La Scena Musicale

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Letter to the Editor: Classical Radio

Dear Mr. Wah Keung Chan,

Several years ago I wrote two articles that were published in your publication. Since then, I’ve witnessed the demise of classical music on both the CBC’s TV and Radio Networks. There is now precious little in the way of classical and jazz programming on the TV airwaves. Why aren’t there any live or recorded remotes from such events as the Montréal Jazz Festival and the Festival du Lanaudiere? I have read your articles concerning the CBC Radio Two in the May and June issues of your publication. I recall stating in one of my articles that in 1992, Ms. Margaret Lyons, then a manager of CBC Radio stated: “There is too much classical music on CBC Radio!” Her statement is rapidly becoming true, much to the chagrin of classical music lovers across this country. I confess that I am becoming annoyed at what is being executed by CBC Radio management. As a result I am tuning increasingly to WNED-FM at 94.5 MHX in Buffalo, New York, as well as the various classical and jazz channels on my XM satellite radio tuner. Additionally, I have re-discovered vinyl records. This January I started employment with a new CD re-issue company in Toronto, called Heritage Choice Records, founded by Marc Berstein. The company’s mandate is to re-issue cantoral, opera and classical 78 RPM recordings onto CDs, for sale to any interested parties.

While in Montréal for the Festival du Son et Image in April, I visited Le Colisée du Livre on rue Ste. Catherine E. Their second floor is a treasure trove of old LPs. In Kingston, there is a record shop called Brian’s Record Option at 382 Princess Street. They have more classical and soundtrack records than I’ve seen in a long time. I noticed that vinyl records and vacuum tube amplifiers are making a big comeback in Montreal. I counted no less than seven high-end audio retailers. Toronto electronics retailers seem more oriented to mass-market audio and home theatre installations. I like the warmer sound of vinyl and vacuum tubes, since they evoke memories of my childhood in Montréal. During that era, I started my serious listening habits with classical music. Even though I was bitten by the rock bug for a few years, I’m now returning to classical, jazz and blues music as much of the current popular roster has no interesting material (at least, not to me). Have you ever tried ‘returning’ to vinyl? If so, beware. It can become addictive.

Also, while in Montréal for this year’s Jazz Festival, I noted that Radio Couleur-Jazz had made tremendous improvement in its transmitter coverage. I can now receive a clear signal in Point Claire, about 15 miles from the transmitter on Mount Royal. I am also pleased the CJPX's sister station CJSQ-FM is on the air in Quebec City at 92.7. In Burlington, WVPR-FM 107.9 is now all news and talk programming from NPR and the BBC. This leaves Montrealers with no over-the-air access to NPR classical programming. NPR’s program, Music Through the Night, is always a welcome relief to nighttime listeners. Toronto readers can receive this program over WNED-FM 94.5 in Buffalo, New York. I would recommend that your readers investigate the XM Satellite Radio Service, as it really fills a void left by the demise of classical and jazz programming in CBC’s Radio Two and Espace Musique.

I still look forward to each new edition of your publication. It is still an important link in coverage of jazz and classical music events in Québec and Canada.

Dwight W. Pole
Toronto, Ontario

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