Posted at 5:18 AM on December 28, 2007
by Julia Schrenkler
Each week Melissa Ousley hosts two hours of classical music requests we like to call
Friday Favorites. From 1:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. CT, she takes your song suggestions to the air. It seems simple enough but I guessed there might be some interesting backstory, so I asked Ousley about the program. She described the process:
"When a listener submits a Friday Favorites request, the form comes right to my mailbox so I'm able to keep an eye on the traffic flow during the week. On Thursday afternoon, I pass those requests along to our Assistant Music Director, Jennifer Anderson. I'd be lost without her. She gathers the CDs and, when needed, does some sleuthing to figure out what listeners have in mind."
So Ousley walks into the studio with a pretty good idea of the music mix, but even with that information, she can be just as surprised as the listener. She's discovered pieces she hasn't heard before, but ultimately likes. Another happy accident is that sometimes the mix comes together well, which is difficult because as Ousley points out, "they make their requests independent of one another." And then there's the human connection of it all. Ousley recounted a recent request she found very moving:
"On [December 7] I played a request from a couple who had lost their daughter over the Summer. This request came in by telephone, so I had a chance to speak with the mom, Kathleen. She told me that her daughter loved the Beatles and that's what she hoped to hear. I explained that, unfortunately, the Beatles wouldn't be such a great fit for Friday Favorites, but asked her to tell me a little more about her daughter. Turns out she also loved Classical music and piano, in particular. I told her about a recording called "Bach Meets the Beatles" where pianist and improviser John Bayless plays tunes by the Beatles in the style of JS Bach. The one I suggested to Kathleen was "Let it Be."
As you might imagine, this was an incredibly difficult thing for Kathleen to do. Her daughter was 55 when she died. Her birthday would have been Dec 11. She was pretty emotional on the phone and when I played her request that Friday, I was too. In fact, it was hard for me to speak afterwards so I decided to segue to the next request."
Where does classical music connect with your life? Send in your request and share how a work relates to your life. Then listen to classical music on MPR from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Fridays. You might hear more than you expected.