Is internet radio the best thing for classical music?

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If this article from San Francisco Classical Voice is any indication, yes it is.

I ran across this at the same time City Paper ran a small item about Medici.tv (there's a link below), a new kind of video interface that allows you to watch concerts and recitals from acclaimed festivals in Europe. It's very cool, and if you have a thing for this kind of thing, I suggest you check it out.

SFCV, meanwhile, ran this piece about an orchestral musician's two-years reawakening to the experience of listening to classical music on the "radio" again. After his local analog stations switched formats to bluegrass and what not, he thought perhaps he'd never hear it again. But now, with such bounty available on the internet, from anywhere in the world, he wonders what he's going to do with all the CDs he has, they're so limiting. The article contains a list (below) of all the many ways the author has been experiencing for two year this new age of classical music distribution.

Favorite Concert Broadcasts and Rebroadcast Sources on the Internet.

European Stations

  • Medici.tv is not a radio station per se, but a free video-on-demand service for a limited time. It hosts the Verbier Festival (great pianists and chamber music, in addition to the young, exciting orchestra), Aspen Music Festival, and Aix-en-Provence through September.
  • Swedish Radio P2 is one of the best, with strong lieder and choral programming, and it also draws from other services. Klassisk förmiddag, P2 Live Opera, P2 Live Nu!, and P2 Live Klassisk have live programming. Like almost every European station, they have Saturday opera too. Archives are listed by show.
  • Magyar Radio Bartók includes a three-week archive with mediocre sound, but has excellent streaming audio for current programs. The 11 p.m. new music show often has interesting Hungarian repertoire. Live concerts are sprinkled throughout the day. See here for schedule and archive listings.
  • Netherlands Radio 4 has great programming and sound throughout the day. Live highlights include Middagconcert and Avondconcert — two to three hours drawn from concerts around the world, every day, with a healthy dose of chamber music, opera, and lieder in addition to standard orchestral offerings and occasional avant-garde pieces. And if you somehow can’t get enough of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on Radio 4, head over to the orchestra’s Web site, where they restream their recent concerts 24/7. You can start a page for archive listing.
  • BBC Radio 3 is the gold standard and is perpetually recycled throughout the world. BBC highlights include the Lunchtime Concerts (Live from Wigmore Hall), with first-rank chamber ensembles, pianists, and singers. “Afternoons on 3″ tends to recycle concerts from around the U.K. and the world, but with varied repertoire; and “Performance on 3″ is the evening concert show. “Hear and Now” has contemporary music, sometimes live Saturday evenings. Keep an eye out for “New Generation” artists recitals as well. See here for an index of shows.
  • Czech Radio Vltava has performances from the Czech Radio Symphony and Prague Symphony almost daily, often featuring obscure Czech composers new and old, plus occasional Czech Philharmonic broadcasts as part of their evening concerts. See the streaming audio portal and the schedule page.
  • ABC — the Australian one — offers early afternoon and evening shows that draw from live concerts around the world with, naturally, a healthy dose of excellent Australian performers.
  • Italian Radio (RAI) 3 has a great weekend historical survey show (Esercizi di memoria) with about five hours of archival radio broadcasts. It also has two or three concert-based shows daily, sometimes recycled from other countries but mostly based on Italian concerts. However, the sound is relatively low quality.

    See here for live music listings.

  • Radio France Musique is strong in every repertoire category, with a morning and evening concert every day. These broadcasts are among the best places to hear young pianists, chamber ensembles, lieder, new music, and baroque opera, not to mention good standard orchestral concerts. See here for program listings.
  • Klara, a Belgian station, mostly recycles from other networks, but their afternoon show “Ludwig” (“Concert” on Saturdays) is a good way to catch up on missed opportunities. See the program listing and the Windows Media Radio Player.
  • Ö1 of Austria has the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera and Salzburg Festivals. These concerts figure frequently in the show “Apropos Klassik.” See here for the program listing.
  • Bayerischer Rundfunk BR 4 (Bavarian Radio). Of the German networks, Bavarian Radio stands out for its consistently fine programming and decent sound. The broadcasting day begins with a midmorning show and moves on to an afternoon concert, evening concert, and late evening new music and/or choral offering. Occasional concert gems crop up in the German overnight show as well.
  • Polskie Radio Dwójka features little-known Polish repertoire daily early in the morning on the show “Fantazja polska”; otherwise some concerts are from Poland and others recycled from elsewhere.

    See the program listing and streaming audio.

U.S. Stations

  • WCLV Cleveland Orchestra on Saturday and Sunday, plus some special concerts on Fridays. They also have concerts from the local Conservatory.
  • WFMT. In addition to great programming, they syndicate most of the best live concert series in the U.S.
  • WXXI. Reasonably good streaming sound and the usual syndicated concert series, plus the Rochester Philharmonic.
  • WUOT. Good sound and the usual syndicated concert series, plus the Knoxville and Nashville symphonies.
  • WKAR. Although they are no longer a classical station, they still broadcast the Detroit Symphony part of the year.
  • KWAX. Consistently the best-sounding U.S. station, with a full docket of syndicated concert series, plus their own “Live in Oregon” show.
  • KUAT Operated out of the University of Arizona, it is a good-sounding station with a full offering of syndicated concerts.
  • Wisconsin Public Radio doesn’t feature much music, but they do originate the Milwaukee Symphony series.
  • Minnesota Public Radio has the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and they originate St. Paul Sunday. Good streaming quality.
  • Georgia Public Radio. In season, the Atlanta Symphony broadcasts emanate from here.
  • WGBH. A great station with only sporadic musical offerings, but they do have chamber concerts in their studios, available for podcast in decent sound, and some Boston Symphony concerts in relatively poor sound. For the BSO, which currently isn’t syndicated, WCRB is one of the better-sounding options.
  • KDFC. Indispensible for the San Francisco Symphony series on Tuesdays, but these are syndicated by WCLV to many stations later.
  • KUSC. Good sound and the Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts are two reasons to follow their audio stream.
  • KRCB. A convenient destination for West Coast listeners of Performance Today at 9 a.m. They also have a small archive of North Bay chamber concerts from their Sunday series.
  • KALW. Occasional Performing Arts Specials, plus Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
  • See here for the Berkeley Symphony broadcast schedule.
  • American Public Media. This is not a radio station, but a source and archive for widely syndicated shows like SymphonyCast, St. Paul Sunday, and Performance Today.

Some Other Standout Internet Radio Sources

Broadcasts based on recordings may miss the special qualities of live performances, but some shows have particularly stimulating programming nonetheless. Three favorites are a good starting point:

  • Music from Other Minds.
  • Classical Discoveries on WPRB. On Wednesdays Marvin Rosen explores neglected 20th-century composers and obscure early music and Baroque pieces. On Fridays he looks at the avant-garde.
  • Haydn House. Pierre Paquin, a seasoned Boston audio engineer, privately remasters out-of-print recordings and streams them 24/7 — all of one composer, of course.

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