Brian McCreath | Classical Weekend


Brian McCreath  Brian McCreath

"The best part of my job is the exchange with listeners that comes from living every day with music."

Background:  Born in Chicago (home of legendary brass players), I grew up in Texas (home of legendary marching bands), so maybe it makes sense that I ended up as a professional trumpeter. And it wouldn’t have happened without Boston: I studied at the New England Conservatory before moving on to play in everything from chamber music groups and orchestras to a backup band for a group of Beatles impersonators in Mexico City. Eventually, though, the glamour and glitter of the low-wage, no-benefits, terrible-hours, no-job-security world of the music couldn’t compete with public radio, and I found myself having more fun talking about and connecting audiences to music than actually playing it.

Nickname: Dad (but only a couple of people actually use it)

First album I ever owned: Three Dog Night’s Greatest Hits (I was 7, I think, and it was all about "Joy to the World").  As for classical music, Cornet Favorites, a collection of turn-of-the-20th-century solos like “Carnival of Venice” and “Bride of the Waves,” with Gerard Schwarz soloing in his preconducting days

Five desert island albums: 1. Bach’s Magnificat, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe 2. Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under James Levine 3. Gabrieli’s Canzoni from Sacrae Symphonie, with the brass sections of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Cleveland Orchestra 4. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, with soloist Murray Perahia 5. The Best of Silly Wizard

Favorite podcast: The Bugle (it’s got nothing to do with being a trumpet player)

Greatest places to see live music: Of those I’ve been to, Symphony Hall and Jordan Hall here in Boston deserve their high reputations. The Philharmonie in Berlin is extraordinary as well.

Most memorable concert: Sorry, can’t pick just one - 1985, Chicago: Mahler’s Fifth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Georg Solti - 1987, Wooster, Ohio: guitarist David Russell (recital) - 1990, Boston: Brahms’s Second Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Haitink - 2006, Cambridge: Eighth Blackbird, playing music by Frederic Rzewski, Thierry de Mey, Derek Bermel, and others

Favorite movie about music/musician: Everyone loves Amadeus, and I have no problem with that. But have you seen Ken Russell’s Mahler? And if you can track it down, find Das Reichorchester: The Berlin Philharmonic and the Nazis for a disturbing look at what drives the artistic mind. For kids, you cannot beat the original Fantasia.

Favorite book about music/musician: Bach: The Learned Musician, by Harvard’s Christoph Wolff, is the very definition of a word critics keep close at hand: magisterial. On a more popular, but no less engaging, level, try Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment, by James R. Gaines. And Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century will probably last far beyond the 21st century as being essential.

When not listening to classical music, I listen to whatever my kids demand (luckily, they have pretty decent taste); otherwise, Celtic (Old Blind Dogs), Tony Bennett, and Hank Williams (Sr.).

Finest moment on the air: Too many to count, and always when great music is playing and I’m not talking.

Most embarrassing moment on the air: Survival-oriented selective memory loss prevents me from answering this question.

If I weren’t a radio host, I’d be a coffee barrista in Seward, Alaska.

The best part of my job is the exchange with listeners that comes from living every day with music.

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