Background: I was hearing piano music even before I was born, thanks to my mom, who was a teacher and a ferociously talented player. I remember being very small and sitting under our Steinway to get the full effect while she flew through Ravel and Beethoven. I went the pianist route, too, and both of my degrees are from the New England Conservatory. I taught at Clark University and the University of Massachusetts. Then I had my beautiful daughters. And then the radio bug bit me, and here I am. I still love to sit under the piano – especially when my partner, Marc-André Hamelin, is playing!
First album I ever owned: I don’t really remember – they were mostly my sister’s. And my father, a composer, had LPs of contemporary music lining all the walls of his studio.
Five desert island albums: Here are four, all of them precious because they were my introductions to the music: Beethoven's Seventh Symphony with Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic (DG); Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 played by the composer, Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff (RCA); Schumann's Dichterliebe with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau; Debussy's La Mer (Bernstein and NY Phil) (Sony)
Favorite podcast: WGBH Classical Performance podcast, of course!
Greatest place to see live music: Ah, this is hard! Some places will surprise you. I remember hearing a piano recital on the rocks at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Cassis, France. Who would have thought it would have produced such magic? Hearing music at Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory is like sitting inside a jewel box. I’ve always said that when the hall DISAPPEARS, then you know it’s a great place.
Most memorable concert: There are too many, alhough I have strong and warm feelings about my first Tanglewood experience when I was barely 11. My Dad brought me to see Weissenberg play the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto. I remember being very close to the stage and feeling the thrill of the open air mingling with this music — the stars, the moon, the breeze, and Rachmaninoff — what a magical mixture it was.
Favorite movie about music/musician: Well, it’s got a lot of problems, but after Ed Harris came for an interview on my show, I grew fond of Copying Beethoven. He came to love the late string quartets, and my young daughter became fascinated with the Grosse Fugue. That’s saying a lot for that movie!
Favorite book about music/musician: Maynard Solomon’s Beethoven
When not listening to classical, I listen to: jazz. I also hear a fair number of contemporary singer/songwriters and pop, thanks to my youngest daughter, Sam.
Finest moment on the air: Oh, that’s just too hard. If I’ve successfully caused someone to stop and be authentically stirred, then that’s my finest moment.
Most embarassing moment on the air: Please don’t make me live it again...
If I weren’t a radio host, I’d be a pianist.
The best part of my job is hearing that I’ve helped someone to discover the depth and humanity in music. Also, meeting some of the most fascinating, enchanting, and miraculous people in the world!