A Classical Resurgence at WTJU
Each December WTJU has filled its airwaves with classical music, celebrating the station’s long history of playing and promoting artists from across centuries, around the world, and highlighting the extraordinary talent here in Charlottesville during the annual Classical Music Marathon.
This year, according to General Manager Nathan Moore, WTJU has rededicated itself to these efforts, starting every weekday with classical music and featuring an interview a day with local classical musicians. “We feel like starting the day in this way is consistent with the values of classical music, and is a beautiful, serene, and sometimes challenging and thoughtful way to start your day. The commitment extends throughout each weekday, Moore said, including a daily interview with a local classical musician, in addition to another daily classical segment.
Earlier this month, WTJU took its classical focus beyond the airwaves and right to the street of Charlottesville with “Unsilent Night,” a special event in which community members came together for a socially distanced walk from IX Art Park to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall and back, each “playing” a piece composed specifically by New York composer Phil Kline in 1992. The way it works is that each participant is given one of four parts of the piece to play on a mobile music device, creating what Kline called a city-block-long stereo system.” The piece has now been performed in 101 cities across four continents.
“One of our talented and passionate hosts, Brian Simalchik, came to me with this idea, and I loved it,” Moore said. “One thing that struck me as really cool about it was that in radio, we are typically listening by ourselves, yet the communal experiences of music are so key to its power and its enjoyment.” “That power had been dimmed in the midst of the pandemic,” Moore added, “and this was a great way to bring the community together in a safe and distanced way.”
The effort, in addition to being a unique experience for participants and those who encounter them through the course of the moving musical feast, is something at the core of WTJU’s mission, Moore added. “If you look at our mission statement, it doesn’t actually mention radio explicitly, We use radio as our primary tool, but our overall mission is to bring the community together through excellent music and conversations and the kinds of shared musical experiences we present in our Freefall concert series, on the radio, and in events like this. Everybody needs creative space. Every person needs art in their lives. It is part of what makes us human. And the fact that we can do things like this creatively in our town is a privilege and all of us at WTJU love to do it.”
This year's Classical Marathon aired Dec 7-13, but listeners can hear all the shows at the WTJU archives: https://www.wtju.net/recent-shows/. Past shows are available for two weeks from their air date.