BETA Welcome to the classical-radio-friendly new-music wiki! For classical-radio programmers in the US
You're a classical radio producer who has to worry about ratings as well as mission, and you broadcast on weekdays. You want to rotate in some new music - that is, from the last two or three decades, but.... what? Lists of the greatest works of the last 30 years will probably not help you much. Most of it will drive listeners away.
Below is the beginning of a wiki list with - eventually, I hope - comments and audio clips. Why bother? Because I figure that a lot of good choices fall under the radar - if a piece gets recorded it's on an obscure label with little publicity. This page is meant to serve as collective radar.
Skip this paragraph if you're already on board, but for you new-music types, regarding that ratings things: most of our listeners are doing something else as we broadcast - waking up, getting ready to go to work, commuting, working at the office, managing their finances, making dinner, etc. Classical radio is more often a companion in the background than a primary focus. It can't scream for attention. What I'm looking for is recent (post-1970) classical music that fits easily into the demands of modern classical broadcasting. A lot of the music of the past was written for a particulrar use: Bach's cantatas fit perfectly into the Lutheran service of that particular liturgical day; Mozart's divertimentos were written to be background for aristocratic parties; Brahms's symphonies fit ideally the modern concert hall experience - these pieces were written for their habitat. We, however, must find music written for other purposes that fit into OUR habitat - and not on a specialized new-music hour late on Saturday night, but in regular weekday dayparts.
Some new music generally doesn't work in today's classical-radio real-world: (1) atonal, harsh, and dissonant textures, which drive listeners over to the NPR station or satellite or to silence - whatever you may think about that, it's just reality; (2) "pop culture" sounds drive them away - most of our listeners come to use wanting to hear "classical" sounds. That rules out marketing-driven pop crossover, but it also excludes a lot of the new music I personally love, e.g., much of Steve Reich won't work in an ordinary classical daypart. Michael Daugherty comes to mind, too, and some of John Adams.
Now, it may work well in concert halls. I am talking only about mainstream classical radio that needs an audience. In fact, Im NOT asking for the greatest works of the last decades some of which I love but couldnt play during my usual shifts. The new-music people I know might scoff at this list - but their criteria are different from ours. Our question is NOT "Whats the greatest music of the last three decades?" Its "What pieces get listeners calling to find out where to buy the recording?" and - more basically - what pieces DONt get them switching off the station.
The above are heuristics, not rules. I could add observations (See how well mystical minimalism works? And 10 out of 17 composers who jumped to my mind are American - is that just because I'm in Iowa, or am I right that composers in the US are much more concerned these days about accessibility and reaching audiences than, say, composers in Germany?). But again, just heuristics. Below are a few pieces that immediately come to mind that I've found to work well in my daypart; I hope to hear from others about many more pieces that also fit the purpose. Just send an email to newmusicradio at google and I'll post it - until I figure out how to create a free wiki at hostmonster.
Some Music by Living Composers that Works in Classical Radio Weekday Dayparts - What else works for you?
John Adams Mother of the Man, the beautiful slow movement of his Naïve and Sentimental Music LA Philharmonic, Salonen*
Gavin Bryars - "Les Fiancailles" - Bryars Ensemble/Bryars; Philips 473 296
Connie Ellison "Blackberry Winter" Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Warner
Eric Ewazen Down a River of Time; "Roaring Fork Quintet"; "Ballade"; etc.
Philip Glass "Company" - Kremerata Baltica, ECM
Srul Irving Glick - A Night at Heavens Gate Israelievitch Duo, Fleur de Son; "The Klezmer's Wedding"
Jennifer Higdon "Blue Cathedral" Atlanta SO/ Spano, Telarc
Aaron Jay Kernis - Musica Celestis Minnesota/ Oue; Virgin
Morten Lauridsen - "Dirait-on"; "O Magnum Mysterium"; etc.
Andrew March - "Marine - à travers les arbres"- LSO/Harding, EMI [Note: this neo-impressionist tone poem won the first Masterprize Competition in 1998 - the first new-music competition in which not only professional judges, but also radio listeners voted for their favorites, made available in advance on a CD. This piece won the listeners' vote handily, but the victory led to controversy in the new-music world over the Masterprize and its dumbing down of music. Masterprize abashedly revised the criteria, and the winners since then have NOT been radio-friendly. See what I mean?)
Vladimir Martynov - Come in Kremerata Baltica, ECM
Arvo Part - "Spiegel im Spiegel"; "Fratres"
Tobias Picker - Old and Lost Rivers Eschenbach, Virgin
Einojuhani Rautavaara - Symphony no 7; Cantus Arcticus; Fiddlers; The Isle of Bliss
Ned Rorem - selected movements from the Flute Concerto, Book of Hours, et al.*
Peter Schulthorpe - Calmo from his Piano Concerto; etc.
Christopher Theofanidis "Rainbow Body" Atlanta SO/Spano, Telarc
Theo Verbey - Pavane oubliee- Netherlands Radio
* Note: I have no hesitation about excerpting new music. Listeners don't know the pieces at all, so nobody feels you've violated the integrity of the work (again, it's probably used as background, and the texture and feeling matter more than the structure). So if there's one movement out of five that fits the sound of our station, I play just that one.