OH, THE FINALS WEEK ORGY

Among the gifts I received at Christmas was a tablet laptop, with the expectation I’d be using especially for Kindle editions – including my own ebooks.

But so far what I’ve really appreciated is its ability to stream music.

For me, that’s meant Q2’s New Sounds and Operavore from WQXR in New York and WHRB from Harvard University in Cambridge.

With solid jazz from 5 a.m. till 1 p.m. and some adventurous classical continuing till 10 p.m., plus the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons and another opera on Sunday night, my listening is mostly on the Harvard station. Admittedly, the student announcers can be unintentionally amusing in their pronunciations and amateurish touches, but I usually find that more amusing than annoying.

This spring, though, I finally got to experience an amazing tradition on the station – the finals week Orgy, when the regular programming is set aside for in-depth presentations of specific composers or performers.

This one, for example, celebrated the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth by presenting just about all of his compositions that have been recorded – some from his high school years – as well as a hefty slice of works under his baton and the aural portion of his televised Young People’s concerts, one a day – over a five-day span. There was also an insightful Florence Price orgy, and a Rossini opera every noontime in observance of the 150th anniversary of his death.

There was also a presentation of the entire discography of jazz pianist Fred Hersch, an Overshadowed round on outstanding composers or performers who are less famous than others in their family (conductor Paavo Jarvi got good play with the Cincinnati Symphony), the complete recorded works of Edvard Grieg in celebration of his 175th birthday. Quite simply, I’m looking at all of them in a much broader and appreciative light now.

It’s not all classical, either, not by a long shot. One fascinating series was titled “Why Does Everybody Hate Disco?” while another, reflecting an inclination for some truly arcane indulgences, was “Yang Haisong and the Chinese Indie Scene.” There was much, much more.

Quite simply, I’m left wondering why more radio stations don’t go in for this kind of excess more often. It’s exciting – and, yes, it can also be satiating, boring, or too much, just as I suppose a Roman orgy would be – but, my, I found myself carrying that tablet with me through my chores around the house. I anticipated what was coming up, rather than expecting more of the same as you find on most cookie-cutter programming.

So what are you listening to? And why? Any recommendations, especially when it comes to streaming? We’re all ears.

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