Music News & Reviews

Capital Public Radio doubles down on ‘Sunday Baroque’ amid push to add diversity

Flutist Suzanne Bona visits Sacramento to promote an expanded “Sunday Baroque.”
Flutist Suzanne Bona visits Sacramento to promote an expanded “Sunday Baroque.” NPR

Sacramento’s Capital Public Radio is doubling down on baroque music with an expansion of Suzanne’s Bona’s syndicated “Sunday Baroque” from two hours to four hours, beginning next weekend. Bona herself is coming to the capital city on Friday, August 23, to observe the occasion and participate in a live broadcast performance with KXPR’s own Jennifer Reason.

“We’re thrilled that KXPR is expanding their broadcast to all four hours, coinciding with the weekend that Jennifer and I are performing!” said Bona in an email. “We produce four original hours of ‘Sunday Baroque’ each week, 52 weeks a year. Each hour is self-contained, and stations can choose to broadcast the number of hours that meets their listeners’ needs.”

“Sunday Baroque” is aired each weekend on approximately 200 radio stations, as well as on an audio stream.

“Baroque music’s melodic and harmonic structures have a certain familiarity to them,” she said. “They can be almost like popular music. A listener doesn’t have to know a thing about music to hear it and relate to it. Also, music is always the ‘star’ on ‘Sunday Baroque.’”

Bona is a classically trained flutist, while Reason is similarly skilled on the piano. After being jointly interviewed on air at 9 a.m. by Reason’s CapRadio colleague Kevin Doherty, the two women will perform a live concert.

“As soon as Jennifer and I started talking about this collaboration,” said Bona, “we clicked in terms of the kind of program we wanted to craft together. It’s a pleasure and thrill to work with someone who is so accomplished, creative, and fearless! Jennifer and I have chosen a program with variety and a connective thread to give it a nice flow. The music is entertaining, interesting, and a lot of it will likely be ‘new’ for many listeners. There are two Baroque-era composers — Princess Amalia and George Frideric Handel — and the rest are living composers: John Rutter, Dianne Rahbee, and Judith Zaimont.”

“Of course, we are playing some baroque selections,” said Reason in an email, “because you can’t exactly feature the host of ‘Sunday Baroque’ without a nod in that direction! But I’m proud to say we are presenting a very balanced and interesting program. We will also play modern music by living American and female composers.” Reason also noted that Princess Amalia of Prussia is “one of the very rare female composers from the Baroque era.”

But it’s not only the Baroque era in which women were poorly represented in the ranks of composers. The modern concert hall often offers events where every single work on the program is by a male composer. Both Bona and Reason see opportunities to address the imbalance.

“On ‘Sunday Baroque,’” said Bona, “I like to focus not just on composers, but on performers, too, including outstanding women. That’s where we can fill in some of the gaps for listeners in today’s world.”

Reason offered data to support the drive for diversity: “We are working hard here at CapRadio to improve the inclusivity and relevance of our programming, and I can prove it: over the last months we’ve played 265 selections by females and that number is only going up. And it’s not just us, lots of other groups and organizations are doing it, too. For example, next year’s Festival of New American Music, long hosted by Sac State, will be exclusively female composers. I also see a lot of action-inducing talk happening on social media around this subject, which is incredibly positive and makes me rather hopeful for the future.”

Listen in

Capital Public Radio

KXPR, FM 88.9

9 a.m. to 10 a.m., Friday, August 23

“Sunday Baroque”