Happy New Year! Even if you’re not the type of person who makes New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to offer a suggestion to consider.
As a classical music broadcaster and a musician, I am frequently faced with the question of how to get more people to listen to classical music. For decades, pundits have been raising alarms about the supposed “graying” of the audience, forecasting the demise of symphony orchestras and other performing groups, and lamenting the decrease of classical music on the broadcast airwaves. While these trends are worthy of our attention, I am not quite so cynical about what they mean for the future of classical music. There continues to be a steady stream of new, young performers and ensembles coming onto the scene and there are new and innovative ways to distribute and listen to their artistry. They produce their own performances, retain the rights to their work, perform in new unconventional venues, and recruit their peers to attend their concerts. It’s exciting and inspiring to witness the innovative spirit and entrepreneurship of talented, technologically savvy musicians!
Classical music audiences have always been a little “grayer” than the general public. Maybe it just takes wisdom, experience or a different stage of life to appreciate the art form. Maybe it’s just different for everyone, and takes time for some of us to “age into” embracing the genre. There’s also the obstacle that while some people are open to the idea, they are intimidated by real or imagined fears: how to choose something they will like, what to wear, when to clap. One thing is certain: people who are never exposed to classical music will never learn to love it.
So here is my suggestion for your 2018 resolution: make it your business to introduce someone to the music you love. Be a mentor. Play Sunday Baroque for your niece or grandchild, take your neighbor to a concert, share musical performances on your social media, and do anything else you can think of to make that love connection between the music and someone who hasn’t yet heard it. I have season tickets to a chamber music series that offers vouchers to subscribers to bring a friend for free to many of the season’s concerts. Maybe your favorite ensemble or concert series has something like this too? Find out, and bring someone.
You love music, I love music, we listen to music. Let’s resolve to spread the word and SHARE our love of music with someone new in 2018!
Sunday Baroque listeners frequently contact me to say how much they enjoy the music and how much it means to them. You’ve told me it helps you feel happy, provides companionship, enlightens you, and more. These stories affirm my personal belief in the power of music, and remind me to appreciate how extraordinary that power can be and not take it for granted.
I love to bake. I love to cook. I love to entertain. That’s why, at this time of year, I am in my element!
As the winter holidays approach I get a little giddy as I start stocking up on flour, sugar, butter, cream cheese, sprinkles, walnuts, extracts and other staples of my winter baking pantry. I pull out the recipes employed for decades to bake a variety of holiday goodies, including many that are longtime family traditions.
Favorites include my family’s Hungarian cookies featuring a cream cheese/butter dough, rolled out and filled with walnuts and raisins or apricot or prune. Other must-haves are Italian anginetti cookies — tiny citrusy cakes iced and splashed with cheerful sprinkles, pignoli cookies — a rich almond base studded with pine nuts, baklava, and chocolate Yule log — OH MY!
The funny thing is that I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. (Thankfully!) However, I love to MAKE these goodies, and I love to serve them and give them as gifts, and it’s why I enjoy this time of year so much.
What are your food traditions at this time of year? Do you have recipes lovingly passed down through the generations? How did you learn how to make them? When do you start preparing your holiday treats? What other holiday traditions to you look forward to celebrating? Please take a few minutes away from the kitchen to share your favorites!
At this time of year, I contemplate how grateful I am for my good fortune, including the gift of music my parents gave me. They were not musicians themselves, but they loved music and had many LPs in the house that played frequently, and they sang along and danced. They also had a piano, and when it came time for me to choose a band instrument they willingly rented, then bought, a flute for me. Soon after, they signed me up for private lessons.
My parents also passed along other traditions. Our house was typically where my family celebrated Thanksgiving, and the guest list always included an assortment of friends, too. I’ve embraced that tradition, and this year (as it is most years) the guests around our Thanksgiving table will include a rich and lively blend of family and beloved local friends. This year we will also be joined by some international guests — three of my husband’s coworkers will experience their first American Thanksgiving meal in our home!
Some of my family’s other Thanksgiving “traditions” are more dubious and those are, of course, often the most memorable and the funniest. For example, every year SOMETHING did not get cooked for one reason or another. One year, in a spectacular Thanksgiving fail, my mother put the turkey in the oven and when she checked it a few hours later, she discovered she had not turned the oven on! Another Thanksgiving ritual involved the turkey giblets. Every year my mother dutifully removed the giblets, placed them in a small saucepan and simmered them on the stove top. At the end of the day, as the dishes were being washed, the forgotten saucepan full of desiccated giblets was discovered and promptly discarded. Every. Single. Year.
Then there was the year illness sidelined both my parents, but they still wanted to host the Thanksgiving meal. My siblings and I took over the planning and execution of the meal, with my vegetarian sister claiming dibs on side dishes, and my other sister applying her master baking skills to dessert. As the only one still living in my parents’ home at the time, my default job was preparing the turkey. I was still a teenager and had never done this, and had nobody to advise me. It seemed straightforward enough. What could go wrong? (hint: I stuffed the wrong end of the turkey)
What are you thankful for this year? What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions? Who will be around your holiday table this year? Please share your Thanksgiving stories — heartwarming or funny.
Wishing you a happy, healthy, mishap-free Thanksgiving.
Today is (apparently) World Kindness Day. I was alerted to this by a kind friend, and in looking up the observance I learned it was established on November 13, 1997 by a consortium of humanitarian groups. They wanted to encourage people to do something kind, whether it’s donating time, money or goods to a worthy organization or person, or committing an act of kindness — large or small — for a friend or stranger.
We are marking the 30th anniversary of Sunday Baroque — the program I originated on WSHU Public Radio as a local show, and which we ultimately began distributing nationally 19 years ago. Listeners frequently ask me how I keep Sunday Baroque fresh week after week, especially after so many years. Probably the most important factor is that I retain the same wonder and enthusiasm for sharing music as I did in the beginning — maybe even more so, as I’ve learned and experienced more myself.
If you follow Sunday Baroque on Facebook, you may have seen the recent posts from Germany. I was privileged to travel with a group of music lovers to significant places, including Berlin, Leipzig, Köthen, Arnstadt, and Dresden, where we were steeped in the history, architecture, art and music of the region, including several musical performances.
Not long ago, a listener sent me a message saying how much he enjoys Sunday Baroque. He identified himself as an “old rocker” who grew up in the 70s and 80s but who, nevertheless, finds himself newly captivated by baroque music. It reminded me of an interview I heard recently with travel expert Rick Steves, in which he talked about the “transformational” experience of travel.
The Autumnal Equinox is almost here — Fall begins on Friday, September 22. Baroque era composer and violinist Antonio Vivaldi famously honored each season with a Concerto, and an accompanying sonnet for each. In his AUTUMN Concerto, Vivaldi depicted “The peasant celebrates with song and dance the harvest safely gathered in,” “cooling breezes,” and hunters who “emerge at dawn, ready for the chase.”
This is a milestone week, and I’m feeling sentimental.
On September 6, 1987 I hosted my first radio program! It was a local show on WSHU Public Radio in my hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut and the manager there entrusted me with the responsibility and privilege of being a radio announcer despite my complete lack of experience. Armed with my newly minted degree in music, I had never even set foot in a radio station before that week, and it was truly seat-of-the-pants learning. “Sunday Morning Baroque” was born on that day.
Sunday Baroque Blog
Host Suzanne Bona occasionally shares something interesting with you that is too timely or doesn't quite fit on the weekly broadcast. It might be to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the program, tell you about a terrific new recording, share information about a group's concert tour or latest award, or inform you about the passing of an important musician. Sometimes it might be an observation about the musical scene in general, or a reaction to a news item that relates to the world of music or the arts. Check in with Suzanne's blog to see what she has to say and join the conversation.