DJ SPOTLIGHT: Modern Romantics

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Host and senior DJ, Will Quam, talks to us about classical music and his classically themed show, Modern Romantics, which you can catch every Sunday 2-4pm EST! 

WKCO: How did you become interested in classical music?

Will: I started playing the trombone in the 4th grade. In high school, one of my best friends was really into classical music and decided he needed someone to talk to about it. He made me a mix CD and I’ve been hooked ever since.

WKCO: How and why did you decide to have a classical themed radio show at Kenyon?

Will: My friend Patrick Joyal was hosting a classical show at the time and was looking for a co-host. I’ve always encountered people who wrongly believe classical music to be dead and stuffy, and I wanted to help open the door to truly great music. The radio seemed like a great way to do that. Patrick and I also have very different tastes in classical music, so we knew we’d have a large variety of pieces. He graduated last year and I’ve kept up the spirit doing the show solo.

WKCO: Who are some of your favorite composers?

Will: My favorite composers are Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, and Antonin Dvorak. I love music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

WKCO: What is it about classical music that you like?

Will: I like the openness of interpretation it offers. The music isn’t telling you what you should feel but rather pulls genuine and spontaneous reactions from the listener. You bring your own history and experience to the listening. The listener, composer, and orchestra work together to create an aural image.

WKCO: How do you prepare for your show? What is the aim of your show?

Will: I try and give each show a theme and prepare accordingly. These themes can be as broad as “Songs of celebration” or as specific as “Choral music.” I recently did a location themed show, which featured pieces like “Capriccio Espagnol” by Rimsky-Korsakov and the classic American folk song “Shenandoah.” Once I have my theme I scan through my library and see what sticks to it. I also try and pair songs together that might compliment or contrast each other, like two different composers working in the same form (for my locations show I had two different Russians writing capriccios about southern European countries). I also make sure I know the dates for the composition and give some music history that can help the listener engage.

WKCO: How do you want listeners to listen to your show?

Will: I hope Modern Romantics draws who are classical music lovers and classical music loathers. I want them to learn something and listen to classical music a little differently.

WKCO: What do you listen to when you’re not doing your show?

Will: I listen to a lot of the same stuff off air as on. In terms of non-classical music, I really like Beirut, Wye Oak, and I’ve been getting really into The Blow lately. I also listen to a lot of Podcasts.

WKCO: Advice for first time classical listeners?

Will: Stay open to everything. Sit down with someone who really loves classical music and ask them to play stuff for you and explain what it is they love about it. If you don’t like the first thing you listen to, try again. Just as there is some very stereotypical pompous sounding stuff, there’s also a whole lotta weird shit out there too.

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