There's still time to listen to my appearance on Marvin Rosen's program Classical Discoveries Goes Avant-Garde. The mp3 files will remain on Marvin's website until August 12.
Response to our all-Carter program has been limited, but uniformly positive. Some of my friends didn't care for the music, but they thought I did pretty well, which was a relief. I felt I stammered and repeated myself, and I had these visions of listeners sitting in their cars thinking, "Who is this goofball?"
Marvin said it had been a "great show," and, more inportant, so did his wife, Beata, who, I am told, is his most outspoken critic, one who would never say anything just to be nice. I want to her, too, for driving me from the Rosen house to the studio and back. Without her, I mostly likely would have been at least a half hour late to the show. I left my house in plenty of time, but, driving up Route 1, I missed my turn off and ended up a couple of townships away. Finally, when the trip odometer hit 40 miles — after Google Maps had assured me the journey from my home to the Rosens' was only 33 — I decided the time had come to turn around.
I walked into the studio with about eight minutes to spare. I was feeling frazzled and very foolish, but Marvin assured me we had plenty of time, and he was right. He loaded the first CD, and there was nothing left to do but sit and chat and load up on bottled water.
The WPRB studio is a seedy, poorly ventilated, trapezoidal room in the basement of Princeton's Bloomberg Hall. The window in front of the board looks out onto an empty elevator well and, beyond, a meandering white corridor. (During On Conversing With Paradise, I went out to use the men's room and followed the corridor to its dead end before going back. I'd missed the turn, as I had on Route 1. A pattern was developing.)
The board was compact, with a pair of turntables on one side and a stack of CD players on the other. There were two foam-shrouded microphones, mounted on swivel booms. I sat at the one on the right as we faced out the studio window. Marvin told me to speak up and keep my lips close to the mike. I actually didn't hear much of the music I had brought. Marvin and I spent much of the time going over what we would talk about during our next segment. He had a list of questions prepared, and he told me in advance what he was going to ask so there would be no unpleasant surprises. Near the end of the show, he said he wanted to ask what Carter was working on these days, and when I told him I didn't know, he said he would skip it. This was not gotcha journalism. He wanted me to be at ease.
The time on-air went by quickly — so quickly, indeed, that we didn't have time for all of the music I had wanted to play. I had hoped to finish up with Carter's Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord, but by the time the Concerto for Orchestra was finished, we had only about eight or so minutes left. Fortunately, I had brought a couple of alternates. Marvin asked me a few parting questions, and we played the "Bariolage," a six-minute piece for solo harp, which took us right up to the end of the show.
The DJ with the time slot after Marvin's cut it even closer that I had. He arrived a minute or so late, while the station ID was still playing. For a while, Marvin thought he was going to have to stay on the air.
Marvin, Beata and I had a post-mortem lunch at a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Princeton. Then Marvin went to work at Westminster Choir College, and Beata gave me a tour of their house and garden. I thought I was a compulsive collector, but Marvin owns more than 15,000 CDs. They are everywhere, except for two small rooms — the kitchen and an upstairs office — where Beata forbids them. In the living, they are actually a theme of the interior decor, covering an entire wall. The place smelled pleasantly of fresh-cut wood, a symptom of the endless rows of IKEA shelves.
I haven't listened to the broadcas, by the way. If I want to hear it again, I can just replay the CDs on my home stereo and avoid all the commentary.