Music with Minnesotans: Erik Hare

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
January 18, 2012
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St. Paul, Minn. — Writer and political consultant Erik Hare listens all day to Classical MPR. He calls the composers friends and companions. They inspire him and help him write.

Erik sent me a rather flattering letter to try and get on Music with Minnesotans. Well, ok, with me, flattery sorta can get you everywhere, but before saying yes, I did ask for a playlist.

At first he said pretty, please can we play the entire Ring Cycle?

Uh, no.

Writing can be a lonesome job. Classical music is my way of inviting old friends to drop by for a break or a little inspiration.
- Erik Hare

That was just to break the ice. Actually Erik sent a gorgeous playlist. And since he's a writer, he also sent accompanying reasons these pieces made the cut in some of the most lovely, persuasive prose.

You will love our talk, because here is a writer who speaks like he writes. Erik should be on radio. He speaks colorfully, descriptively, eloquently and in complete paragraphs.

And he tells stories that kept me transfixed. This DJ could learn a little from her guest, for sure!

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Erik Hare's playlist:

J.S. Bach, Concerto for Three Harpsichords: Allegro - English Concert/Trevor Pinnock

Modest Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition: The Great Gate of Kiev - Barry Douglas

Ludwig van Beethoven, Egmont Overture - German Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Harding

Irving Berlin, Dancing Cheek to Cheek - Fred Astaire

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Just for fun, here is a short essay by Erik Hare on one of the pieces in his playlist:

Writing can be a lonesome job, stuffed into whatever corner of the house is catching the sun on a winter's day. Classical music, either with MPR or a pile of CDs, is my way of inviting old friends to drop by for a break or a little inspiration. One of the more reliable partners in art is Johann Sebastian Bach, who can describe certain emotions in ways simple words never quite get.

The third movement of his Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in C, (BWV 1064) is a favorite because it feels like a quick moment, possibly an overhead conversation. There is a pensive longing tinged with anxiety and a gentle pulse that paces it, slowly at times and then passionately. In a glance it burns like two lovers arguing over their own desire for more against their own insecurity and fear of rejection. They finally resolve through the solo that their heartbeats will carry them through, and their love wells up to overtake them as it ends.

The emotions of this moment played as music, across time and language brings it right into the guts. Words seem so inadequate next to this inspiration.

It also is my favorite example of the Bach "Irrepressible Theme" that keeps coming back when you least expect it. The theme is lost, the bass line flares in a sparkling riff, and it and the fiddles drift in a sigh. Just when it all seems lost, the theme bubbles back up like a spring. If it is a dialogue, it is fortunate that it always comes back to what keeps the two together.

I feel the "Old Wig" smile every time he tells me this short story. He is a good friend.

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Next time, theatre director/producer Joan Potter is my guest. She recently traveled to Peru to hike to Machu Pichu and experienced an awe-inspiring sight when the clouds way below her started to rise up the mountains. The scene brought some of the most soulful music into her mind.

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