ARTIST: Sung Choi FEATURED ARTIST: Sing Choi

June 30, 2016

Marquam Building

The Rise and Fall of the Marquam Grand: a tragedy

This is my second week in Portland, and already I am intrigued by the city’s vibrant music culture and its history. While searching to learn more about the city’s central musical sites, I discovered the story of the Marquam Building…

Like many great operas, this story opens with a glorious and stunning entrance and closes with only the most spectacular of tragedies. Set the scene in Portland, Oregon in January 1890. As the glow and sparkle of New Year’s celebrations fade, Portland shifts its attention and anticipation to a new beginning. A crowd gathers on the corner of Morrison Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in the early morning of January 28, “an unusual thing,” reports the Morning Oregonian, “to see a line of staid and sober citizens waiting for a business house to open as early as 6 o’clock in the morning.” Dollars in hand, they steal glances up through the grey fog at the newly-constructed towering brick building. We cue the overture, and the curtain rises.

The Marquam Building, an early Portland skyscraper, is the title character of this operatic story. Fitting, that it also housed Portland’s first opera house, the Marquam Grand Opera (renamed the Orpheum Theater in 1908) from 1890 until 1912. The wealthy judge and lifelong Portland resident Philip A. Marquam oversaw its construction. It stood an impressive eight stories tall at 335 Morrison Street, currently 621 SW Morrison. Considered the finest theater on the West coast, it attracted many musical celebrities, including nationally recognized Emma Juch and her English Opera Company, over the course of its brief 22 years.

The eagerly anticipated opening was delayed due to the late arrival of 1000 chairs, but the throngs that formed outside the Marquam in the early mornings to purchase their $1 or $2 tickets had to wait only a week. The opera finally hosted its premiere show on February 10, 1890: Gounod’s Faust. The show itself could not have upstaged the long-awaited unveiling of the interior of the theater. “The electric lights, 800 in number, will be in full blast,” promised the Morning Oregonian, and “[the audience] will be fully compensated for their first disappointment by the dazzling display of beauty and elegance which will greet their eyes.” Blue and amber drapes adorned the walls, an impressive 1,442 seats filled the floor, and for a hefty $15 or $20, audience members could have the luxury of watching from domed boxes. House rules were strict: visible signage inside the theater prohibited catcalls, whistling, and stomping of feet, and a bouncer enforced these policies. The opera, with its ornate splendor, large audience capacity, professional music, and frequent shows, was to become the core of the new commercial downtown center of the growing city.

Marquam Grand Opera House interior

The Marquam Grand Opera was certainly the star of this turn-of-the-century show: “It is a handsome nine-story structure, built of modern brick and steel, fireproof throughout and tastefully ornamented with stone.” Handsome, indeed, but this testimony written in 1911 could not predict the catastrophe that was about to (quite literally) fall the following year.

It was an early dawn in November 1912, reminiscent of our opening scene but without the quiet anticipation of an attentive crowd; in fact, no one was expecting the impending disaster. At 4 AM, three lower (and thankfully, empty) floors of the Marquam Building collapsed without warning. The few people in the building quickly evacuated before the second crash at 11 AM, when the remaining floors succumbed to an identical fate. Luckily, there were no injuries, but the imposingly grand Marquam Building now lay across Morrison Street in scattered, irreparable pieces.

There were rumors and contemplations over rebuilding the Marquam Building, but city officials left the plans unfinished and never commenced the reconstruction. The Orpheum company eventually moved the opera to the nearby Bungalow Theater (currently the site of the downtown Nordstrom) to continue their shows in a new building, but the Marquam Grand had delivered its final closing lines. The orchestra sustains, and the curtain falls.

***

For more information about the Marquam Building, check out the following links:
“Opening Night” and “Wreck of the Marquam Grand” – blog entries by Portland historian Dan Haneckow
“Throngs Gaze As Brick Walls Fall” – article in the Morning Oregonian, November 22, 1912

Interested in some of the operas that were heard at the Marquam Grand? During the opening week, Emma Juch starred in these shows:
Faust (Gounod)
Carmen (Bizet)
Der Freischütz (Wagner)

***

Bibliography – Marquam Grand

JP photo for blog

Q & A with the Intern: Interviewing the Hosts

Prologue

It is common knowledge that a good performer makes their work appear seamless. There are no cracks through which information about their influences, skills, and technique pours out. Although some audiences consider it a privilege to crack open a performer and examine the rivers which course through their art, it is usually the case that performers contain these sources within their work, rendering them invisible to the audience’s eye. It is also the case that performers are uninterested in their artistic sources. This perspective is at play when JK Rowling wonders why adults always ask where her ideas come from, effectively criticizing their inability to fathom the imaginative leaps she makes to create the HP world. Basquiat shares this sentiment in Schnabel’s film Basquiat when he frames a question about his artistic choices as dubious: “Was Miles asked where he got his notes from?” I believe that these questions should continue to be posed despite its censure. This is even possible without seeming inane or intrusive. At All Classical Portland, it is necessary to expose the backstage for audiences and involve them in the space and its processes because All Classical Portland aims to create music which its listeners believe in and love.

Thus, with peace of mind, I have asked three staff members at All Classical Portland what shapes their performances at the station. I am specifically curious to know about the keys which unlock their work, such as beliefs/skills/processes, so that listeners can become better acquainted with the parts and players which keep All Classical Portland running. The interviews which follow as well as my experiences as an intern at All Classical Portland have demonstrated that performers don’t always have to be distant.

Opening Conversations at the Booth
with Robert McBride

Z.A: Are there any conceptualizations you have made in your time as an on-air host which underlies your job and the way you work?

R.M: I think of presenting classical music on the radio more as the means than the end. What we’re really doing is trying to enhance the lives of those who listen to us, with music, information, and companionship. The shared, real-time listening experience, by thousands of people around the world, is particularly intriguing to me: most of those people will never have any kind of contact with each other, by they are, nevertheless, a community created by shared interests. The hosts are members of that community and facilitators of that experience.

Z.A: Do listeners know they’re experiencing music in a community and should they? Do you envision a listener on their own or in community, and which do you work for?

RM: It would vary. Extroverts might be more likely to think of themselves as sharing the listening experience with others, but introverts might prefer to feel like they’re having a more intimate, or even private, experience. I/we need to serve both kinds of listeners and be aware of their needs, preferences, and experiences. There are different kinds of listening experiences every day: someone alone in their car, someone else with a group at a dinner party, etc. Certainly the more we refer to different situations or different time zones, the more the listeners will be aware of them and perhaps feel some kind of connection or virtual community.

Z.A: What do you prioritize in your presentation of music? Is companionship more important than historically contextualizing music?

R.M: I think companionship is more important, though I didn’t use to see it that way, when I started way back in the previous century.

Z.A: As the voice which introduces music and the first voice to be heard at the close of music, you may be embedded in listeners’ impressions of music. Do you feel that your position as a facilitator of musical experiences changes? If so, what do you do to offset your omnipresence?

RM: I don’t want to be thought of as omnipresent! I try to avoid that by not talking too much and by varying that constantly: some of my voice breaks will be longer than others, and the occasional really short one helps to keep things moving and keep the emphasis on the music.

This desire he expresses above, to open Western classical music to listeners in different geographical, social, and psychological situations, is evident in his weekly, live broadcast. It has been my pleasure to help set up Thursdays @ Three as I could see his beliefs in action. He made sure all parties were informed about how the broadcast would proceed–performers were given a chance to OK interviews before the broadcast and audience members learned what his gestures for applause and holding for applause looked like–thereby putting everyone at ease and creating an environment where joy and spontaneity were possible.

The Playlist
with John Pitman

Z.A: How do you understand your work as a music programmer at All Classical Portland?

JP:  I’m part of what we call our Programming Team.  It comprises myself, as music director, as well as John Burk, VP of Programming, and Suzanne Nance, Program Director.  Each has different roles and tasks to perform, but we all have the same objective:  to create fresh, vibrant, compelling and relevant programming with classical music.  The latest CDs are sent to me to audition, and either add directly to the playlist, or share with John and Suzanne to give me their perspectives before adding to our mix.  My main work, though, is crafting each day’s music log for the hosts to share with listeners.  This occupies a large portion of my week:  carefully listening to, and crafting, the sequence of music that is heard from 12am to 11:59pm each day of the year.

Z.A: Are there any conceptualizations you have made in your time as a programmer which underlie your job and the way you work?

JP:  Mr. Burk and I, primarily, laid the foundation of the music programming some time ago, which comprises all of the standard repertoire, along with neglected gems, and pieces written by today’s composers which enhance our “sound”.  I start each day’s programming with the music that is currently available to use:  there is library software that helps me – and all of the hosts when they search for pieces – that prevents us from duplicating our own, previous days’ programs.  This ensures the freshest selection of pieces, and avoids overplaying of any piece in our playlist.  We also program music according to its energy level (think Barber’s Adagio versus a Sousa march), and keep certain pieces from appearing at select times of day or night.  This helps to create the appropriate sound to accompany listeners’ activities.  There’s more, of course, but we don’t want to give away too many of our secrets!  It might spoil the magic.

Z.A: Do you have to establish the station’s sound every day?

JP:  I don’t have to establish the station’s sound, so much as sustain it.  A longstanding familiarity with the program department’s vision and mission ensures consistent quality.  The software I mentioned helps me make sure that our overall vision for how the station should sound, remains consistent from day to day.

Z.A: Is there a hierarchy among the music that comprises the station’s sound? For example, do you prioritize standard rep over new music and play it more?

JP:  We make sure that we meet our listeners’ expectations, by maintaining a good balance between the standard repertoire, and newer works or less-familiar pieces from past eras.  Some pieces that we’ve incorporated into our programming have turned up on orchestral concerts over the years, so we seem to be making a good impression!  If either type of music (favorites/unfamiliar) are played too often, listeners notice.  They might say that we’re not digging too deeply, while other listeners might perceive that we’re neglecting the masters.  It takes great care and attention to what’s being played to make sure it all stays fresh.

 Z.A: In order to program relevant content, do you solicit listener’s feedback and program in light of it? Is listener satisfaction and enjoyment, which you call your end goal, possible without addressing listeners’ requests?

JP:  We find that we don’t need to solicit listener feedback, as the passionate classical music fans discover pieces on their own, and then simply get in touch with us.  They might do that via our Saturday request program, our annual Classical Countdown (in December), or simply sending us an e-mail.  I’ve been introduced to some wonderful pieces that we’ve subsequently added to our playlist.

Z.A: What skills/traits/processes are necessary for music programming?

J.P: First of all, a deep knowledge of, and appreciation for, the art form (classical music).  Knowing the music (pieces, or compositions) well, and on an intimate level, ensures the highest level of quality for the listening experience.  It takes a long time, of course, and objectivity can be a challenge.  We strive to present the music according to long-agreed decisions about what constitutes great music; along with that, our subjective sides inform us how to make critical decisions of what pieces should be added to the standard repertoire.  Another trait is identifying when is the right time to play a piece.  Not just time of day, but time of week, or year.  Finally, I would say, passion for this music determines the end result that we’re working toward.  Consistent listener satisfaction and enjoyment.

Negotiating Conversations at the Mixing Board
with Andrea Murray

Z.A: How do you understand your work as a producer?

A.M: My work involves weaving sound and text and music to say something that, ideally, is worth hearing – whether it’s an artist interview, a reported feature or even a promotional message. I try to set a high technical and aesthetic standard for everything I do here. Still, I’ll be the first to admit slick production can never compensate for poor writing or dull ideas.

Z.A: What skill or trait do you feel is necessary for production?

A.M: Anyone can learn the basics of audio software in a couple of hours. But it takes years of being attentive to sound, of really listening, to know what to do with it. Having a background in music really helps.

Z.A: Are there any conceptualizations you have made in your time as a producer which underlies your job and the way you work?

A.M: Here are some ideas that have been passed on to me over the years: Pay attention; Give people space to tell their own stories; Show up with your record running; It’s not about you, but you have to be fully present; Having a microphone grants you a kind of access not everyone has, so use it for the benefit of others whenever possible; There’s nothing wrong with a little ear candy once in a while. You’re an invited guest in people’s homes/headphones – try to be good company.

Off-script: I have learned from Andrea Murray that production is also like stage management.  As such, duties include controlling the spotlights on speakers (“actors) and segments (“scenes”) so that (1) the conversation between the speakers is clear without their tendencies as a pairing (to be amicable, adversarial) or as individuals (to respond loudly, to trail off) to get in the way, (2) the progression between segments is smooth and seems to constitute a natural progression in the show, and (3) a back, mid, and fore-ground is established without the listener having to prioritize what to listen to.

Another way I have envisioned the role of a producer is that it is like emceeing. Just as an MC understands that there is a lot of activity during the event they guide and therefore speaks efficiently and interestingly, a producer also realizes that listeners tune in during other activities. Therefore, producers unearth from audio a script which has a through line. That way, every listener, from the attentive to the distracted, can follow along at every point in the show. Andrea did suggest stick shift driving as a comparison, but I don’t know how to drive. Perhaps there are learned and skilled readers out there who can benefit from this comparison.

Epilogue

Although the interviewees may not agree with me that they are performers, I believe that their commitment to their work, demonstrated in their answers and on a daily basis, should prove them wrong. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them in action and wish the station continue success. Break a leg!

earth

Earth Day 2016 – Recycled Music

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” – Charles Caleb Colton.

In celebration of Earth Day 2016, All Classical Portland is highlighting the most green composers and some of the most famously recycled pieces of classical music. Perhaps John Williams comes to mind? How about Copland, Bach or even Elvis Presley?  Some say that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 500 times!

Each All Classical Portland host has put together an example of recycled music in these specially produced segments below which will air throughout the day on Friday, April 22 – Earth Day 2016. Be sure to tune-in!

Do you know of a recycled piece of classical music or do you have a favorite green composer? We want to hear from you!

Join the conversation at the All Classical Portland Facebook page!

 

Brandi Parisi – Rachmaninoff rocks Paganini

 

John Burk – Borodin goes to Broadway

 

Christa Wessel – We got a jazzy Pathétique

 

Ed Goldberg – Chopin is always chasing rainbows

 

Edmund Stone – Star Wars in Holst’s Space

 

John Pitman – Bach to Bach

 

Robert McBride – A lot of la folia

 

Suzanne Nance – Elvis Can’t Help Falling in Amour

 

Suzanne Nance – Carmen rips-off Rachmaninoff

 

Andrea Murray – A Simple Gift for Copland

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Getting Into the Swing Of It: 2016 Spring Drive

Although I participated in the Spring Drive in various capacities, as a go-fer and brief “gatekeeper”, I was initially daunted when tasked with answering phones; I didn’t want to misrepresent All Classical Portland by providing the wrong information and tone to my calls. Yet, after one or two stuttering calls (apologies to those on the receiving end), once the script had settled in my muscle memory, I was able to meander off that path to engage in an improvisational dance I saw countless volunteers, arts partners, and staff members perform on the phones.

It was not only natural to become more relaxed and nimble as I acclimated to the task, but it was necessary to ease up as All Classical Portland listeners are eager, knowledgeable, and very capable of throwing tricky conversation balls. Whenever its spin slipped through my fingers, I found that callers are also patient as I directed their question to the room.

Taking calls was also an enjoyable dance. Callers were just as interested in hearing about my relationship to music as I was in hearing theirs; I reminisced about my summers at Boston University’s camp at Tanglewood and they talked about the moments they weren’t sure they could continue driving with such arresting music on the radio. Three hours is a long time to answer phones. Four is even longer. I didn’t think I could answer phones for 5 ½ hours either, but I was carried away by such generous and invested listeners as those in the All Classical Portland community.

Bell leads Academy

Meet the Musicians: Academy of St Martin in the Fields

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields is one of the world’s most acclaimed and actively recording chamber orchestras. It is also one of the most played ensembles heard on All Classical Portland.

Based in London, England, the ensemble was formed in 1958 by Sir Neville Marriner who was recently named to the Order of the Companions of Honour list by Queen Elizabeth II this past June.

The Order recognizes those who have made substantial achievements in the arts, music, science, politics, literature and religion.

Marriner, a violinist and past member of the London Symphony Orchestra, began conducting in 1969 – the same year he became the Music Director of the renowned Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. According to the Academy’s website, no other orchestra and conductor has recorded more together than Marriner and the Academy.

Marriner conducts Academy

The Academy also has a touring chamber ensemble composed of principal players from each instrument in the orchestra. The ensemble has released more than 30 CDs.

Since 2011, virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell has been the Academy’s Music Director – the only person to hold that position since the orchestra’s inception.

Bell began playing the violin at age 4 and is considered one the era’s most celebrated and talented violinists. He has recorded more than 40 CDs since his first recording on the Decca label when he was 18, according to the Academy’s website.

Bell is also a senior lecturer at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. A fervent supporter of music education, Bell works with Education Through Music to help provide children and teens in inner city areas of America with access to instruments.

Bell, Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields can often be heard on the airwaves of All Classical Portland with their impressively vibrant and varied list of recordings.

Bell will play with the Oregon Symphony February 20-22, 2016, with a program including music by Wagner, Sibelius’s Symphony No. 6 and Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1.

The Academy’s most recent recording with Bell is an all Bach CD from 2014 on the Sony Classical label featuring Bach’s first and second violin concertos, chaconne, air, gavotte en rondeau.

bach

Oregon Music Festivals Bring Diverse and Rich Sounds to the Community

As the summer begins to heat up, so does the music festival scene in Oregon. The Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Northwest are each in the midst of their summer concert series with fresh sounds, artists, and performances.

The Oregon Bach Festival, founded in 1970, is one of Oregon’s and the United States best and most critically acclaimed festivals of Bach’s music. The festival’s mission is to “Inspire the human spirit through the art of music by providing the highest level of performances and educational opportunities.”

On July 8, the festival will present a lecture and concert of Bach’s “St. John Passion” led by Maestro Helmuth Rilling at the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon. The University of Oregon Chamber Choir, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, and Oregon Bach Festival Baroque Orchestra will perform the piece.

The OBF Orchestra will perform the piece again on July 9 at the Hult Center with the Berwick Chorus, soprano Joanne Lunn, mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu, tenor Nicholas Phan, baritone Tyler Duncan, and bass Nathan Berg.

The world-renowned Canadian Brass ensemble will also perform at the festival on July 10. The festival concludes with Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, a true tour de force, conducted by Matthew Halls and played by the OBF orchestra, Berwick Chorus, soprano Nicole Cabell, and mezzo-soprano Roxana Constantinescu. According to the festival’s program notes, Mahler himself said, “A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” Mahler’s second symphony does just that and the festival raves on its website that the symphony also “Relays the story of life: the essential quest for understanding, and coming to terms with life’s challenges.”

To learn more about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.oregonbachfestival.com.

Chamber Music Northwest, now in its 45th season, is one of the largest festivals of its kind. Its mission is to “Inspire listeners through concerts celebrating the richness and diversity of chamber music, performed by artists of the highest caliber.”

The festival is committed to performing diverse chamber works as well as newer 21st century contemporary classical music by premiering a variety of new compositions this summer, many of which are world premieres by Peter Schickele, John Steinmetz, and David Schiff.

Concertgoers are able to attend open rehearsals of festival performances that conclude with a question and answer session, allowing for an intimate setting with the performers and the rich, vibrant music.

The festival is taking on the huge task of performing all of Beethoven’s violin sonatas. The sonatas are being performed in a series of three parts; two remain this summer, including Part II, which includes sonatas 2, 5, 3, and 10, performed by violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Shai Wosner on Thursday, July 9, at Reed College. The final installment in the series concludes with sonatas 1,4, and 9, performed by one of the worlds’ leading solo violinists—Augustin Hadelich—on July 16, at Reed College.

Other notable concerts during the festival include a celebration of the viola’s diversity with Schubert, Schumann and Massenet, Messiaen’s emotionally-charged Quartet for the End of Time, and the festival’s finale celebrating concertos by Bach and Mozart.

To learn more about the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.cmnw.org.

Whether you are a devotee to baroque music, contemporary classical, or a combination of the two, there is plenty of music left to be heard this summer. Tune in to Played In Oregon hosted by Brandi Parisi on All Classical Portland on Sunday’s at 1 p.m. for a chance to hear some of Oregon’s most diverse and vibrant classical music performed by local ensembles.

 

 

James Horner feature photo for blog post

James Horner Leaves Listeners a Lifetime of Music

The American composer James Horner, who composed more than 100 film scores, including “Titanic,” “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart” and “Avatar” passed away June 22 at the age of 61.

Horner was a classically trained musician and scholar, who began playing the piano at age 5. He attended the Royal College of Music in London as a youth and later went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Southern California and his master’s and doctorate at the University of California Los Angeles, where he taught music theory.

Alex Harwood, an American composer, is quoted in an article from The Guardian, stating that “James was one of the last of that old school of composers, like John Williams, with proper classical training and unbelievable music knowledge.”

Horner told the New York Times in an interview in 2000 that, “I [write] it at a desk with pen and paper … I don’t use a computer in writing at all. I’m sort of old-fashioned about it.”

Horner notes that many of his scores were influenced by classical composers including Benjamin Britten, Sergei Prokofiev and Thomas Tallis, many of which are often heard on All Classical Portland.

Horner won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes and received 10 Oscar nominations during his lifetime. His first full length score was for the 1979 film “The Lady in Red” and his first major breakout score came from “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” in 1982.

The success of Horner’s score for “Titanic” as well as his original song “My Heart Will Go On” performed by Celine Dion, for both of which he won an Academy Award, has not been forgotten in the 20 years since he composed it. Many orchestras and vocalists have done recordings of Horner’s work because of its richness and popularity.

His music for “Titanic” focused on Celtic instrumentation in order to reflect the ship’s origins, which was built in Belfast and carried hundreds of Irish natives.

Horner’s music is known and critiqued as music on an “epic scale” with “bolder and more contemporary sounds” and a “subtle and contemplative flare” as critiqued by the New York Times.

James Horner photo for body of the blog post

The Atlantic also noted that Horner’s scores “tended to be more delicate things; rummaging through musical history and diverse cultures.”

James Cameron said jointly with producer Jon Landau from “Avatar” in a BBC News article that, “James’s music affected the heart because his heart was so big.”

Cameron is also quoted in an article from the Hollywood Reporter saying that Horner totally committed himself to “Titanic.” “He blocked out his schedule and sat down and watched maybe 30 hours of raw dailies to absorb the feeling of the film.”

Cameron also mentioned that the orchestra loved Horner and that he worked with a lot of the same musicians and also conducted his own music, which not all composers do.

Horner’s score for Cameron’s 2009 film “Avatar” showcased his experimentation and dedication to providing listeners with exotic sounds that resonated deeply.

Horner said that Avatar was one of the most difficult films he has worked on and the biggest job he has undertaken.

Spencer Kornhaber writes in his article about Horner in The Atlantic that the best film music does two things: “It emphasizes the story on screen and it creates its own parallel story.” Horner’s scores did just that as he was ambitiously driven to produce the highest quality of sounds for film.

Though the world may never again see a composer as gifted, dedicated and thoughtful as Horner, it is left with more than 100 scores for listeners to track down and authors to curate, as many of the great artists who leave us leave with them an astonishing lifetime of work.

Tune in Saturday, July 11, at 2 p.m. for a tribute program to James Horner on The Score with Edmund Stone.

 

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A Parade of Music and Support Mark My First Week at All Classical

During my first week at All Classical Portland, I was able to experience multiple aspects of how the station functions, especially during one of its major fundraisers. Putting faces to the voices I heard during many late nights of studying was a great way to start off my summer at the station.

Sitting in while Jack Allen and Christa Wessel were on air during the fundraiser was especially engaging in seeing how they both coordinated and contributed to one another’s energy, which was audible for listeners. The stunning panoramic view from the second floor of the Hampton Opera Building greatly connects hosts to the city and all that is going on each day. Jack and Christa’s charisma with one other gave volunteers in the adjacent conference room a boost of energy as the phones continued to ring throughout the day. Sharing stories and getting to know those who volunteered during the fundraiser was a great way for me to see how deeply passionate and committed to classical music the community is, as many of the volunteers spent hours answering calls from donors.

Hearing classical music and the voices of on air radio hosts played throughout the office made apparent the connectivity between what listeners are hearing and the staff that creates it.

Meeting Andrea Murray and discussing her show (Northwest Previews), interviewing, audio editing and production were all good starts to my summer of what is sure to be full of great experiences and discussions.

Replying to listener questions during my first day at the station was gratifying since many of them replied back and found the provided information helpful to them. I was also able to learn a lot about The Score, its Facebook page and website as well as Club Mod, which will be invaluable for me throughout the rest of the summer.

Getting my picture taken at the Rose Festival Parade with Governor Kate Brown along with other members of the station was a major highlight of my first week at All Classical Portland.

photo

It was exciting to see how many people knew about the station and recognized their favorite radio hosts. Hearing shouts of “Edmund Stone I love your show!” and “I love All Classical!” were many of the comments heard from a diverse range of excited spectators.

The classic cars and throng of energetic supporters heightened All Classical Portland’s presence in the parade and was noticed by many in attendance, especially many of the parade’s announcers who knew the station and its hosts.

The station’s participation in the parade also represented a post-modern example that there doesn’t have to be a distinction between “high art” and pop culture: people can enjoy and experience both.

Marching to the familiar cinematic tunes of “Indiana Jones,” “Star Wars,” and other popular, well known classical pieces reinforced the notion that classical music is fun and should be enjoyed by all.

Overall, my first week at All Classical Portland was a great one and I look forward to many more this summer.

cuba

Thoughts on Cuba

Our trip to Cuba with Earthbound Expeditions was a success.  The only complaint that I heard was that we were overfed.  I have heard worse.

Of course, Cuba is not like Puerto Rico or St. Martin, or any other island in the Caribbean.  It is fraught, as much a symbol as a place.  Our history with Cuba is tortuous, from the sinking of the Maine in 1898, to the Castro revolution and its aftermath, the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis of 1962, the Mariel boatlift, and Guantanamo.

Whatever your opinion of Cuba, and its government, the island and its people exist in a separate plane from the politics.  Cuba is a Third World nation.  It is poor.  The government is not open and democratic.  The people on the street, and I admit that this is a small and unscientific sample, live their lives.  They shop, they eat ice cream, they do what jobs they can find.

I believe that they are better off now than when Cuba was ruled by Fulgencio Batista, a vile dictator who was a puppet of the Carlos Marcello Mafia family.  The people were not free then, either.  Nostalgia for those times is misplaced.  When Castro threw Batista out, the tyrant fled to Spain with an estimated $70 million, first to the Dominican Republic and his pal, Rafael Trujillo, then to Portugal and Antonio Salazar, finally to Spain and Francisco Franco.  Birds of a feather, and all.

I understand that the Castro government is not what we would wish for the Cuban people.  The embargo we set on Cuba, first by presidential decree in 1962, and then by the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, is cheerfully ignored by most of the world.  It isolates us more than Cuba.

If we imposed the same standards across the range of our diplomatic relations with all other countries, we would have to embargo a great many of our “friends.”

Fidel is old, and not well.  Raul is old, but has shown a flexibility beyond anything his brother demonstrated.  I have no idea who is waiting in the wings to succeed the Castros.  I do know that the small opening of recent US policy is important.  Remember that there are many in Cuba who are as firm in their mistrust of the US as there are Americans who cast a wary eye on Cuba.

I hope that, soon, Cuba joins the nations whose governments we don’t love, but with whom we trade and have diplomatic relations.  We once felt this way about China, and Russia and Viet Nam.  The current policy has produced nothing but mutual animosity and distrust.  Let’s see what a few-hundred-thousand American tourists and businesses can do.

DanielandEd3

Get To Know The Hosts: Ed Goldberg

Tell me about growing up in NYC.

I was born in the Bronx. We moved out when I was six, to Rockaway Beach, New York.  It was 6 years of living probably 500 yards from the surf.  It turned me into a beach kid; I’ve always loved the ocean, always wanted to live near water. I’ve lived in river cities all my life:  New York, Washington, DC.  Even the time I was in Buffalo, there was Lake Erie. The Niagara River is right there.  And of course, Portland.

I lived in Rockaway Beach until I was twelve, then we moved out to Long Island, and I spent most of my youth on Long Island.  Graduated from high school there, went off to college.  When I flunked out of college in 1962, I hung out for a while, and then moved into the city as soon as I could. I lived in Brooklyn, lived in Manhattan, got married.  The first 29 years of my life were spent either in the city or in the suburbs.  Then we moved to Washington, DC. I lived there for 18 years before I moved here.

How did you get started in radio?

I was always a radio kid. When I was a kid, there was no TV, although we did get our first TV in 1947, the first one, as far as I know, on the whole block.  So I was as radio kid from the beginning.  Even after I started watching television like everyone else in America, I was very close to radio.  When NPR came on, which was preceded by certain antecedents that were like NPR, I was right there.  No ads, a lot of news, interesting features.  I always got my music over the radio until I started buying a whole lot of records in my high school years.  I was primarily listening to rock and roll and jazz in those days.

I always wanted to go on the radio. There was no radio program, per se, at the college I went to.  I think there was a college radio station, but nobody I knew worked there or ever listened to it. When I lived in DC, I made several attempts to get on one of the local NPR stations, WAMU. Every time I got a producer interested in using me, he or she would quit or leave the station, and I really wasn’t high on their to-do list.  I did do a lot of guest shots, on college radio like University of Virginia in Charlottesville, a couple of local NPR stations in DC:  WETA and WAMU.   I did a couple of guest things on local jazz radio.  But I wasn’t sitting down in front of a console and doing things on the air.  That didn’t happen until I moved here.

I volunteered at KBOO when I first moved here, say ’92. KBOO was a great place to learn radio, because it was very hands-on in those days.  There was no digital editing, everything was done with razor blades and tape and that kind of thing.  So you got a real feel for the way radio should be made.  Plus, all their equipment was outdated and falling apart, so you had to learn to think quickly on the air.  The best thing about KBOO was that if you screwed up, nobody cared, unless you did something major, like said one of the “magic words” on the air, or broke a piece of equipment because of negligence.  So it was a great place to learn.  I’m very grateful to them.

I was interim station manager for a while.  Then they hired Suzanne White to be station manager. I became friends with her. Then she took the job at KBPS, which is what we were called back then.  She needed someone on weekends at their classical station, so she asked me.  That’s how I started here, as much as 15 years ago.  I was here before Edmund or Robert.  John Pitman was here.

What do you like about radio?

Do you know who Marshall McLuhan was?  He was a theorist and a writer about communication.  He coined the term “global village”, among other things.  He foresaw what we have now, which is being marinated in information 24 hours a day.  In those days, there wasn’t even the idea of an internet.  He foresaw that that’s where we were headed.  He said that TV is a “cool” medium.  That is, you sit there and it washes over you:  pictures, sounds, whatever you need.  Radio, on the other hand, is a “hot” medium.  You have to participate in it.  You have to listen.  And even if you’re getting news or information or talk shows, you are in the conversation.  With music, it’s even more intimate, because you have to pay attention.  There’s nothing between you and the music.  Radio has been a companion to me for as long as I can remember.  Literally, since I was three years old.

You had mentioned buying a lot of records. Do you still collect?

Not so much anymore.  I really have to be impressed by something, or it has to hit one of my niche interests, like European cabaret music from the early 20th century.  I have klezmer music at home.  I have obscure country and western artists from the 30’s and 40’s and 50’s.  Mountain string bands from places like West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.  All of that folky type stuff really interests me.

Any particular favorite musicians or bands come to mind?

I saw Bob Dylan when he first came to New York.  I had all of Dylan’s, Hendrix’s, Rolling Stones’ records.  I liked the garage bands of the 60’s.  The Seeds, The Shadows of Knight, bands like that, they used to knock me out.  This was kids with two weeks of guitar lessons making music, you know?  Anything by Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane.  I found a compilation LP of Armstrong’s early stuff, and discovered the Hot Five and the Hot Seven, bands before he became a star.  That stuff is magic.  It’s stunning, even to this day.

You’re an award-winning novelist of detective fiction.  How many have you written?

I’ve written five novels:  Three under my own name with a detective named Lenny Schneider, and two under a pseudonym, basically as a contractor writer.  I didn’t even own the characters, but I liked them.  The first one was published in 1994.  It was called Served Cold, set in New York.  It was based on a real incident I read about in the newspaper, where a concentration camp survivor was walking down the street in New York one day, and saw one of the concentration camp guards that had tortured him in the camps.  He strangled the guy with his bare hands.  The judge said “Give this guy a medal.  Next case.”  Revenge is always a great hook to put a crime novel on, it really motivates people.  And revenge is the dish that is, of course, “best served cold”, so the title of the book is Served Cold.

I was at a mystery convention in Seattle, at my publisher’s table, and somebody came and collected all the books.  My pal from the publisher was very excited, but I didn’t know what this was about.  I learned a few months later that I won the Shamus award, which is given for the best private investigator novel of the year.  I had never even heard of the award before I won it.

You’ve conducted a lot of interviews over the years.  Who would you love to interview?

I’d love to interview Stephen King.  I don’t even think his books are as good as they used to be.  But this man would sit down and write every single day, even if he never sold a book.  He is driven to write.  I wish I had some of that.  Also, he’s free with his advice and his assistance to other writers.  He’s a genuinely nice man, who wants to tell you how to write a good book.  He’s generous with his time and generous with his work.  All writers should read his book On Writing.

My father died just before I was born, and I would love to interview him.

I would love to interview Mark Twain.  I’d love to go out and have a drink with him.  Drink some bourbon whiskey.  Just to sit down and listen to that man ramble would be okay with me.

And James Joyce.  My two favorite books in the English language are Huckleberry Finn and Ulysses.  So we could all sit around and drink.  I would drink Irish whiskey with Joyce.  Each of these guys was inventing something new every time they put pen to paper.  In the case of Joyce, I still don’t have the guts to read Finnegan’s Wake.  I think Ulysses has an undue reputation for being difficult.  It’s not easy, but it’s not torture to read that book, especially if you have a British English dictionary, or an Oxford Universal.  But in Finnegan’s Wake, he’s inventing some of those words as he goes along.

I’d love to go drinking with Louis Armstrong.  And probably John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy.  I’d like to just sit down and shoot the breeze with them.