Friday, September 24, 2010

Radio Interview

My CD was out in 2003 ….actually released for distribution and what a thrill it was. Now what……?

Albany Records sent copies of my CD to their list of radio stations as part of the release and in hopes of enticing them to play it during programming. Stations are inundated with new CDs each and every day so I realized without some leg work on my part, my CD would not get air time. In today’s world radio stations are part of a conglomerate where programming is an executive decision and the broadcasts are sent out from a central studio to stations around the country.

The creative and business part of my brain took over as I scoured the internet for classical radio programs featuring women in music projects and new works programs. My job was to find independent and community supported stations whose announcers were creative as well as inquisitive with their programming. Would they dare to play a CD of a non-famous performer, of a forgotten composer from the past? Would announcers and programmers take that chance? Are they progressive enough to understand a project like mine and my dedication to this woman composer Gena Branscombe?

I found eight stations whose program hosts were inspired by my story and took the time to interview me and play my CD. Every interview was done by a woman who put forth a woman in music venture. I am thankful to them and their stations for giving me air time.

While performing with the Acadia Choral Society in Bar Harbor, I noticed an advertisement in the concert program for WERU’s “Women’s Voices” program. Little did I know the announcer for the program was Choral Society member Marge May. I sent my CD and a letter to the station mentioning that I had frequently performed in the Bar Harbor area, my project was about a woman composer and hopefully we could tie it in to their program. A while later a response came from Marge saying she would be happy to feature my CD as well do an interview for her program. Marge had done her homework preparing questions and insights into our project. Following our telephone interview she went to work intertwining cuts from the CD with our taped remarks. The flow from music to us speaking and back to music was effortless highlighting the fluidity of Gena’s life and career. What a beautiful job she did. Thanks to Marge May, known as Magdalen on the air, we had our first successful interview! Some day soon, I promise to share this interview on my website!

“The Latest Score” hosted by Canary Burton of WOMR in Provincetown, MA features new works by composers, newly released CDs and promotes unique music projects and performances. What an enthusiastic, supportive person she is. Canary interviewed Martin, Laurine and I and played cuts from the CD. Not only did she interview us in November 2004 but in April 2007, she interviewed us a second time helping to promote our upcoming performance of “Life! Love! Song! A Visit with Gena Branscombe” in Quincy, Massachusetts. Canary endorsed our performance encouraging her listening audience to attend!

Canary’s interview style is friendly, laid back and relaxed allowing us to explain in detail Gena’s life, music and the development of our project. Occasionally I will receive an e-mail from her advising me that she will be rebroadcasting the interviews! Thank you Canary, you are a dear!

It came as quite a surprise when Deirdre Saravia of Texas Public Radio invited me for an interview. Via telephone she asked me about Gena, the recording and how the entire project evolved. Later she merged the interview with the music and it was broadcast in March 2005. To know that listeners in Texas were introduced to Gena’s music was encouraging!
Marvin Rosen of “Classical Discoveries” on WPRB in Princeton, NJ played selections from my CD. He features new and unusual music on his program.

Sarah Cahill and I met at a women in music festival entitled “Ladyfingers” whose main objective was the performance of piano compositions by women composers. Though I do not play piano in a way that would draw an audience, I did sing chant by the medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen. Sarah invited me to be on her KALW program, “Then and Now” should I ever be in San Francisco. In May 2005 Dan and I were in the Bay Area. Sarah interviewed me live in the studio and played selections from my CD.

Sarah is a brilliant pianist with twelve recordings of her own. An avid performer of contemporary composers and their music, her playing is at once lyrical and can reach the demands of extended piano techniques. As a radio interviewer she is friendly and willing to help out a fellow musician.

A 7 AM live and in person interview at WORT in Madison, Wisconsin found me arriving at the station at 6:45 AM. I was met by Jessica Courtier, host of the show, “Other Voices.” We spent 20 minutes playing songs from the CD and discussing Gena Branscombe’s influence on the music world at large. What a way to start your day!

Marian Mapes-Bouck of KMUD in Garberville, California interviewed me live via telephone, twice. For her show “Women in Music, Marian had requested CDs of women composers or performers. Quickly I submitted my CD with a letter and Marian contacted me shortly thereafter.

When we set the interview time for early March 2008 I had no idea what to expect of her questions to me. What we thought would be a 15 minute interview including cuts from the CD went on for nearly 25 minutes. Marian had done her homework and knew an extensive amount about Gena and her music. Her questions were thought provoking and I found myself digging deeper into my well of information on Gena Branscombe. As we arrived at the subject of my one-woman show, her questions turned to how I came upon the idea of doing the show, how we wrote the dialogue, how did we choose the portions of Gena’s life to highlight, how the show was produced, where we had performed and would be performing. She understood the importance of my show and with her questions her listening audience realized the creativity it took to make it all this a reality.

Later that month Marian invited me to return to the air with her while KMUD was doing their fund-raising week. I offered three free CDs to listeners who donated to the station. We need stations like KMUD!

Marian passed away in November 2009. To have lost the hero of KMUD’s “Women in Music” is a loss to the music world at large. A true champion for women, a teacher, a musician and singer herself, she leaves behind those of us blessed to have been touched by her enthusiasm for our projects.

Radio station CKWR in Waterloo, Ontario requested women to submit CDs for their show, “Women in Music” hosted by Mary Lou Schagena. With the usual sending out of my CD and a letter explaining that Gena was born and raised in nearby Picton, Ontario, I received an e-mail not only expressing interest in a live 8 PM telephone interview, in addition, my CD would be highlighted for play on the 9 PM show, “Monday Evening Concert” hosted by Tom Quick. A double whammy of radio time!

Mary Lou had done her home work and her lively personality made for a fun interview. Her questions about Gena again made me dig deep for further details and then we hit upon my one-woman show. Mary Lou’s enthusiasm was infectious and she quickly inquired about possible Canadian performances. What was to have been a ten minute interviewed spilled over to 25 minutes. Several days later in a private phone conversation she gave me names, theatres and concert series in Canada and suggestions about whom we could send our publicity materials.

So this is an extensive blog filled with names and dates, details and fond memories of radio interviews. Most important are the people and hosts I met along the way, their passion for promoting women in music and their fearless faith that their listening audiences would catch on. I have been interviewed on both the East and West Coasts and in the middle of our country. How lucky I have been.

There seems to be a pattern that when offered a ten minute interview, it quietly extends itself because of the passion I have for Gena’s life and music and because the show’s hosts “got it.” Well, maybe it means I like to talk…..a lot…..!

Thank you to all of you brilliant radio hosts and your loyal listening audiences.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Elizabeth Leif

"Patron of the Arts" is a term long familiar to the creative world at large. The history of music shows that the courts of England, Germany, Austria and Italy supported such composers as Mozart, Handel, Haydn and Monteverdi. These composers were commissioned to write and perform pieces for specific occasions where musicians were hired, choral anthems, operas, chamber music or symphonies were performed all to entertain the court and the common people and, most important, paid for by royalty!

Times have not changed in over 500 years. Today, we in the arts continue to rely on the generosity of people who understand that music, dance and art influence our daily lives. Music soothes our aural and spiritual souls. Art inhabits our visual and spiritual souls. Dance thrills us, leaving our physical and spiritual souls with heightened awareness of the beauty the human body can express.

The price of concert tickets does not cover the expenses for performances so we have billion dollar corporations who donate money to keep symphony orchestras, opera and ballet companies as well as concert venues alive to serve their audiences.

Individual performers often wonder if their creative projects will find a person or a venue who will help fund their expenses. We search far and wide, and then one day someone to whom you have sent your publicity packet actually takes the time to open it, read it, and considers presenting and promoting your creative work. Thus was the story with a beautiful and charming lady by the name of Elizabeth Leif.

In Elizabeth we found a woman whose worldly life and special curiosity led her to read through my publicity packet and decide that this one-woman show about Gena Branscombe must be presented in the Quincy, Massachusetts area. A phone call from Elizabeth to my agent expressing her interest was the beginning of a beautiful and continuing friendship for all of us.

A registered nurse with her initial training from Quincy Hospital, Elizabeth soon found herself living in England for one year's study of mid-wifery. As a specialist in maternal and child health care, she spent three and a half years working in Tanzania. She obtained her Masters degree in Public Health from Yale Medical School and worked for the United Nations in Central America again as a maternal and child health specialist. To round off her career, she worked as a consultant to the National Academy of Pediatrics for Maternal and Child Health helping to set up clinics in high risk areas. What a calling and one where I know she served her patients with the utmost love, respect and care.

What made a registered nurse take a second glance at an unusual publicity packet? Having been President of the Old Stoughton Musical Society and President of the Old Stoughton Historical Society, Elizabeth wrote the first journal of the music society entitled, "The Chorister." This retrospecitve recounts the history of Stoughton and its music society; the oldest continuing performing organization in the United States dating back to the 1700s. In addition Elizabeth researched the history of Stoughton, the birth place of American Freedom.

Our registered nurse and historian knew when she read our packet that this was an important and historical woman composer with close ties to Massachusetts. Elizabeth understood deep down the significance of Gena Branscombe and the mission of the Old Stoughton Musical Society.

Using her own personal funds and ingenuity, Elizabeth produced "Life! Love! Song! A Visit with Gena Branscombe." With determination Elizabeth set forth booking a concert hall at Eastern Nazarene College, arranged for the piano, found us housing, provided the necesssary stage furniture and a lighting person. Lydia Wallace, Elizabeth's long time friend and a professional graphic artist, created colorful programs, tickets and flyers. With the help of friends, Elizabeth papered the towns, churches and schools with flyers inviting one and all to attend.

Martin, Elizabeth and I were interviewed on the radio by Canary Burton of WOMR in Provincetown, MA, not far from Quincy! We managed to get the word out about our upcoming performances!

Not a detail was missed and against some seemingly insurmountable odds, Elizabeth gave us the opportunity to perform two Gena shows for the people of Stoughton and Quincy!
What a fun time we had with these lovely and dear women. They gave of themselves emotionally and financially. How blessed we were and are. From this experience we have remained friends and on occasion I call to chat with them. A treasured memory on the path of exposing the world to the life and music of Gena Branscombe.

Thank you Elizabeth and Lydia!