Musical tales: Radio host McGlaughlin explores music in BGSU talk
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor
Thursday, 08 November 2012 10:49
Bill McGlaughlin has stories to tell.
|Guest artist Bill McGlaughlin, left, offers conducting tips at BGSU. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The musician and radio personality is on the Bowling Green State university campus this week as the Dorothy and DuWayne Hansen Musical Arts Series guest artist. McGlaughlin hosts "Exploring Music" which is heard at 11 a.m. every weekday morning on WGTE-FM.
Wednesday night, McGlaughlin told stories about his own adventures in music from playing harmonica at home with his father at 6 to traveling with Aaron Copland.
Along the way he asserted the importance of music in people's lives.
While many lament the shrinking audience for classical music, he maintained that more people than ever listen to classical music. It may not be in the concert hall, but over the internet.
Still music in the schools is endangered. "It's a crime, maybe it's a sin," McGlaughlin said. Generations of young people are reaching adulthood without a hands-on connection to music.
Reaching out to young people in one of his purposes in life. "Sometimes I think it'll get under their skin and do some good," he said.
During his talk he played a couple spots, under two minutes, introducing classical music to the uninitiated.
They were the idea of the "frat house guys" he works with at WQXR.
Being a radio host, though, is just one of the many jobs he's had. He came up as a trombone player, working with the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh orchestras. He is a conductor. He is a composer.
And, College of Musical Arts Dean Jeffrey Showell who played viola in a Tucson orchestra under McGlaughlin, said, he's more than anything a raconteur.
With McGlaughlin spending the week on campus, he's had a chance to bring all those skills into play.
He worked with student composers. Will conduct university ensembles. Coached trombone ensembles. And told stories, and probably collected a few more to tell.
McGlaughlin said he'd never been to Bowling Green, but had heard glowing accounts from musicians who had lived here.
He gave a talk Tuesday night at the Arts Village, a living community for artists of all stripes. "Such bright, incredible kids," he said. "I didn't want to go home."
He ended watching the election returns with them "because they have such interesting takes."
McGlaughlin had his first exposure to music when he was 6. His father a draftsman loved music, especially opera, but didn't know much about it. Still he bought his son a harmonica, and gave him one elementary lesson in how it worked.
When McGlaughlin asked his for a second lesson, his father just told him to play the songs he knew. Together they would play, arias, folk tunes and popular songs.
"Think about what I was learning playing with my Pop," he said. "Music is such a phenomenal joy and you do it with someone you love and you use your ear. Those are the best lessons."
So much happened by accident. He started piano lessons because his brother quit and his parents had already paid for the lessons. He came away from his second piano lesson at 13 and decided he wanted to be a musician. That came at an opportune time, he just realized that he'd stopped growing and wasn't going to fulfill his childhood ambition of playing professional basketball.
He started playing baritone horn because when he showed up to join the high school band, the baritone horn player had quit. He later switched to trombone.
He ended up becoming a broadcaster because he would do the announcing on concerts when he conducted the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. The concerts were broadcast, and someone at the station heard him.
The station asked him to fill in for another St. Paul radio host Garrison Keillor who did a drive time show and had just launched his own weekly program.
McGlaughlin said his aim with his shows, which he researches himself, is to tell stories about the music.
He explained how in studying an early Aaron Copland piano piece, written before the composer had adapted his populist style, he came across one chord that struck him.
He played it and thought it sounded familiar. Then he realized that in that chord was the germ of Copland's ballet "Appalachian Spring."
He later toured with Copland with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Copland conducted part of the program, but he also enjoyed just sitting and listening to the orchestra play his works.
McGlaughlin and the other Hansen guest, jazz singer Karrin Allyson, remain on campus throughout the week.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 November 2012 11:30