CD gift beefs up KRCU's classical collection

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

In December 2000, KRCU general manager Greg Petrowich and "Sunday Night at the Opera" host Barbara Herbert drove to Poplar Bluff, Mo., in a pickup truck on a mission to bring more classical music to Southeast Missouri.

In Poplar Bluff, they filled the bed of a Dodge Ram with boxes containing 1,885 classical CDs donated by a single benefactor, Dr. William Duckett. Petrowich estimates the donation augmented the public radio station's classical CD collection by about 70 percent.

Programming at Southeast Missouri State University's KRCU has benefited from the richly diverse collection of CDs for the past year, but the gift just became official with approval of the donation's $9,500 appraisal. Herbert and Tom Harte, host of the daily show "Caffe Concerto," both are ecstatic about having new tunes to spin.

"This has been like hitting the lottery," Herbert says.

Harte likens the room where the CDs are stored to a gold mine.

"We're almost giddy when we go over there," he said. "It's like going to the record store and having someone else pay the bill."

Most not in database

They often gather CDs in their arms and program their shows with the booty, using the station's regular collection as backup. Most of the CDs in the new addition haven't yet been added to the station's database of music.

"I'm trying to put them in the database," Herbert said, "but I'll never live long enough to do that."

Herbert takes the opera CDs home to preview before putting them on her show. Her library table is covered with opera CDs still to be heard.

The collection has inspired their programming, the hosts say.

Herbert, who also co-hosts the weekday "Afternoon Classics" show with Julie Neske, has been playing Duckett's Deutch Gramophone collection of Mozart piano sonatas -- all 27 of them -- performed by Geza Anda. Wednesday she played the 23rd CD in the series.

The collection includes many titles on the Musical Heritage Society label, one which records pieces in the public domain along with many obscure early music titles.

Recordings of a dozen string symphonies Felix Mendelssohn wrote as a teen-ager are Harte's favorite find in the collection.

Fresh approaches

In cases where the Duckett collection duplicates what the station already had, the symphony or the pianists usually are different, providing listeners with fresh approaches to the same works.

Duckett is an anesthesiologist who, because he moves often, had been storing his classical music collection at a family member's home in Poplar Bluff. He was living in Cape Girardeau at the time he made the donation but now lives in another state.

Petrowich said the station previously was given a collection of recordings that was more extensive, but they were LPs, which are little used anymore. Those recordings have not been catalogued.

Harte hopes the station's audience is enjoying the new musical menu and learning from it as much as the hosts are.

"There are some composers I had not known about until I saw them in this collection," he said. "It has been a musical education."

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