Charting a new course away from the charts

There’s a big controversy brewing in the UK. BBC Radio 3, which is their classical music channel, will start a weekly Top 20 countdown of the country’s top-selling classical releases. The charts will be compiled using both CD sales and downloads, so it will accurately reflect buying trends, but that’s not the controversy. The larger question is simply whether or not there’s any point to having classical music ape the trappings of popular music in order to attract listeners.

As Rupert Christiansen wrote in his Telegraph article, Radio 3′s Classical Top 20 will be very dull indeed,

Why must classical music jump up and down and pretend to be what it isn’t?

What depresses me is the way that classical music is constantly chasing after techniques of the pop sector, and ending up, like a paunchy middle-aged man squeezing himself into a pair of tight blue jeans, looking a bit silly and terminally uncool. The interesting kids I know today with open musical minds aren’t the slightest bit interested in the charts: they have the confidence to listen to what they like and explore without reference to such crude and naff indicators as “the Top 20.”

Why can’t [classical music] stand aside from hype and ephemera and the silly business of judging success by numbers, and instead focus on its deepest strength – feeding a deep and serious appetite for art in which quality isn’t judged by its place in a weekly sales list?

Well, we agree. And that’s why WTJU plays the kind of classical music it does. Granted, for some people it can be tough listening. We don’t program our classical music to be an upscale substitute for Muzak — lots of lush, orchestral music with a smattering of pleasing piano renderings for your background listening pleasure..

I doubt most of what we air would show up on a Top 20 chart, but that’s OK. Safe to say all of our announcers have “a deep and serious appetite for art” and program their shows accordingly. Do you have the confidence to listen to what you like and explore outside the tried-and-true? (although we do play a fair amount of that as well)

Well then. Turn your radio dial to 91.1fm, or connect to our Internet feed and let’s go!

More Recent Posts

  • Ralph Vaughan Williams Early Chamber Works

    Ralph Vaughan Williams withdrew many of the works he wrote before 1907. Based on this release, he was too modest. In this collection of early chamber music performed by the London Solists Ensemble, one can tell RVW’s compositional voice isn’t fully formed, but there’s a simple beauty in them, nevertheless. The disc opens with the […]

  • What’s New? FAQ for users

    There have been a lot of small adjustments for this new site and not everything will be intuitive.  Below is a list of changes from the previous website: If the change you’re concerned/curious about isn’t listed, please email Lewis Reining at arnfasta@gmail.com Direct Streaming Links You can always listen through our new player (it also […]

  • Your usual Friday fun … on Thursday as well!

    If you will honor us with your company on WTJU-91.1 FM, this week and next week, you’ll have to put up with me for two morning shows. On Thursday, I’ll be hosting Classical Cafe, and to celebrate the birthday of French composer, Adolphe Adam, the first hour will be filled with ballet music: two suites […]

  • Rotholz Tapestry of American Flute Duos

    The album is titled “American Tapestry,” but it’s no crazy quilt. The four duos for flute and piano Susan Rotholz and Margaret Kampmeier perform fit nicely together. All are tonal after a fashion, giving the program coherence; and yet each differ in character to give the listener real variety. Robert Beaser takes a simple theme […]

  • Introduction from the General Manager

    A lot of people use (and overuse) the word “disruption” when talking about the state of the media today. That in one way or another, the internet is disrupting every legacy media outlet. Newspapers have certainly been hit the hardest in the transition to digital. But radio is changing, too. Streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, […]

  • Antoine Tamestit Performs Hindemith

    This release spans the breadth of Paul Hindemith’s writings for the viola, from solo sonata  through music for viola and orchestra. Hindemith was a violist himself, and his compositions fully realize the instrument’s potential. Violist Antoine Tamestit fully understands these works and their creator, as his interview printed in the booklet shows — as do […]