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.
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.
Listening to the news about the effects of Hurricane Harvey this morning, I heard an inspiring story about a Houston businessman who reached out to his neighbors needing shelter. He has a large mattress store, so it was the perfect place for people who needed a safe, dry place to sleep in the aftermath of the devastation. The story was inspiring all on its own, and it warmed my heart even more when the announcer added that the businessman also welcomed people’s pets. Our hearts go out to people devastated by such an unimaginable tragedy. And the tragedy is compounded for someone who must leave behind a beloved pet, so it was especially moving that the big-hearted Houston mattress store owner’s heart is big enough to welcome ALL creatures great and small.
Once upon a time, if you wanted to hear Sunday Baroque, you had to listen to it on your local radio station at the time it was broadcast. Once the broadcast was over, it was lost forever into the ether. But time marches on, and since I began hosting and producing this program, technology has exploded and there are now many high-tech options for listening.
A confession: I am not fond of “Best of ..” lists. I even find them a bit exasperating. They are especially popular at the ends and beginnings of calendar years, but they pop up year round, too. People often ask me for lists of the “best” baroque music or recordings.
The main reason I don’t care for these well-intentioned lists is their attempt to put an objective categorization on what is typically highly subjective material. My ten favorite compositions (or whatever) might not be yours … and why should anyone’s ten (or hundred) favorites of anything be deemed the “best”? Don’t get me wrong — I certainly have my favorites, whether it’s music or food or recreational activities, and I know you do, too. That’s a good thing! But my favorites can change as my experiences widen, my tastes evolve and even as my mood changes.