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

  • George Crumb Spanish and American Songbooks

    Bridge Records’ sixteenth(!) installment of George Crumb’s compositions feature two works that are both similar and different. Sun and Shadow is another collection of songs based on the poetry of Federico García Lorca. Lorca’s work has inspired several Crumb compositions, including the Ancient Voices of Children. This set, subtitled Spanish Songbook II is classic Crumb. […]

  • Aug 30 Gather ‘Round: The Green Boys in DC

    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! This week’s concert features Richmond group, The Green […]

  • The Tudors at Prayer

    Though the theme is somewhat narrowly defined, (English sacred music xx-xx), there’s a surprising amount of variety in this program. Henry VII created the Anglican church, though it had very little change on the sacred music John Tavener and Thomas Tallis composed. His daughter, Mary I, reinstated the Catholic church, and the music of her […]

  • Jazz / Blues Adds – 8/25/2014

    Jazz / Blues Adds – 8/25/2014 Jazz Adds: Akiko – Commencement (AT) : Akiko Tsuruga plays solid B3 with support from Jeff Hamilton (d) and John Hart (g).  This group keeps it tight and compliment each other wonderfully on a range of material including pop standards and originals.  She’s endorsed by Dr. Lonnie Smith and […]

  • WTJX is Back!

    Our student-run station WTJX has returned. WTJX ended its first year in operation with over 120 volunteers and a schedule full of wonderful free-form music shows (and a special programming segment highlighting various members of the UVA community). You can listen live below: http://streams.wtju.net:8000/wtjx-128.mp3 Over the next several weeks, we’ll be integrating WTJX into the […]

  • Roland de Lassus Musical Biography

    You’ll come for the music, but stay for the biography. The third volume of WEM’s excellent series couples first-rate performances of Lassus’ music with an in-depth biography that places that music in context. This volume focuses on the year 1583, when Lassus’ relationship with his sponsor, Albrecht V Duke of Bavaria, was starting to unravel. […]