Archives for posts with tag: CBC

Earlier this year I got to work with the outstanding food journalist Chris Nuttall-Smith on the pilot for a new CBC podcast. It officially launched September 27, and I’m thrilled to see it out in the world (you can subscribe here).

It’s a nerdy, quirky deep dive into everyday food. I won’t try to do better than the description from the official website, which describes The Fridge Light as “an obsessive, fascinating journey through the hidden stories of the things we eat. Each episode chows down on one food phenomenon, revealing the unexpected cultural ingredients. Part science, part business, part psychology.”

I think it’s great, and I’m not just saying that because I helped produce it. Nuttall-Smith is a helluva fine journalist: curious, thorough and dogged, an expert in his field – and, on top of it, hilarious as hell off the cuff.

Listen to Episode 1 (Dark Meat/White Meat) or Episode 2 (One Word: Yeasts) and make sure to subscribe to hear future episodes.

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Music has always been used to help us tell stories. Think of incidental music in plays, the music in songs, musicals and operas; and soundtracks to movies and video games.

But music also tells its own stories. 

Each instrument has such a distinctive voice – and I figure, if you mix together the most famous melodies that have been written for a particular instrument, you’ll find a fantastical character emerges – a character with a magical story to tell.

Starting this weekend on CBC Music and on In Concert, the show I host on CBC Radio 2, the instruments of the orchestra come to life on Orchestral Tales, a brand new season of The Signature Series. I’m pretty excited to share this – I’ve been working hard on this along with Denise Ball, the executive producer of In Concert.

On the previous seasons of the Signature Series, you met personalities based on the major and minor key signatures.

On Orchestral Tales, you’ll meet vivid characters inspired by the instruments of the orchestra.

Follow along here – new tales will be published every Friday for the next ten weeks, starting on Friday, January 6th.

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There are few places right now that have the electricity and the energy that is flowing through the city of Shanghai.

Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of the incredible skyline that’s sprung up in record time. It’s futuristic and sleek: right out of a science fiction movie. If there is a place to be in the 21st century, it feels like it’s on the streets of Shanghai.

In 2015, I was lucky enough to attend the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival at the behest of the WFMT Radio Network. When I came back, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work on Shanghai Spring: an 8-part radio series about classical music in China featuring concert performances from Shanghai and mini-documentaries about life and music in the city.

On Shanghai Spring, you’ll get a front row seat at the Shanghai Spring Festival and get a look at bustling Shanghai in all its glory.

You’ll also be transported to rip-roaring, cosmopolitan 1920s Shanghai, when the seeds of Western classical music began to take hold in China. And you’ll get a glimpse of Chinese culture, beyond dragon boats and fortune cookies — a chance to see the real China through the lens of classical music.

Part 1 airs this Sunday on my CBC Radio 2 show, In Concert, and you can also hear it here.

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The Nerve
A few years ago, Chris Brookes, Jowi Taylor and I produced a six-part series for CBC Radio called The Nerve: Music and the Human Experience. It was a follow-up to our Peabody-Award-winning series The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music, and it takes a look at how music is a facet of every part of our lives, from human evolution, to war and peace, to religion and personal identity.

This month, Radio New Zealand National is rebroadcasting The Nerve in its entirety, on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm New Zealand time. (That’s 5pm Pacific time and 8pm Eastern time in North America on Fridays and Saturdays.) You can listen at those times HERE.

Music is found in every culture worldwide. It’s our constant companion, from birth through childhood, love, marriage and death. It has a starring role on every stage of the great human drama – whether we are at war or at prayer, by ourselves or with others, happy or sad – music is there. But does it really have a purpose? Where does it come from? And why does it have such power over our hearts and minds?

The Nerve asks those questions, featuring the voices and thoughts of top musicians and thinkers, from Zakir Hussain to Howard Shore to Richard Dawkins and more.

Episodes 1 and 2 aired last weekend – but you can listen to Episode 1, “Wired for Sound: Music and the Brain” right here:

In 2009, Episode 1 of The Nerve was Shortlisted for the Prix Italia in the Work on Music category. The Nerve as a series was awarded two Silver Medals at the 2009 New York Festivals of Radio Programming in the Culture & the Arts and Best Editing categories.

Another instalment in The Signature Series:

B minor: The Dark Romantic

Also known as:
The Gloomy Gus.
The Pessimist.

B minors you might know:
Werther from Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther.
Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby.
Cliff Barnes from Dallas.

The notes: B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G – A♯ – B.

Number of sharps: two.

Relative major: D major.

What they said about B minor in the 18th and 19th centuries:
“Banished from music of good taste.” – Francesco Galeazzi, 1796

“Bitter, gloomy lamentation, on account of hard suffering … in these tones the shocked soul looks around exhausted and almost without hope.” – J. A. Schrader, 1827

More G minor listening:
The Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre by Richard Wagner.

Cello Concerto by Antonín Dvořák.

The Canadian connection:
“Robots” by Dan Mangan.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuriesby Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

 

Another instalment in The Signature Series:

D major: Miss Congeniality

Also known as:
The Workaholic.
The Homecoming Queen.

D majors you might know:
The Goddess Athena from Greek mythology.
Oprah Winfrey.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The notes: D – E – F♯ – G – A – B – C♯ – D.

Number of sharps: two.

Relative minor: B minor.

What they said about D major in the 18th century:
“The key of triumph, of Hallelujahs, of war-cries, of victory-rejoicing.” – Christian Schubart, 1784

“Enflames the heart. The spirit … is roused to impudent, joyful, even to somewhat boisterous songs of praise. Even the god of thunder has a claim to this key.” – Georg Joseph Vogler, 1779

More D major listening:
The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss, Jr.

Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky.

The Canadian connection:
“Past in Present” by Feist.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, by Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

This Sunday I’m lucky enough to begin a fantastic gig: hosting CBC Radio 2’s weekly classical music performance program, In Concert.

Preparing tomorrow’s show put me in mind of summer camp – and thus conjured up all kinds of feelings and recollections.

Once upon a time there was a camp called Toronto Music Camp that happened every June, right at the end of the school year on the shores of Lake Couchiching, near Orillia, Ontario. I spent five years there as a camp counselor. I think it still exists, but these days it’s called Music by the Lake.

TMC wasn’t all fun and games (although there were many of those, too) – it was a lot of hard work – hours of rehearsal every day. The large ensembles used to rehearse in a cavernous barn with a tin roof. I remember one year we were playing the Planets by Gustav Holst and it seemed as though our endless repetition of the first eight bars of section J provoked Mars, Bringer of War to open the heavens upon our heads. The sound of the rain thundering on the roof made it impossible for us to continue.

Another year it was so cold, the coldest June in decades, that we had to light as many candles as we could find just to stay warm in the 19th-century farmhouse where the chamber ensembles rehearsed.

Those were five of the happiest fortnights of my adolescence. In those days it felt like there was TMC, and the rest of the year until the next TMC – two different levels of existence.

The mother of all musical summer camps in this country is a residency with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada – and I think that the instant camaraderie of the camp experience must have something to do with the magic that the NYOC produces year in and year out. This Sunday you can hear a fabulous concert by the NYOC on In Concert, beginning at 11 am in all Canadian time zones (except 11:30 in Newfoundland) on CBC Radio 2 or online at cbcmusic.ca.

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For the next little while, I’m excited to be sharing a project I’ve been working on called The Signature Series.

Here’s how it works:

1. Select a musical key.
2. Gather together the most famous melodies composed in that key.
3. Mash up.
4. Meet the person behind the key.

To get to know G minor, click on the orange play button. Follow along with the pop-up comments to find out what composition is playing.

G minor: The Contrarian

Also known as:
The Moody Teenager.
The Complicated Man.

G minors you might know:
Captain Ahab from Moby Dick.
Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.
Pete Campbell from Mad Men.

The notes: G – A – B♭ – C – D – E♭ – F♯ – G.

Number of flats: two.

Relative major: B-flat major.

What they said about G minor in the 18th century:
“Discontent, uneasiness, worry about a failed scheme; bad-tempered gnashing of teeth; in a word: resentment and dislike.” – Christian Schubart, 1784

“It is suited to frenzy, despair, agitation.” – Francesco Galeazzi, 1796

More G minor listening:
Dido’s Lament from Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell.

Der Erlkönig by Franz Schubert.

The Canadian connection:
“Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers.

Note: Historical quotes and translations from A History of Key Characteristics in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, by Rita Steblin, UMI Research Press (1983).

 

RPM PODCAST WINS UNITED NATIONS GOLD MEDAL

The audio podcast “Electric Pow Wow” from the RPM Podcast series, produced by Paolo Pietropaolo for MBM Digital, has been awarded the United Nations DPI Gold Medal at the New York Festivals Radio Program and Promotion Awards.

In addition to this special distinction, “Electric Pow Wow” was also awarded a Silver Medal in the Audio Podcast – Culture & the Arts category. As well, “Atheist Pastors”, an episode of the CBC Radio program Tapestry with mix and sound design by Pietropaolo, was awarded a Gold Medal in the Religious Programs category.

On the RPM Podcast, Indigenous music and culture meet in sound. Each episode gives voice to the music, stories, and experiences of Indigenous artists from around the world by exploring a place, idea, or tradition that inspires Indigenous songs and people. “Electric Pow Wow” explores how the pow wow is getting plugged in, mashed up and remixed by 21st century artists.

The RPM Podcast is hosted by Ron Dean Harris (aka Ostwelve), and produced by Pietropaolo, with executive producer Lynn Booth, creative producer Jarrett Martineau, and production manager Christa Couture at Make Believe Media Inc. in Vancouver.

“Atheist Pastors” is hosted by Mary Hynes and was produced for CBC Radio by Tina Pittaway and Nicola Luksic, with mix and sound design by Pietropaolo.

This marks the 7th consecutive year that Pietropaolo’s work has been recognized at the New York Festivals. In all, his productions have received seven Gold Medals, five Silver Medals and one Grand Award (for Best in Festival) during that time.

The New York Festivals have recognized the world’s best work in radio and audio broadcasting for the past 55 years, with winning programs chosen by an international group of judges. Programs from 27 countries competed in this year’s edition.

The United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) Awards, juried separately from the festival by members of the United Nations, honour programming that “best exemplifies the aims and ideals of the United Nations.”

Winners were unveiled at a ceremony in New York on June 18, 2012.

The year I moved to Vancouver, I arrived in the middle of November. It was dark and gloomy and dreary and rainy. I did a lot of walking that month, to get to know my new neighbourhood and my new city, and my constant companion was Rufus Wainwright.

I know not everyone likes Rufus Wainwright. But I fell in love with his music on those damp wanderings through Vancouver’s West End, my headphones blocking out the pitter patter of the rain.

I’ve listened and re-listened to all my favourite Rufus songs dozens of times over the years, and I’ve gradually come to realize what it is about his music that I find so satisfying.

It’s that I can’t figure it out. His music is a mystery to me: I can’t imagine how anyone could conceive of those melodies, those harmonies, those orchestrations, and make those creative choices. It’s music I can’t dissect intellectually –in much the same way as does the music of Puccini or Debussy or Beethoven, it leaves me breathless and awestruck.

I think his music has as much depth, as much to discover, as classical song. Perhaps for that reason it came as no surprise to me when Rufus Wainwright decided to “cross over”, as they say, to the world of classical music with his opera Prima Donna or with his 2009 album All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu.

Say what you will about pop musicians going classical – and say what you will about Rufus’s voice or his persona or whatever it is that might rub you the wrong way, if you’re one of those people who hasn’t been able to get into his music – I’m here to tell you to give him a chance, if you aren’t already a convert.

His work has somehow tapped into the uncertainty of our times and has captured the imagination of millions – including mezzo-soprano Wallis Giunta (pictured above), who gave the premiere performance of All Days Are Nights as a classical song cycle in March in Toronto.

I’m chuffed to be able to share that concert with you today on CBC Radio 2’s In Concert. And if you miss the show today, you can listen to Wallis’s performance anytime you like at CBC’s excellent Concerts on Demand website.

What makes something classical or popular? I’m not sure it’s a question we should even be asking anymore. But if you’re intent on classification, I’ll wager you’ll have a hard time placing All Days Are Nights. Some songs sound like “pop”, others sound much more like “Broadway”, others have a “classical” ring. But does it really matter, in a world that shuffles through music the way ours does?

Back in Mozart’s day, I imagine that music was just music. I imagine people thought about what kind of music it was (if they did think about it in that way at all) based on where they heard it rather than by genre the way we do today. Because back then you couldn’t divorce music from the place in which it was being performed, of course. Salon music. After dinner with the family at the piano music. Concert hall music. Tavern music.

Applying those categories to music today, a lot of songs we think of as being in different genres would end up as new bedfellows. But not, I think, as strange bedfellows.