‘A Classical Celebration’: WTJU Marathon to Air Classical Music from Antiquity to the 20th Century

December 04, 2013

Four times a year, WTJU 91.1 FM takes time out of its regular schedule to explore and celebrate the broad diversity of the four types of music it programs – rock, folk, jazz and classical.

These fun-filled weeks have a purpose: More than half of WTJU’s operating budget is funded directly by listener contributions. Raising money through programming marathons in effect keeps the music coming all year long.

Starting Monday and running through Dec. 15, WTJU listeners can hear classical music ’round the clock in educational and entertaining programs presented by the station’s knowledgeable hosts.

“By bringing classical music to the fore with 24/7 programming, WTJU hopes to remind listeners of the scope and quality of our classical musical offerings – offerings that are worthy of their support,” said Ralph Graves, who co-directs the University-owned station’s classical music programming with Deborah Murray.

This is the only time each year when WTJU’s classical department asks for financial support from its listeners. With this year’s classical marathon, WTJU is aiming to raise $40,000.

“We’re looking for a record number of first-time donors this drive,” Graves said. “If WTJU is part of your daily routine, thank a contributing listener – they make it possible.

“The more listeners that join in with a pledge, the more services we can offer to improve everyone’s listening experience.”

The classical exam marathon dates back to 1959, when WTJU began airing classical music 24/7 in early December to help University of Virginia students study for their semester exams. By the mid-1970s, these classical music marathons had become fundraisers for WTJU.

“I began working at WTJU in 2011, and to be perfectly honest, I was not hired for my depth of knowledge of classical music,” said Nathan Moore, general manager of WTJU. “But WTJU’s classical marathons have given me an enormous education in this music.”

As always, the station’s volunteer classical programmers are excited to share their passion for the music with listeners during the marathon.

“From motets of the 16th century to new compositions where the ink is still wet, WTJU’s classical department curates and shares an enormous breadth of tremendous music,” Moore said. “WTJU’s classical marathon is our annual celebration of these many styles, delivering a special week of programming to our listeners.”

A schedule of the week can be found here. Some examples include:

  • “Fantastic Finales” (Monday, 2 p.m.) explores the final codas and soul-reaching chords that send chills up the spine and create a warm inner glow;
  • “From Antiquity to the Baroque” (Monday, 6 p.m.) devotes three hours to uncovering origins of early music, highlighting the evolution of wind and stringed instruments and the intricate harmonies of the human voice;
  • “A Time for Singing: I’m Dying, Oh So Beautifully” (Tuesday, 6 p.m.) offers an abundance of notable and powerful operatic death scenes (“pledge your support so that beautiful singing can survive even the death of a tragic heroine”);
  • “Airs and Graces: British Pastoral Tradition” (Wednesday, 9 p.m.) showcases the national music developed by English composers around the turn of the 20th century steeped in folksong and the native landscape;
  • “Make ‘Em Laugh!” (Thursday, 6 a.m.) presents centuries of comedic classical music featuring clowns, witty banter and double entendre;
  • “Clash and Conflict” (Friday, 2 p.m.) guides the listener through battlefields of sound with musical depictions of war and duels by such composers as Beethoven, Liszt and Prokofiev; and
  • “Cats!” (Saturday, 2 p.m.) features a host named Francesca celebrating a fancy feast of feline-inspired classics.

In addition, from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. daily, the “Finishing Touches” programming will highlight works that were at least 85 percent written by the original composer.

Composers do not always finish what they start. Sometimes they die before completing a work. Sometimes they abandon a piece and just move on. Sometimes when a work is nearly close to being completed, another composer steps in and completes the task.

Programmed by Graves, the “Finishing Touches” overnight hours will give the listener the opportunity to hear these great works and offer a glimpse into what might have been.

Moore hopes that WTJU listeners will appreciate and enjoy the week of beautiful music – and as an act of appreciation, support the station financially.

“When you pledge your support to WTJU, you’re really giving a gift of music back to yourself,” Graves said.

WTJU-FM is a noncommercial educational radio station licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to the Rector and Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia. The station presents original and diverse programming of music and other forms of expression free from the direct constraints of commercial interests, reflecting the broadest educational goals of the University.

Media Contact

Robert Hull

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications