I was scribbling in a notebook at work the other day when someone walked by and asked what I was doing. I said I was working on a morning playlist for Classical 91.5 for Election Day. He stared at the page and said, “You should post that. People would be interested.”
Like many Americans, I’ve been fascinated and dismayed by the 2016 U.S. presidential race. I’ve checked The New York Times political meter at 2:00 a.m. to see the latest odds. I’ve scrolled tens of thousands of tweets and spent evenings with my family watching the PBS Newshour followed by comedians cheerfully picking the low-hanging fruit provided by both Democrats and Republicans. We laugh along with Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, and Stephen Colbert, but at my house, the laughter is often grim. The race is too ugly. There’s too much at stake. Election Day is about who we are as a country.
Classical 91.5 has branded its service as an escape from the ugliness. On Election Day morning, I hope you’ll lose yourself in the pure sensation of music from early Baroque to the present day. Sure, music helps us forget our worries. But I also intend to create a layered experience for core listeners who are really paying attention.
First, the Election Day morning playlist is diverse; we’ll hear from women, African American and Native American composers alongside Rossini and Pachelbel.
Second, you’ll also hear a few sly allusions to the presidential race such as the “Waltz of the Puppet” from Coppelia (“No puppet. YOU’RE the puppet! YOU’RE the puppet!”) and Chopin’s fiery “Revolutionary” Etude No. 12. The very first piece on the playlist at 6:05 a.m. is a new fanfare for organ and brass. It's a new piece of music signifying a new chapter in history.
Finally, we’ll hear a lot of American music that expresses the best impulses in all of us. In Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land Suite, for example, a choir sings these words by Horace Everett:
The promise of ending in right understanding
is peace in our own hearts and peace with our neighbor.
O let us sing our song, and let our song be heard.
Let’s sing our song with our hearts, and find a promise in that song.
Election Day is about the promise of living, labor, and sharing our loving.
Thank you for listening and please vote on Tuesday, November 8th.