On this torrentially-rainy day, surrounded by boxes (I have moved in, but not arranged my things), and working on the opening of UniLives.com video uploads, I turned on a recording of The Planets, by Gustav Holst. This symphony is a popular crowd-pleaser at concerts for its recognizably-different movements, prominent use of a wide range of instruments, and strong melodies.
Today, listening to the symphony brought back memories of my first commute. When I was in eleventh grade, I began a regular drive to Lancaster Bible College for night classes. Over two and a half years, I studied composition, public speaking, psychology, and field ecology. Through its Sunrise/Sunset program, the college offered free courses to secondary students with promise, and to the elderly. Those courses were critically-important to my intellectual development, and I only now see the radical generosity of that program. (They still do it, and it's now called Jumpstart)
The drive was 30 minutes each way, and I would listen to WITF on the radio, most usually Dick Strawser, introduce me to so much amazing and wonderful music from the Western tradition. His informative introductions educated me about composers and opened the door on new worlds of human society.
Driving back one night, he played the Planets. I can remember the speakers inside my parents van battling mightily against the roaring storm outside, to the brass exuberance of Jupiter, the bringer of Jollity (Allegro giouoso).
Now living in Cambridge, where it's easy to attend concerts with famous ensembles and composers, and I have had opportunities to perform as well, those doors have been opened to me. I wish I had more time to participate.
In 2008, many of the familiar names and voices of WITF, including Dick Strawser, left or were let go. But Dick is still writing his wonderful music blog, and apparently continuing with his love of historial musical fiction with NaNoWriMo this year. He is Dr_Dick on twitter.