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WHRB Remembers David Elliott


The David Elliott Memorial Orgy (1942-2020) will commemorate the 58 years David served as voice of Harvard Radio, and will weave together iconic and beloved moments at WHRB that tell a story of the station’s longtime mentor, host, and friend. Listeners and WHRB alumni (“ghosts”) will also be commenting throughout. The Orgy is in nine sections: Early Years, Classical Music Relations, WHRB Historian and Community Keeper, Harvard Broadcasts, Special Programs, Love of Opera, and Holiday Broadcasts. The memorial is slated for Thursday, December 24 from 8 am to 6 pm on WHRB, 95.3 FM and streaming HERE.

The Early Years section will feature a discussion of and a work from one of David’s earliest WHRB broadcasts, a series entitled Voices That Live that the Boston Globe highlighted in 1961.

The Classical Music Relations section will likely prove most interesting to the Boston classical music community. It begins with interviews David conducted with three of the most influential figures in classical music: soprano Renee Fleming, violinist Joshua Bell, and composer Aaron Copland. It continues with excerpts from David’s interviews with directors of classical music organizations in the area, including Deb Boldin from the Chameleon Arts Ensemble; Benjamin Zander from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra; Gil Rose from Odyssey Opera and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; and Kathy Fay from the Boston Early Music Festival. Key musical recordings related to David will also be heard throughout this section. These include one for which he was the recording engineer: a luminous 1971 performance of Aaron Copland’s 12 Poems of Emily Dickinson from Sanders Theatre, sung by famed soprano and long-time Boston area opera teacher Phyllis Curtin, with Copland at the piano. Tributes will also be heard from other members of the Boston classical music community, including Ryan Turner, Martin Pearlman, Ron Della Chiesa, and Susan Byers Paxson.

The WHRB Historian and Community Keeper section will highlight David’s many contributions to the WHRB community, including his annual lecture on the history of radio to new station members, excerpts from the 1985 Bach Orgy, his speech from the 1994 station move from Memorial Hall to Pennypacker Basement, and his speech from the 75th anniversary WHRB gala in 2015. The Harvard Broadcasts section will feature excerpts from the Installations of two Harvard presidents: Derek Bok and Drew Gilpin Faust. It will also include accounts of David’s annual Harvard Commencement broadcasts.

The Special Programs section will focus on David’s annual July 4th broadcasts, the hour-long Orgy “Odd Songs and a Poem, and a Lesson in Heath” which includes some of David’s favorite variety songs, and an interview with Michael Feinstein, singer of the Great American Songbook. The Love of Opera section will feature many of several of David’s pre-Met and other opera broadcasts and a look at his early love for opera. Finally, the Holiday Broadcasts section will end this memorial with excerpts from David’s annual Christmas shows.

We hope that many BMInt readers will be able to tune in to this tribute to a true and great friend of the Boston area classical music community. A more complete description can be found HERE.

Mather Pfeiffenberger (Harvard 1979), very active during his undergraduate years as a classical music radio announcer/programmer with WHRB, was one of the many beneficiaries of David Elliott’s mentoring.

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