One of the eleven most exciting departments at WKCR, Classical is a broad and exciting department, encompassing most of the western art music you can find from the canyons to the stars and anywhere in between. If you thought “Transfigured Night” was just for New Music, think again. Some quantitative data: Classical Department responsible for ~1/7 of programming, 2/3 general, 1/3 specifically focusing on aspects of the periphery of the classical zone: Early Music (who doesn’t want to listen to Hildegard of Bingen on his Friday morning?), Opera, and J.S. Bach. Special classical programming rears its head in December, when KCR features 7 to 10 days of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (for which most of the 8 million New York residents drink from the fountain of “time-off-work” plus “amphetamines,” i.e. BachFest is a popular and exhilarating highlight of the holiday season for all). As with the other illustrious departments, members of KCR Classical work to pollinate the New York classical scene through its relationships with some of the scene’s most notable individuals, including Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, the Kronos Quartet, Peter Wispelwey, Michael Gordon, So Percussion, and Tristan Murail.
More generally, philosophical undercurrents of KCR Classical can be analogized through some of the philosophical undercurrents of the classical composers themselves. Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern strived to “emancipate the dissonance.” Olivier Messiaen wanted to represent the glory of god and the melodies of birds. J.S. Bach standardized the techniques of western harmony and counterpoint, leading us into the “classical”-period-proper. Similarly, programmers in KCR Classical are driven by differing, and occasionally dissonant internal motivations. Differences are welcomed and encouraged with open arms.
In conclusion, a good joke: What’s the difference between Raisin Bran and Johannes Brahms?