Monday, March 31, 2008

Complaining about the CBC

A reporter from the Concordia University newspaper is writing an article, and asked me:

What are the main issues with the CBC?
What you hope to accomplish with the protest?
Why is important that the CBC have an orchestra?
Why is it important that the CBC play classical music?

Here's what I replied:

The main issues that people are having with the CBC are that they are canceling several long-running and popular shows, that they'll play less classical music, and that they're disbanding their 70-year-old CBC Radio Orchestra.

I think it is important for the CBC to play classical music. Many people, including me, have been turned on to classical music through CBC Radio 2. Many people throughout Canada enjoy listening to classical music, and have either no local classical station, or a poor one. (I don't like the local classical station here in Montreal.) CBC Radio 2 is/was a way for people who live in small towns or remote areas - places with no local orchestra and not much access to live classical concerts - to hear classical music recordings and recorded concerts.
I myself stopped listening to CBC Radio 2 when they did a big programming change in March of last year. They got rid of several of my favourite programs. They put on more pop/jazz programs (and many people argue that the main jazz program doesn't even have a lot of good jazz on.) From what I heard, they replaced knowledgeable musically-educated radio show hosts with hosts who don't even always know how to pronounce composers' names (I can't personally attest to this as I no longer listen to CBC Radio 2.)

One of the shows they cancelled last year in March was Two New Hours, a program featuring new "classical" music (usually Canadian.) I heard that after that show was cancelled, the CBC recorded fewer contemporary-classical music concerts. The CBC also stopped holding the Young Composers Competition a few years ago. This competition was a good way to launch the careers of Canadian composers. Since the CBC no longer broadcasts Two New Hours, or holds the composers' competition, The CBC Radio Orchestra is/was a way for Canadian composers to have their music heard, since it often played and commissioned recent music by Canadian composers. I'm an amateur composer, and I have many friends who are professional composers, so I understand how hard it can be for a composer to have his/her music performed.

People might argue that a whole lot of Canadians don't like contemporary classical music, so why broadcast it on CBC radio? I think that a lot of Canadians do like contemporary music. I came to contemporary music through CBC radio. I think contemporary music should be given a chance. Heck, I once played an atonal piano piece at a church, and the church members loved it.
Now the CBC's contemporary music radio show plays a bunch of pop music, with the occasional contemporary classical piece.

The CBC claims that their decision to get rid of the CBC Radio Orchestra is financial, but the author of the InsidetheCBC blog says "Anyone who has been in business understands that you always have the money if it’s a priority. What the CBC really means is this: 'We have the money, but we have chosen to make this decision.' " (source:

Facebook groups have been started, both to protest the changes being made to the CBC's programming, and to protest the disbanding of the CBC Radio orchestra.

The people in charge of the CBC say that they'll still play a lot of classical music, so people don't need to worry. However, this classical music will be limited to 2 or 3 shows on the weekend, plus "accessible and popular" classical music from 10 AM to 3 PM on weekdays. I think I'd get bored of "accessible and popular" classical music pretty quickly. One thing I used to like about CBC Radio Two (especially recorded-concert programs like In Performance, Symphony Hall, and Two New Hours) was that they often played music that challenged me. I found that by keeping an open mind, I learned a lot about all kinds of classical music.

I don't listen to CBC Radio 2, but I protest the changes because the CBC will be playing even less classical music after the upcoming programming changes, because I used to enjoy listening to some of the shows that they're cancelling, and because I think it is important for CBC audiences to have access to classical music.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

On March 18th

On March 18th, it was a year since the last episode of Two New Hours. Two New Hours was a great radio show that featured new music. I still miss that show.

On March 18th, I got a letter in the mail from the Canadian Music Centre asking for donations. Now that Two New Hours is gone, there isn't much chance to hear new Canadian music anymore. Maybe I'll send the Canadian Music Centre a few dollars.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I've been enjoying the MusiMarch festival. It's a new music festival at McGill. I went to the concerts on Tuesday and Thursday, and I listened to the second half of the concert on Wednesday.

This year's festival has an interesting idea: the concerts mix old and new music, showing connections between older pieces and newer pieces.

The concert on Tuesday started with some traditional African music. There was also a really cool piece by Polo Vallejo for 6 congas. I never knew congas could be capable of so many things! At some points in the piece, it sounded like there were several lines of music going on at once. It kind of reminded me of the compound melodies in Bach's unaccompanied cello and violin pieces. This concert also had a very enjoyable arrangement of Vivier's Pulau Dewata, and a premiere of a piece for cello and ensemble and electronics by Sean Ferguson. I don't know if I've ever heard any of his music before, but I liked this piece.

While listening to the music festival on the internet on Wednesday night, I heard the Ligeti horn concerto, played by the McGill Contemporary Music Ensemble. It's so beautiful. I'd heard the
CME play it a few years ago too.

I liked the concert last night (Thursday). It opened with Bachianas Brasilieras #5. I've heard that piece many times, it's an old 20th-century "classic", I've played it several times in a few different arrangements -- but I still absolutely love it. Incidentally, this was the first time I've ever heard the lesser-known 2nd movement of it. This concert also included a haunting cello piece by Gilles Tremblay, and some early vocal music selections. A piece that I especially liked was "Fumeux fume" by 14th-century composer Solage. The concert ended with a weird piece by Julian Anderson called "Book of Hours".

In other news, today is Ravel's birthday. It's also my half-birthday. I am now 23 and a half.