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

  • jazz adds may 20, 2015

     jesse cook.  one world.  eOne.    Spoiler alert:  i ♥nuevo flamenco;  ever since wtju jazz librarian david lee burned me my first jesse cook cd, and said  i bet you’ll like this.  yes, sir!   this  puppy is  gypsy kings with strings ( multiple violins, cello, viola)  plus musical playmates, mr. sitar and ms. djembe.  and […]

  • May 23 Gather Round: Jim Lauderdale at The Festy (2011)

    Gather ‘Round each Saturday night from 8-9 for WTJU Folk‘s concert series; both archived and live. There will be shows from The Prism Coffeehouse and VA Folklife archives mixed in with some from our announcers’ own libraries. And you never know when a live concert might pop up! Tonight’s concert features a Jim Lauderdale set […]

  • The Flaming Fire: Mary Queen of Scots and Her World

    Tenor and countertenor Ryland Angel and virginal player Dongsok Shin join the viol quartet Parthenia for a introspective look at the musical world of Mary, Queen of Scots. The well-balanced program includes selections native to 16th Century Scotland (both sacred and secular), music from the English court Mary may have heard during her imprisonment, and […]

  • WTJU Returns to Charlottesville City Market, May 23

    WTJU is delighted to announce that Atlantic Weekly returns to the all new and improved Charlottesville City Market this Saturday morning, May 23, between 8 am and noon.  Stop by and say hello!

  • Martin Fröst – Nordic Concertos

    Martin Fröst presents an interesting program of Nordic clarinet concertos that covers a lot of ground with just four works. The two contemporary works were composed for Fröst and differ greatly in style. The two older works call out important Nordic composers, and also differ in style. Anders Hillborg’s 1998 Clarinet Concerto (Peacock Tales) is a […]

  • WTJU Presents Pierre Bensusan at The Southern Cafe & Music Hall, May 28

    WTJU is delighted to present Pierre Bensusan at The Southern Cafe and Music Hall on Thursday, May 28th.  As a special treat, Pierre will also do a short acoustic set during the 6-8 pm happy hour.  The concert will start at 8 pm.  For additional details, visit TheSouthernCville.com, or of course wtju.net. “The way the […]