WQXR Presents New Season of The Open Ears Project
Weekly podcast shares personal reflections on the power of classical music to comfort, transform and heal
Debuts Monday, February 12 with actor Tom Hiddleston sharing a moment of awe and connection inspired by Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel“
Additional guests include award-winning novelist JENNIFER EGAN, conductor MARIN ALSOP, comedian and podcaster DEBORAH FRANCES WHITE, New Yorker writer DEXTER FILKINS, multi-genre recording artist DAMIEN SNEED, theoretical cosmologist JANNA LEVIN, Grammy-nominated composer NATHALIE JOACHIM
(New York, NY – February 6, 2024) WQXR will launch the new season of the podcast, The Open Ears Project, on February 12. From tales of memorable moments in nature and fleeting encounters with strangers – to recollections of music that helped in difficult times – Open Ears features people sharing a personal story about the classical track that means the most to them, and why. Each testimonial is followed by a complete recording of the classical piece. An audio trailer is available here.
This season’s guests include a wide range of voices – many in creative fields – including actors, authors, and journalists, as well classical and genre-busting musicians and conductors, who share the music that inspires their journey.
Part mixtape, part sonic love letter, Open Ears creates a moment to reflect on the question: what if we made a habit of opening our ears — to classical music and to each other? Whether listeners are seeking an introduction to new pieces or encounters with powerful storytelling, each episode provides a brief but enduring meditation with artistic works and soulful stories spanning the range of the human experience. New episodes drop every Monday so listeners can start their week on the right note.
The Open Ears Project was created by Clemency Burton-Hill. This season is hosted by WQXR’s Terrance McKnight.
“Open Ears embraces everything we aspire to be at WQXR: accessible, passionate, curious and committed to sharing great music,” said Ed Yim, Chief Content Officer and Senior Vice President, WQXR. “This series highlights the role music can play in our lives at times of happiness and optimism, sadness and uncertainty. We are indebted to our dear friend and former colleague, Clemency Burton-Hill, for envisioning these conversations with people from so many different perspectives and life experiences who are nonetheless bound by a shared belief in the power of music. We’re so proud to present another season of Open Ears at a time when we could all use a dose of joy and reflection in our lives.”
“The impact that a single piece of music can have in someone’s life is immeasurable,” said WQXR Host Terrance McKnight. “Many, if not most of us, have had an experience that is indelibly tied to a particular piece of music. When our guests share their stories, these stories inspire others. Clemency wanted to create a show to inspire people through music. She did it, and it’s an honor for me to continue on this journey.”
Episodes include the following guests:
- Actor Tom Hiddleston recalls driving to a hiking spot in northwest Scotland when “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt played on the radio, synchronizing with the landscape and evoking in him a sense of the eternal and the power of art to remind us of our humanity.
- Grammy-nominated composer Nathalie Joachim shares her love for Brahms and how his use of rhythm reminds her of the music from her family’s native Haiti.
- During his time covering the Iraq War for the New York Times, Dexter Filkins (now a writer at The New Yorker) witnessed impossible scenes of suffering. He found respite in the music of Ravel, particularly the second movement of the Piano Concerto in G major.
- Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan remembers falling in love with Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor the very first time she heard it — and talks about how its continual surprises inspire her to this day.
- American Novelist Garth Greenwell grew up queer in Kentucky. He shares how a movement from Benjamin Britten’s song cycle, “Winter Words,” as performed by Britten’s life partner Peter Pears, inspired hope and provided a vision of queer love.
- Comedian and author Deborah Frances-White marvels at a trio from Mozart’s opera “Così fan tutte” and shares a story about the longing and loss for all the loves that might have been.
- Musician Damien Sneed reflects on Étude No. 3, “Un sospiro,” by Franz Liszt and how performing this piece for his family let him loosen his grip around ideas of adoption, rejection, and acceptance.
- Pianist Víkingur Ólafsson muses on the unpredictability of both his homeland of Iceland and of the Baroque “futurist” Rameau.
- Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter discusses the role that one of Bach’s best-known works, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” has played in her life — ushering her through moments of both tragedy and celebration.
- Conductor Marin Alsop guides us through the unforgettable finale of Symphony No. 9 by her hero, Beethoven, and how this music serves as a testament to human connection.
WQXR is New York City’s only all-classical music station, immersing listeners in the city’s rich musical life on-air at 105.9FM, online at WQXR.org, and in the community through live events and performances. An essential partner to the city’s musical and cultural organizations, WQXR presents new and archival classical recordings and performances from New York City’s esteemed performance venues. Signature programs include Carnegie Hall Live, Metropolitan Opera Saturday Matinee Broadcasts, New York Philharmonic This Week, New York in Concert, and the Young Artists Showcase. WQXR also produces podcasts that showcase compelling storytelling and powerful music: The Open Ears Project, Made in New York: The NY Philharmonic Story, Every Voice with Terrance McKnight, Helga, and Aria Code, a joint project with the Metropolitan Opera. As a public media station, WQXR is supported through the generosity of its members, donors, and sponsors, making classical music relevant, accessible and inspiring for all.