|Tim Dixon, assistant professor of music, shared his "desert island" CD and song selections on a recent episode of National Public Radio's "Desert Island Discs" program.
Messiah professor appears on National Public Radio's 'Desert Island Discs'
Each week, Harrisburg's National Public Radio affiliate (WITF, 89.5 FM) airs its Desert Island Discs program, bringing
musicians, writers, university presidents and professors, company directors, politicians, and actors onto the show to share their favorite compact discs. Tim Dixon, assistant professor of music, recently appeared on the show and shared the stories behind his selections.
Tim Dixon selected the following songs (with story excerpts from the show):
Franz Schubert, Die Schöne Müllerin
(Fritz Wunderlich, tenor)
"This is such a beautiful song cycle. When I hear it, I think of my first conducting teacher, when I was an undergrad at Miami Unviersity. This guy was incredibly caffeinated, energetic, excited, and excitable. The first songs I conducted were art songs, these particular art songs. It sounds strange, but it’s a great exercise to work on phrasing and that type of thing. Whenever I hear these, among other things, I can picture him doing these strange exercises. Like he would take his pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and put them out and he’d say, 'OK, I want you to cue the cigarettes. Make them sing. Build up enough energy that they’re going to sing.' I looked at him a little oddly, but tried it. And you know, it worked."
Miles Davis, "All Blues" from Kind of Blue
"There’s a very specific personal connection that I have to this disc, which actually doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the disc itself. Before my wife and I moved to Central PA, we were living in Iowa City, where I was at the University of Iowa, getting my doctorate. While I was there, I worked as part of the New Horizons band program. It’s this program for senior citizens who want to play instruments: some have played their whole lives and want to be in a band with other senior citizens; some have played up through high school, then maybe set their instruments down for 30 or 40 years and picked them back up; and some never played an instrument before, and they want to do it. . . . My job with the group was to conduct Silver Swing, which was the jazz band, the big band. It was a fun group of people, and I learned so much from them about everything: life, not taking yourself so seriously. It was funny being in charge of this group because, sure, I was working on my doctorate in music, but everyone knew this music so much better than I did. They all have actual memories of dances in high school and that sort of thing with all of these tunes we were playing. But when I left, they threw a big party for me, after I had graduated and was hired here. My lead alto sax player gave me this CD when I left, which I actually already had. This is a classic repertoire CD. But every time I look at it now, I think of that group, think of the great times, and I think of Ken saying, 'Enjoy it; everything goes so quickly.'"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No 40 in g
(Academy of St. Martin in the Fields - Sir Neville Marriner)
"I think it’s fair to say this is the first piece of orchestra music, of classical music, that I really fell in love with, that I got passionate about. For me, it takes me back to when I was nine years old. I was in cub scouts, and I was on a camping trip with friends from cub scouts. There was an accident on the trip where a tree fell on the tent, and killed a very close friend of mine and left me with a broken pelvis. It was of course a difficult time in my life. I spent most of my summer putting together puzzles in the basement of the house. Friends would come over and that sort of thing. But when I was putting together these puzzles, there were a bunch of records in the basement that I would take out, just old records sitting around. One of them was Mozart "40" on one side and Beethoven "5" on the other, this old Philadelphia Orchestra recording, a wonderful performance. So I had it on in the background as I was putting together puzzles, and then, over time, it just sort of seeped into me somehow. Before too long, I was stopping the puzzles and just listening, sitting with the piece. I would move to the music and engage with the piece that way. It was a very kinesthetic connection. This piece is so great; it has so many moods. It’s agitated; it’s pensive; it’s worried; it’s angry; it’s nostalgic. I had all of these feelings, and of course I was a kid, so I don’t think I had the emotional equipment to deal with it. This piece helped me to deal with that somehow. It didn’t try to make me feel better. It didn’t try to change my mood. It said my moods were OK, a real affirming of that. When I mention Mozart as one of my favorite composers, people don’t always think of him as this composer who’s got anger, we tend to think of it as sweetness and light. But there’s so much to it."
Giacomo Puccini, "Un bel di" from Madama Butterfly
(Vienna Philharmonic - Mirela Freni, Soprano, Herbert van Karajan, cond.)
Gustav Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde
(Ensemble Musique Oblique - Philippe Herreweghe, cond.)
Turlough O'Carolan, Planxty Irwin
(Nancy Bick Clark, harp)
Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5 in d
(Concertgebouw Orchestra - Bernard Haitink, cond.)
Over the Rhine, "Painted my Name" from Patience
(Over the Rhine)
Published with the permission of WITF.