On a recent Monday morning I walked into the studio of Rochester's classical music station cradling a stack of CDs in one arm and a sheaf of news reports in the other. The news was not good. The sky threatened rain. I slipped a CD into the player and started a Haydn symphony, a cheerful burst of minty freshness. I followed that with Vivaldi's chirpy Goldfinch Concerto, a flashy set of trills inspired by the song of the European goldfinch, (a mouse of a bird that's not even gold, by the way.)
The music was sunny. But as the minutes ticked by, my mood darkened. It DID start to rain. More depressing stories poured into the newsroom.
At one point I actually thought to myself, “What annoying person picked all of this chirrupy music for a dismal Monday morning?”
Then I remembered.
“Oh, yeah, that would be me.”
For a month, it's been my privilege to serve as interim host of the morning classical show in Rochester, New York, following the retirement of the longest-tenured morning radio announcer in the city, Simon Pontin, host of the Sunshine Show on WXXI for 33 years. Stepping into his role was daunting. I’m not Simon, I’m not particularly zany, and I can't even fake a British accent. But I CAN offer unalloyed enthusiasm for music, even on the gloomiest mornings. Especially on the gloomiest mornings. I believe good music has the power to lift our spirits and expand our minds.
Listeners have been very kind. I've received dozens of encouraging e-mails and phone calls. One guy named Albert suggested the station should be registered with the FDA. “Then doctors could prescribe listening to WXXI,” he wrote, “rather than medication to those in need of an interlude of peace and tranquility in their day-to-day lives.”
On the other hand, my friend Rhonda complains that the music is TOO soothing. It doesn't rouse her out of bed in the morning. I should put her in contact with the long-time Simon fan who recently blogged about losing his favorite morning host. He and his wife refer to me as “Bubbles.”
I won't apologize for blithe music and effervescence. The sky is often dark. The news is often darker.
Let's listen to Haydn together.