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Sound off and sign on with WDPR survey

The end of the year brings an epidemic of lists.  Best/worst movies, politicians, restaurants, sports teams, etc, etc. into infinity.  Truthfully, I like these codified opinions. Somehow, the Dayton Daily News leaves out my arts, the hard-ticket variety.  They concentrate on rock bands and B grade movies.  Your Oakwood Register would never do that!

Last week I wrote an impressive list of highlights of our copious arts calendar.  I was impressed not by what I included – they were truly great – but what I left out.  Omitted from my listing were many fabulous performances that just didn’t make the space, not quality, cut.

All of this boils down to individual and collective tastes.  We see people at the opera that are not regular at the symphony. The Victoria main stage series is a nearly new population from the Human Race, Theatre Guild, and Wright State Theatre.

Dayton Public Radio has done an intriguing and wonderful survey.  Last year was the debut of this fun and interesting exercise.  This year, the results, numbers of participants and ratings of the selections were very different and full of surprises.
There is a loyal, and ever-growing, audience for our stellar 24 hour a day classical music station - WDPR/WDPG, 88.1 and 88.9 on your FM dials.  Its success flies in the face of national trends.  Many cities have lost their full or even part-time classical stations.

The survey is really a popularity contest.  Listeners are asked to send in their five favorite classical selections.  The results are codified and the day after Christmas, with a week of carols still ringing in our ears, the on-air personalities begin “Classical Countdown.”

Starting at number 100, the winning compositions are played, ending in the vaunted number one selection on New Year’s Eve.  I have had friends ask me what I thought would be number one, or who proudly stated that their picks last year all ended up near the top.

I’ve spoken with Georgie Woessner, Charles Wendelken-Wilson, Shaun Yu, Larry Coressel, Zach Cramer, Mike Jaffe and Larry Kensington, all on-air personalities and music devotees, regarding the survey and their opinions of the results.

It was unanimous that the survey ignited enthusiasm in both the unseen audience and the staff.  There was also a strong opinion that the selections were influenced by the music that the station played and what was heard at the Philharmonic.

I add my voice to that, as well.  Our home CD library is rarely used, gathering dust.  Dayton Public radio is on all the time.  As I am writing this, Larry Coressel is playing a symphony by Mily Balakirev, hardly a familiar composer.  I do not remember hearing it previously but the charm of the music caught my attention.

Tastes are made and continue to develop through experience.  The joy of having this great music at the touch of a button is unbounded.  That joy is increased by the selections of our on-air personalities adding their knowledge and passion.

Now, to the statistical analysis.  This year more than half of those responding were new.  Also, the favorites of last year were in vastly different places in the list.  Oddly enough, there were no selections of Chopin or Hayden. These great composers can take umbrage that their contracts will not be cancelled.  In composers’ heaven, there might be a few pained looks when the results are published.  The great masters can congratulate Arvo Parvi, Jaques Ibert, Tomaso Albinoni, Joaquin Rodrigo for making the prized list.

I praise the ever-developing tastes of the Dayton audience for making such thoughtful selections.  I’m giving special honors to Maestro Neal Gittleman and the Philharmonic for introducing Dmitri Shostakovich so thoroughly to Dayton.  I know that Dmitri is thrilled to have his 2nd Piano Concerto and 5th Symphony make the list both years.

Not every selection thrilled everyone.  My wife, Alice, was disappointed by the inclusion of one of her less favored pieces of music, Holst’s The Planets.  More painful was the fact that her unfavorite soared from 59th place to 13th this year.
If you want to play the game you can go to the website  Your comments are welcome on the station’s blog, www.voiceof  Remember, next year, make your vote count.

Playhouse South auditions Jan. 12 & 13

Playhouse South  announces auditions for a genuine classic of the American stage. Inherit the Wind is loosely based on the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. Two legal giants descend on a small town representing the opposing sides in the evolution/creationism debate. The entire town is drawn into the debate and at its center the unintentionally brave teacher who dared to teach his students. Productions dates are March 6-15, 2009.

Auditions will be held Jan. 12 & 13 at 7:30 p.m. in  the Fellowship Hall of Fairmont Presbyterian Church, 3705 Far Hills Avenue, Kettering (across the street from the Playhouse South Theatre – please use the upper parking lot off Far Hills Avenue, enter through the front courtyard door).  Auditions will consist of readings from the script.  Callbacks may be scheduled for Jan. 14 if necessary. Please contact the director at (937) 253-7594 or if you have any questions.

Soirees Musicales artist to perform Jan. 10

Pianist Spencer Myer will perform on Saturday, Jan. 10, 8 p.m. at the Shiloh Church, n. Main Street at Philadephia Drive in Dayton. Tickets are $22 adults, seniors $20, students (ages 19-22) $12 and 18 and under FREE. Selections from Handel, Chopin, Vine, Albeniz and Liszt will be played.

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January 6, 2009
Volume 18, No. 1

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