For many years, we have heard about studies attempting to show a connection between musical training or listening to classical music with extramusical benefits, such as advanced brain function or activation. Remember “Mozart Makes You Smarter” and all the articles urging women to play classical music near their pregnant bellies, to name a few?
Recently I had lunch with a friend who is a generous, longtime public radio supporter. He expressed surprise that more people don’t support their local public radio stations, and we talked about the excuses many listeners make for not contributing. He looked me in the eye and asked, “Do you know why *I* support public radio?” I threw out a few possibilities, and he said, “No! The reason I give is because it FEELS GOOD. That’s it.” He’s right. It does feel good to be part of something you care about. It feels good to have a personal stake in the success and future of something that’s an important part of your daily life.
So, now I’m wondering: do YOU support your local public radio station? If not, why? If so, why? Do you agree with my friend that giving feels good? What would you say to your fellow listeners who don’t support their local stations to try to change their minds?
Confession: I am not an early adopter. I have no aversion to technology at all. In fact, I savor the many conveniences and treats technology can provide, and I enjoy learning new things. But I won’t run out and acquire something just because “everyone” has one; there has to be a demonstrable need or application to convince me. I didn’t even bother with a cell phone until a couple of years ago because I truly did not need one.
As 2016 winds down, I’ve been thinking about musical highlights of this past year. There were some interesting recordings released in 2016 (see the Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift List for a few of my favorites), and I had a chance to interview some renowned musicians including organist and conductor Ton Koopman and lutenist Ronn McFarlane, to name just two.
People often ask how I craft Sunday Baroque each week from the enormous array of options. I start with the general parameters of the baroque era — 1600-1750 — and extend it to include some of the music that led up to those years. There are many composers and compositions and many recordings of their works, including familiar “big names” and music, and less well-known musicians and music of the era. Some of those recordings employ “period” or historical instruments.
Quite a few of our most beloved and familiar Christmas carols have roots in the baroque era or even before. Many of them started as popular secular music such as dances, folk songs, or even drinking songs, with festive words added to go with the holiday theme. One of my favorites is Branle de l’Official from Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchesographie. It’s a dance tune from the 1580s, but you probably know it better as the lively Christmas carol Ding Dong! Merrily on High. In 1924 George Ratcliffe Woodward wrote the familiar words to go with the ancient dance melody. Do you have any favorite Christmas music? Maybe you even sing in a choir and have some hands-on experience guiding your choice of favorites. I’d love to know what music (baroque or otherwise) helps makes Christmas special for you and your family.
This year’s Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift List has a broad variety of recommendations, including a few surprises. There is something for just about every taste — familiar favorites, less well known music, period instruments, modern instruments, and more. And of course, all the performances are top notch.
Thanksgiving is this week and, like most people, I’ve been contemplating the many things for which I am thankful. Good health, a warm and safe home, and enough to eat are, of course, at the top of my list. In addition to these essentials, I’m grateful for my relationship with music.
Every year at this time, I create a list of suggestions for holiday gift giving. Starting November 20th and continuing through December, you can audition some of my recommendations from the annual Sunday Baroque Holiday Gift list.
A quote I mentioned on the November 13 program generated a lot of listener feedback and inquiry! It was #8 from William Byrd’s list of reasons to sing: The better the voyce is, the meeter it is to honour and serve God there-with : and the voyce of man is chiefely to bee imployed to that ende. [original spellings left intact]