Reaction: Parker to Lead WQXR
Monday, June 21, 2010
Graham Parker, currently the executive director of the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, will become the Vice President of the station, which is owned and operated by New York Public Radio.
"I can't recall anything in recent history where the radio side of the business has drawn from the executive pool of the orchestra administration side," says Drew McManus, who runs Adaptistration, a blog about the business of classical music. "It will be interesting to see what qualities and revenue streams will and won't carry over."
McManus says that orchestra managers, due to the non-commercial nature of classical music, are by necessity able fundraisers, and that Parker's long-established relationships with donors could be an asset for the station. He also suspects that Parker's experience working with orchestras could help navigate other issues, such as live-broadcast agreements. In his role at Orpheus, Parker has worked WQXR and NPR on a series of live broadcasts from Carnegie Hall.
"He's been at Orpheus for long time, which is good thing to see in an executive. Too often they jump around the career ladder," says McManus. "At the same time – it's not a bad thing for a group to get a new leader, just to get some fresh ideas."
Parker has led Orpheus for over seven years. Previously, he headed the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra.
"Graham has brought Orpheus some great energy," says Jeremy Denk, the author of classical music blog Think Denk and himself a pianist who has performed with Orpheus.
“It’s a really difficult job to administer an ensemble and maybe especially Orpheus," says Denk. The ensemble differs from most in that it is does not have a conductor. The players themselves have a say in the programming and the management of the group. "It involves building relationships with tons of musicians. Hopefully he'll bring that perspective to the station," says Denk.
In the fall of 2009, WQXR changed hands from the New York Times Company to New York Public Radio, switching from a commercial station to a public radio station in the process. The changeover ignited controversy among longtime WQXR listeners, who feared that the type of programming, characterized by a focus on the classical canon, would change under the new owners.
Others feel differently.
"WNYC has always had a wonderful history of presenting new music," says Frank Oteri, composer advocate of the American Music Center and the Founding Editor of web magazine New Music Box. "I wish the same was true of WQXR.”
Oteri says that concern for contemporary classic music is vital a successful classical music format.
Currently, WQXR hosts Q2, a web-only music stream that highlights new music.
Despite losing listeners in New York City suburbs now out of range, the overall listenership of the station has steadily increased. WQXR is now the nation's most-listened-to public radio station.