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Ask MPR Mailbag

October 13, 2006

Why the increase in choral music and opera programming?

I have noticed a marked increase in choral music and opera in the last couple of weeks. In the last half hour you played two opera pieces (Friday 10/06/2006 around 6 p.m.). I have been a member for several years. My pleasure in listening to MPR is in listening to the great instrumental music. I do not enjoy choral or opera music. What changed?

Why don't you set aside specific times for music with voices so that those of us who do not enjoy it can know when to seek out another station? If this continues, and I find myself turning MPR off more than on, I will have to cancel my membership. Please reconsider this change in your programming.

Coon Rapids, MN

Dear Barbara, I needed some guidance in answering your question, so I journeyed to the Hall of the Classical Music Shihan, a bleak mountain redoubt less than a hundred yards from my desk. Here's what I learned:

Vocal music has always been part of our schedule. Some people feel we should play more of it, some feel we should play less, but it's always been there. And the ratio of vocal-to-instrumental music played has remained remarkably steady.

You and I could go through the playlists from the last year, I suppose, and add up the minutes devoted to vocal music. But I feel confident that we'd end up with about as much now as we had a year ago.

Shihan Rex Levang also offered this interesting insight:

"When we're looking at the flow of pieces, we often try to introduce some contrast in instrumentation and texture -- you might hear a big symphony followed by a choral piece, or a Schubert overture followed by a Schubert song. So that's one way in which vocal music appears on the playlist; but there hasn't been a specific effort to increase the amount."

Michael Popham
Minnesota Public Radio Member Listener Services