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Old 11-04-2004, 12:52 PM   #1
Icing
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Default announcers on Symphony Hall 80

I know some people dislike the presence of DJs on the SIRIUS channels. DJs who simply chatter annoy me too, and I'd rather hear songs off a jukebox than listen to that. However, I think a DJ who knows when to talk and when to shut up and actually has something useful to say about the music adds to the listening experience.

Nowhere on SIRIUS do I find this to be more true than on Symphony Hall 80, where the announcers (I just can't bring myself to call them DJs) are excellent. Many times I've heard them talk about the piece they're playing and learned something new that helped me hear the piece a new way. It's even occasionally led me to appreciate a work that I previously disliked.

In particular I must cite Preston Trombly, who does the M-F 6am-noon shift and who I believe is a composer himself. Although he can be a bit goofy, his deep knowledge of both music theory and history is obvious and his commentary is always welcome. On this morning's program, after playing the prelude to Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," he mentioned that it is one of the most analyzed works of its time due to Wagner's nonstandard ways of resolving augmented 6th chords. The resolution of augmented 6th chords is beyond the boundaries of my knowledge of music theory, but his comment has inspired me to ask a musicologist friend of mine about it. I always seem to learn something when I listen to his broadcast.

Symphony Hall 80 is not perfect, but for my taste it's one of the best classical music broadcasts available. The knowledgeable announcers are an important part of that.
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Old 11-04-2004, 02:52 PM   #2
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I agree completely. The announcers are what makes it radio. It's okay to go automated some of the time, but good announcers add a lot.

Also, Preston Trombly's Jabberwocky is always a delight.


Quote:
Jabberwocky
Sundays (9 pm - 10 pm ET):


It’s Sunday night and you’re on the road — returning from a weekend getaway. Or you’re at home — making the mental transition from weekend leisure to workweek stress. It’s a perfect time for Jabberwocky — an hour of woven wit, poetry, profundity, silliness, and nonsense. Hosted by veteran radio broadcaster and storyteller Preston Trombly, the program draws upon his sometimes fictional and often improvisatory stories, musings, and multi-charactered slice-of-life vignettes: a true radio theater of the mind.

SIRIUS Talk Central // 148
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Old 11-08-2004, 12:18 PM   #3
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I, too, second that comment. I mostly hear Preston Trombly and Lauren Fry, and Mr. Trombly IS indeed enlightening, and at the same time not at all shy to tell you whether he likes or dislikes a particular piece.

The program director, Brian Atwood, who is on from 6pm to midnight, is also very knowledgable, and will stick in the occasional work that broadens my horizons in very pleasant ways.

Keep up the great work!
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Old 11-11-2004, 06:09 AM   #4
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I borrowed a friend's XM radio for a few days to compare their XM Classics to Sirius Symphony Hall. Both Sirius and XM of course want to save money by not having announcers work the midnight-to-6 am ET shift. Sirius automates the music during this time, but at least it's fresh. XM, on the other hand, simply reruns the shows hosted earlier in the day by their two hosts, Martin Goldsmith and Paul Bachmann. I like to think that XM got Martin Goldsmith, but Sirius got NPR--and Performance Today. Sorry, but to me it's almost cynical to squander the opportunity that 24 hours gives listeners by making half of it a rerun. The idea of rerunning program content is an unfortunate reminder of Clear Channel's influence on XM (they're on the XM Board of Directors, they have a co-marketing relationship, and they're a major investor in XM). Also, this is a matter of personal taste, but I found these two guys to be pedantic and pedantic-er. XM Classics reminds me of college radio (or some public classical radio stations), with its safe, populist selections and the same announcers who seem to be on whenever you tune in.

By having to fill 24 hours with fresh mixes, Sirius is able to take more chances with composers that you wouldn't hear otherwise. I've heard Ned Rorem, for example, quite a few times on Symphony Hall. When I listened to XM Classics, the XM equivalent, I only heard the predictable and safe Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, etc.

Good announcers, interesting selections, and the best bandwidth Sirius offers for a channel--these are what I love about Symphony Hall.
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Old 11-12-2004, 09:35 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments, magneto. My wife and I have decided to get XM to try it out and see how we like the music programming compared to SIRIUS. Given the quality of Symphony Hall 80, I'm skeptical about whether XM Classics will measure up, and your post reinforces that. If we really like XM overall, but find XM Classics a disappointment, I guess we'll just have to keep both services. Since we are dedicated listeners to classical music from all eras, we feel that Symphony Hall nearly on its own makes our SIRIUS subscription worthwhile.

I couldn't agree more with your comments about the channel. It's the announcers and Brian Atwood's creative programming that make it great for us. They do play Ned Rorem quite regularly. This morning they played a piece by Toru Takemitsu. One can hear Rautavara, Finzi, Bloch, etc. That's of course in addition to all the more well-known composers. I think Mr. Atwood does a fine job of balancing the safe and familiar works with those that are less well-known and more challenging listening. It's a difficult task, because some people will immediately change the channel if a piece by, say, Alban Berg comes on, and others (like me) will tire of hearing Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, etc. all the time.

If only SIRIUS still had Vista, it would be classical music heaven. Alas...

Thanks again for your post. I hope you'll hang around and talk some more about the classical music programming, since there aren't too many of us here who are deeply interested in it.
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Old 02-02-2005, 09:35 AM   #6
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Adding to an older thread, I wrote 3 separate emails to Brian Atwood over the last 3 days, complementing him on some of the programming choices, and encouraging some other works by the composers he recently programmed in.

I received answers to all 3 emails, with thoughtful commentary on my words. THAT is customer service.
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Old 12-17-2005, 01:59 PM   #7
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Default Sym Hall 80 vs XM Classics...

It was interesting reading your comments here as I am trying to make make a decision between the two sat providers. If you have anything to add I have started this thread:

http://www2.siriusbackstage.com/foru...ic.php?t=32353

Thanks!
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Old 01-10-2006, 09:58 AM   #8
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I am hugely impressed by Preston Trombley. He is knowledgable, personable, and enthusiastic. You can tell he's a genuine classical music lover.
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Old 01-17-2006, 01:41 PM   #9
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He's also a composer, with a bio warranting an entry in the Grove. I haven't heard any of his music though. Looks like it's been a while since he's written anything.

http://prestontrombly.com/composer/composer.html
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Old 01-28-2006, 06:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magneto
...XM...reruns the shows hosted earlier...to me it's...cynical to squander the opportunity that 24 hours gives...by making half of it a rerun.
I do not find this to be an issue because such a tiny minority of listeners would ever hear the same program twice. Who would listen at noon and midnight or any AM and also that same PM? When I do hear something I've heard before and is not worth listening to again (I probably didn't like it the first time either) I tune to another channel. Aside from XM Classics, there is also Vox, XM Pops, Audio Visions, Fine Tuning, and of course The Big Score on Cinemagic.
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Old 01-29-2006, 01:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magneto
XM Classics reminds me of college radio (or some public classical radio stations), with its safe, populist selections and the same announcers who seem to be on whenever you tune in.

By having to fill 24 hours with fresh mixes, Sirius is able to take more chances with composers that you wouldn't hear otherwise. I've heard Ned Rorem, for example, quite a few times on Symphony Hall. When I listened to XM Classics, the XM equivalent, I only heard the predictable and safe Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, etc.

Good announcers, interesting selections, and the best bandwidth Sirius offers for a channel--these are what I love about Symphony Hall.
This I agree with, havingh both services I was struck by the consistent presence of "war horses" on XM, but I like the programming based on individual symphony radio broadcasts, war-horse laden as they implicitly tend to be, because of the spontaneity of the individual live performances

Also, almost forgot, Howard Stern endorsed Symphony Hall last week in some on-air comments!
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Old 02-02-2006, 10:42 PM   #12
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Default Classical Music

Symphony Hall and Sirius Pops are on my presets. They are great for relaxing and getting some work done.
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Old 02-04-2006, 10:40 PM   #13
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I've been playing Sirius Pops almost exclusively on my laptop.

Neil
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Old 02-06-2006, 03:00 PM   #14
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I listen to both Symphony Hall and Sirius Pops a lot. Another presenter
who should be mentioned is Marsha Young on Sirius Pops. She's very pleasant, offers a bit of info and is not overpowering.
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Old 02-08-2006, 12:01 AM   #15
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I have only been into classical music for a couple years and, so I prefer an announcer who can enlighten me on music theory and history just a little at a time. I like knowing how the composers interrelated and thought.
Brahms and the Schumanns...Clara Schumann and Franz Liszt...Liszt's daughter and Richard Wagner.
How several composers independently moved Cellos from accompaniment instruments to solo performers.
Papa Haydn taught music to several Baroque era greats.
Prokovieve and Shostakovitch incorporated non-soviet or anti-soviet messages into their works.
Compelled to learn what I can, I avoid all-music streams when listening on line. As I have XM Classics in the car, I listen to Symphony Hall at home. If I had Sirius in the car, I would listen to XM at home.
I do prefer the variety of XM Vox to the almost all opera music on Sirius Classical Voices.
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