Not Your Choirmaster's Vocal Music Show
May 11, 2009
Traditionally, beyond the realm of pop music broadcasts on commercial radio stations, radio networks in the US have shied away from airing classical vocal music. Very occasionally, classical radio DJs will mix one choral work or operatic aria into a set of instrumental symphonic or chamber music. If a show is devoted entirely to vocal music, it's invariably sacred choral fare played to put The Devout in the mood for church on a Sunday morning.
But because sung lyrics demand attention from the listener, and the general sensibility among radio networks seems to be one of making "musical wallpaper" of classical music -- in other words, something pretty that's played in the background rather than really listened to -- vocal music is largely relegated to the sidelines.
Which brings me to spreading advance word about VoiceBox, my new vocal music radio show which unapologetically puts singing front and center.
Launching on Friday May 29 from 10-11pm under the auspices of Bay Area NPR affiliate KALW 91.7 FM San Francisco, VoiceBox will celebrate the art of song through highlighting the work of singers, composers, conductors and other amazing vocal music aficionados past and present. The show will present an eclectic exploration of the best of the vocal music scene from the Bay Area and beyond, covering terrain as diverse as Fado, Folk, Opera, Oratorio, Plainchant and Post-Punk.
I'll be joined in the studio by a special guest for each program who'll talk about the art of singing in a wide variety of contexts. Confirmed VoiceBox interviewees include the all-male vocal ensemble Chanticleer's superlative bassman, Eric Alatorre (May 29) and one of the Bay Area's foremost sea shanty singers, Walter Askew (June 5).
I'll be posting information about VoiceBox on my website as it evolves. The series is in its pilot phase: I'll be producing five weekly episodes between May 29 and June 26, and then will be regrouping and hopefully launching the series proper in the Fall. In this trial period, I'd especially love to hear from anyone who's a singer, involved in vocal music in some way, or simply loves to hear great voices. If you have any suggestions or thoughts you'd like to share with me about content for the show or overall scope, please get in touch. I'd love to hear your ideas.
And please listen in on your radio on via the Web!