Long time radio host and pianist Marvin Rosen brings his annual 24-hour holiday season marathon of new music — “Viva 21st Century” — to the WPRB Radio airwaves and internet on Sunday and Monday, December 27 and 28.
Rosen, who in addition to being a music instructor at Westminster Conservatory, produces the Princeton University station’s weekly “Classical Discoveries” program on Wednesday mornings, says during a recent telephone interview, “I am doing everything at home.”
Talking about the transition of broadcasting from a studio with technical support to doing it from a back room in his Princeton home, Rosen says, “I have to say, four months ago the thought of doing something this year was in my wildest dreams. My last show at the studio was March 11. The station has been closed since mid-March.”
“I have to give all the WPRB management credit,” he continues. “They really work hard. They got us on the air in May. It was a lot of stuff to learn at home — doing radio online and recording at home. And I was a nervous wreck about the first several shows here. I was afraid something was going to go wrong. But then I got more comfortable.”
The WPRB volunteer who has been hosting the weekly ASCAP Award-winning program exploring music since 1997 says his home studio work got easier when he purchased of a new computer and had an easier way to move between musical tracks.
But there were other obstacles. That includes monitoring the use of the bathroom next to his home studio and making sure the room’s telephone is disconnected.
Then there was the very recent example. “Today something happened that was really weird. Can you believe, after all these radios shows, I forgot to plug in my router in my dead zone area of the house? Your mind goes in another zone. There are so many things that we take for granted.”
That includes his freely wandering house cats, including one that was settled in the room when Rosen closed the door and started his program and made an audible appearance meowing to be let out.
“We’re learning so many new things,” he says. “And in terms of good stuff, I don’t have to drive to the studio or worry about bad weather. I had a marathon and there was a blizzard. I got there, but some of the guest had a problem.” He also says his wife, Beata, loves not having to arrive at the studio with meals.
“But the most important thing is that I can do my broadcasts,” says Rosen. “Doing the marathon and all my radio programs clears my mind and keeps me focused and not worrying about what is going on (in the world). It’s like my Prozac.
“And the quality of the actual broadcast is very good. A friend listening to me on the air live from home said, ‘You would never know you were not in a studio.’”
But, he adds, “I miss being live in the studio.”
Rosen says the upcoming marathon will go live and nonstop from noon on December 27 to noon on December 28.
During that time he will feature approximately 100 new works by an equal representation of men and women composers — giving this year’s show the subtitle “50/50.”
“This is a work in progress, and I still have a lot of programming to do,” he says several days before the broadcast. “I am taking composer submissions. I have been getting files from composers from all over the world. It is amazing how many of them that are out there and how talented they are. I feel so good that I am offering this service. This year I have so many people who had never submitted before. I have heard from some younger composers and those who aren’t known here. It is exciting to have the opportunity to present their music.”
Rosen’s efforts are also attracting attention outside of Princeton. Recently, the British-based Musicweb posted an announcement directing its international followers to the marathon and Rosen’s intent to highlight 21st-century composers on his regular Wednesday program through January, 2021.
As the site says about the marathon, “There will be others contributing to the program, including regular MWI critic Richard Hanlon. Listeners will be able to listen online and even contribute to the discussion via listener chat, Facebook, and Twitter. To get an idea of the breadth of music involved, readers can access previous years’ playlists at the Classical Discoveries website www.classicaldiscoveries.org.”
“The diversity of styles is limitless in the work of our living composers,” says Rosen. “Many of them will be influenced by rock, hip hop, jazz, electronic music. There is a lot of avant-garde and a lot of composers writing middle-of-the-road music — elements of everything.
He says he is also finding a growing audience of young listeners. “The music of today speaks to young people because the influences are so vast. It comes from the music they’re familiar with if they’re from another ethnic background. And it is all coming from their lifetimes. It is their experience. That’s the main thing.”
For more information on Marven Rosen, his weekly “Classical Discoveries” program, and the December 27 and 28 “Viva 21st Century” marathon, visit www.wprb.com, www.classicaldiscoveries.org, or www.facebook.com/events/416847949726246.