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

  • Breadfoot followed by Jason Burke on Something New, Aug 3

    Americana Tin Pan act Breadfoot will invade the WTJU studios this Wednesday afternoon, August 3, around 4:30 (edt) for a half hour session ahead of his gig the following night with Diane Cluck & Juliana Daugherty at The Garage (details). And then around 5:15 that same afternoon, Jason Burke will stop by to do a […]

  • Robert Fuchs Chamber Music Rates a Listen

    The perception of classical music is that its immutable — the great composers have always been considered great, and the works we revere have always been so. Of course the reality is quite different. Take Robert Fuchs, for example. At the turn of the 20th Century he was considered one of the greatest living composers. […]

  • Nikki Talley on Lambeth Live, Aug 5

    Nikki Talley & Jason Sharp will put on the August 5 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to the large lot […]

  • Rob Sheffield talks new book “On Bowie” Hot & Cold Skulls 7/29

    Author and columnist Rob Sheffield joins Hot & Cold Skulls this Friday, 2-4pm, to talk about his latest book on David Bowie, “On Bowie.” On his new book: When the shocking news of his death on January 10, 2016 broke, the outpouring of grief and adulation was immediate and ongoing. Fans around the world and […]

  • WTJU: Free Fall Concert Series Aug 27 – Oct 28

    Thanks to your help, WTJU is once again hosting a 10 week free concert series, this fall, at the IX Art Park. After our pilot run last year, you cast your votes with Levitt Amp and were critical in helping us secure a grant to make it happen again. We’ve been working over the past […]

  • Jon Spear Band on Lambeth Live, July 29

    Award winning blues act The Jon Spear Band will put on the July 29 edition of Lambeth Live (heard each Friday night from 8-9 on WTJU), and you are invited to be part of the studio audience for this FREE concert broadcast! 350 Emmet St N, Charlottesville on ye olde GPS will get you to […]