While Glenn Gould is renowned as a pianist for his interpretations of Bach, Gibbons, Byrd, Berg, Webern, Schonberg and others, his work as a radio artist is only now becoming more well known. I came across Gould's radio work immedietely after coming across Glenn Gould, the pianist..so for me, it is as integral a part of his legacy as his recordings of the piano repertoire. No surprise then that for the last twelve years I have wanted to explore the possibilities that radio still has to offer. I had a chance to talk to legendary CBC Producer Dr John P.L. Roberts, who met Gould in 1955 and they quickly became close friends and colleagues. When Roberts moved to CBC Toronto from CBC Winnipeg music broadcasts until 1975 as supervisor of music, head of music, and later head of Radio Music and Variety. Considered a pioneer, he established the CBC as a major producer of recordings in Canada and provided new opportunities for composers and performers to reach national and international audiences through the recording medium. It was he who commissioned several documentaries, numerous radio broadcasts (including one for the European Broadcasting Union) and the multi–week series The Art of Glenn Gould, which was rebroadcast several times. Roberts had some incredibly fascinating insights to offer into the world of Glenn Gould - the radio artist. He said that Gould was a pioneer in every sense of the world, that everything he did way back in the 60's and 70's had an element of surprise, an element of pushing the boundaries of what radio could offer at the time. Listen to any of his radio documentaries, in particular "The Quiet in the Land" from the Solitude Trilogy, or his portrait of Leopold Stokowski. The idea of contrapuntal radio may not seem so cutting edge now, but back then it was an extraordinary revelation.
Having discussed Gould's life and work on RTE Radio 1, and also having seen how mainstream classical music radio operates in Ireland in particular (a shuffle playlist, presenters who may be anything but musicians/knowledgeable about music - a model, a sports pundit, a lifestyle guru are still able to present a classical music show because it simply involves them reading the names of works off the computer screen and playing the shuffle playlist, I was determined that if I ever did make my first foray into the world of radio, it would be on my terms - to learn as much on the job, to learn about everything - producing, sound engineering, editing, post production, and most importantly, to not let limitations such as lack of added support staff, researchers etc get in the way of the main task at hand - to produce intelligent radio, play exciting music, play works in their entirety, have conversations with great musicians (Leon Fleisher, for instance, was one of the few pianists Glenn Gould admired, and Marni Nixon's interpretations of Webern and Ives were amongst his own favourites)and not worry about the rest.
Changing the Record - simply a string of words put together to perhaps signify that it is possible, even in this day and age, to try and change the broken record of endless repeats of watered down classical music, presenters who sound as though they've memorized every word off the script, but ask them one question that isn't on the printed page and they panic. One of the most exciting things about working in radio is the fact that one has the possibilities to learn so much on the job - new music, new musicians, new composers, new writers it really is phenomenally rewarding.
http://www.changingtherecord.com/ - OFFBEAT's own little place on the web.