Monday, September 28, 2020

Christ Church Cathedral

By Elaine Diehl - 

Christ Church Cathedral, founded in Downtown Cincinnati in 1817 is a vibrant Episcopal community that strives to be a center of compassion and justice that translates into action. Music, both sacred and secular, is a huge element of the Cathedral’s Mission.

Collegium Cincinnati, Handbell choirs, Choral Scholars, Organ Recitals, Music Live at Lunch, Choral Evensong, an annual performance of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the Sunday before Christmas and the popular Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival – these are just some of the musical happenings at Christ Church Cathedral.

Dr. Stephan Casurella is the Cathedral’s Director of Music and he phoned the studio to talk about this year’s Musical Offerings:

Monday, September 21, 2020

Born from the Community: The Story of WGUC's Founding

September 21, 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of WGUC signing on at 90.9 megahertz on the FM dial.

Since that day, WGUC has been broadcasting classical music to the Greater Cincinnati community and beyond without fail.

The station has played a vital role in the community over those sixty years and will continue to do so for many years to come.

But, do you know that the station was born out of a vision that sprung directly from the community itself? Here is its story as documented by founder Bruce Petrie, Sr. in his history of the station written for the Cincinnati Historical Bulletin, Summer 1981.

Cincinnati, in the late 1950's, offered very little listening opportunities for classical music fans. Those who could afford to attend the symphony or opera, or who had their own record collection, had options. But those who looked to their radio hoping to listen to classical music every day did not.

Daniel Ransohoff, Bruce Petrie and Addison Lanier, local classical music enthusiasts and members of the Queen City Association, worked to bring classical music to the local radio dial. They served as the Association's committee in charge of finding a solution. They first worked to bring WOSU (via a repeater station) to the city. At the time, WOSU was broadcasting 48 hours of classical music during peak times.

Publicity from the Association's efforts bore fruit - over 1500 postcards and letters were received in support of bringing classical music and fine arts broadcasting to the city.

Not long after, Ransohoff discussed the idea with Walter Langsam, President of the University of Cincinnati, in the hope that the university would be interested. However, to his regret, he learned that such a project was not likely given the many other demands on the University's resources at that time.

Through it all the dream persisted. The founders did not tire in their efforts to attain their goal. By October 1959, after almost three years of meetings, explorations and discussion, the University of Cincinnati, after much persuasion and investigation, changed their position and indicated an interest in obtaining an FM license.

On November 3, 1959, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees decided to establish an FM radio station and apply to the FCC for an FM license.

On December 30, 1959, the FCC announced that the University of Cincinnati had been granted a license to operate WGUC on 90.9 megacycles.

How were the call letters, WGUC, chosen?

On September 21, 1960, at 4:00 pm, almost three full years after the Queen City Association launched its campaign, radio station WGUC went on the air. And the rest, as they say, is history – a history of accomplishment, growth, inspiration, and joy; plus, some failure and heartache too.

UC's chimes ring out and chief announcer George Brengel announces the birth of WGUC

Carolyn Watts talking about listening to the first day of WGUC

The community brought WGUC to life. The community nurtured and sustained it. The community is what will keep WGUC strong and vital well into the future. Thank you!

What has WGUC meant to you? What do you remember about your first experiences with WGUC or its programming through the years? Tell us in the comments below.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Bach-Packing with Simone Dinnerstein, Schubert and Glass

Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

By Elaine Diehl

On September 18, pianist Simone Dinnerstein will release her new album, A Character Of Quiet to on Orange Mountain Music.

She recorded the album in her Brooklyn home, with her long-time engineer and producer, Adam Abeshouse. The album revisits a program she had created for a recital series some years ago, wherein she juxtaposes the music of Franz Schubert and Philip Glass.

Simone Dinnerstein phoned to talk about the album, her life during lockdown and more:

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Original Rock Star

Portrait of Franz Liszt by Wilhelm von Kaulbach

What’s the first name you think of when you hear the term “Rock Star”? Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Joan Jett? You have to admit the list is pretty long… What about the first Rockstar?

We’ve got to go WAY back for the answer: Franz Liszt.

Huh? You mean the guy who wrote and played Piano Concertos? HE DIDN’T EVEN PLAY THE GUITAR!

Yes. Franz “Rock Your Socks Off” Liszt.

Over 200 years ago, he was tearing up the “polite” salons and concert halls with performances that drove audiences wild. Women would literally attack him: tearing bits of his clothing, fighting over broken piano strings and locks of his shoulder-length hair, even taking his cigar butts as souvenirs!

Yes, he was known as a “good looking” fellow but it was his revolutionary performances that really set the crowds ablaze. At the time, it was considered “poor taste” to play from memory, to consider that a solo pianist could hold an audience’s attention, or to even FACE the audience when you played.

He flipped all of those ideas (and more) upside down. His head whipping around while he played, his long hair flying, beads of sweat shooting into the crowd… He was the first performer to stride out from the wings of the concert hall to take his seat at the piano. He captured the audience with his performance in ways that the music alone never could.

His biographer Dr Oliver Hilmes wrote, “He was the first to perform the whole of the known keyboard repertory from Bach to his contemporary Chopin and he did so, moreover, from memory. As a composer and orchestrator, too, he was a revolutionary, writing pioneering works that opened up whole new worlds of expression.”

So, the next time you’re listening to his Hungarian Rhapsody on 90.9 WGUC, feel free to crank up the volume and “jam” out... I’m sure he wouldn’t want it any other way.

-Andy Ellis