The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 September 2003

Tonal, schmonal

One good thing about our local classical station: while they're conservative to a fault during most of the broadcast schedule, the 9-10 am block, known as the Birthday Hour, occasionally tosses that caution to the wind.

John Cage was born on this date in 1912. A number of composers share this birthday, but not only did the station find room for Cage, they played his Atlas Eclipticalis, a string of uncompromising galactic emissions that doesn't even approach the usual definition of "accessible." It is, of course, endlessly fascinating, but with classical stations pitching themselves as upscale background music these days — well, how do you shove John Cage into the background?

Yeah, I know: they could have spared the delicate sensibilities of some listeners by playing 4' 33", or filling the space with a second piece by Mrs. H. H. A. Beach. But the fact that they didn't strikes me as a welcome sign of life in a format too often just barely this side of moribund.

Posted at 10:21 AM to Tongue and Groove