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The Open Ears Project

WNYC

Part mix tape, part sonic love-letter, the Open Ears Project is a daily podcast where people share the classical track that means the most to them. Each episode offers a soulful glimpse into other human lives, helping us to hear this music—and each other—differently. The Open Ears Project is produced by WQXR and WNYC Studios, home of great podcasts including Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media, Nancy, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.

Part mix tape, part sonic love-letter, the Open Ears Project is a daily podcast where people share the classical track that means the most to them. Each episode offers a soulful glimpse into other human lives, helping us to hear this music—and each other—differently. The Open Ears Project is produced by WQXR and WNYC Studios, home of great podcasts including Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media, Nancy, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.
More Information

Location:

United States

Networks:

WNYC

Description:

Part mix tape, part sonic love-letter, the Open Ears Project is a daily podcast where people share the classical track that means the most to them. Each episode offers a soulful glimpse into other human lives, helping us to hear this music—and each other—differently. The Open Ears Project is produced by WQXR and WNYC Studios, home of great podcasts including Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, On the Media, Nancy, and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.

Language:

English


Episodes

30. On Peace

10/9/2019
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“The language of music brings out different parts of us. It's universal. It's probably the most important thing with which [we] can make peace.” For the final episode in our opening season of The Open Ears Project, relationship therapist Esther Perel talks about the first time she heard Fauré’s Requiem as a young woman and how it seemed to “understand” an inexpressible sadness she was carrying inside her. She describes with great tenderness the way music connects her to her mother, a...

Duration:00:11:54

29. On Imperfection

10/8/2019
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“For me on a chaotic day, where maybe things are out of control or I don't have a lot of control over what's happening... I listen to this on repeat. And it smooths out some of the angular parts of the day.” Producer Krystal Hawes talks about how as a jazz student she had held classical music at a distance, thinking it was something perfect and pristine. But hearing the unexpected, almost jazz-like soundworld of Maurice Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte helped open the door to a...

Duration:00:10:13

28. On Patience

10/7/2019
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“There’s a patience that it asks for, and a patience it imparts, and you sort of have to be tall enough to ride this ride.” In this episode, Dessa talks about how when her father played her the “Chaconne” from J.S. Bach’s Partita for Violin in D Minor as part of a classical music “starter kit”, the piece immediately spoke to her, not just because she finds an unexpected connection between rap and classical music, but in how its range of emotions, and its interplay between beauty and anger...

Duration:00:18:40

27. On History

10/6/2019
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“It changed my life… I had this revelation, juxtaposing my own privilege and the lucky life I had, compared to what she had gone through.” In this episode, Jesse Eisenberg talks about how a trip to visit family in Poland made him realize how removed he had been from the experience of the Holocaust, and how that sense of guilt inspired him to write The Revisionist, his play about a cousin who’d survived the the Holocaust. To create the right sense of place, Jesse used Polish expatriate...

Duration:00:05:52

26. On A Journey

10/5/2019
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“It just makes me feel so much, this piece. There’s something happening here that’s so incredibly sweet but also so mournful.” In this episode, Christopher Wheeldon talks about how he discovered Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev after seeing his first ballet, Romeo and Juliet, at the Royal Opera House. He later fell in love with Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto, wearing out a cassette tape of it in the process of playing it over and over. The music stuck with him for years to come, and...

Duration:00:17:22

25. On What Changed My Life

10/4/2019
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“If the lights were on in the audience, listening to this music I would just be flayed open...” Children’s author and television producer Megan Reid talks about how a performance of choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain sparked her lifelong obsession with ballet. Watching the ballet’s second half, a stark dance duet set to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, Reid found that great dance — like great writing — created a world she wanted to live in...

Duration:00:13:09

24. On Overcoming Adversity

10/3/2019
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“Beethoven, the guy who created art to speak to justice and equality. The guy who loved family, you know, so close to his mother — like I am.” WQXR evening host Terrance McKnight talks about a late Beethoven bagatelle and how the composer’s perseverance in the face of adversity draws a connection between, family, art, and the Langston Hughes poem “Life is Fine.” Terrance McKnight is the evening host at WQXR. Did you like the track Terrance chose? Listen to the music in full:

Duration:00:08:34

23. On Imagination

10/2/2019
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“When I was younger, classical music was only played in, like, bookstores... But nowadays you can expose children to the music in a way that allows them just to appreciate [it] without any stereotypes.” In this episode, New York City preschool teacher Justin Jackson tells us how Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King inspired him as a child to march around the living room, and how he shares that excitement with his young students as he passes on his love of creativity,...

Duration:00:05:45

22. On Just Letting Go

10/1/2019
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“When I hear that piece playing, my back relaxes, actually. That's where I carry all my stress.” In this episode, Alison talks about how she gave up learning the piano when she was young after the sudden death of her piano teacher, and how the rocking ebbs and flows of Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 helped her come back to the instrument as an adult — and learn to let go. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to receive a new episode every day or delve deeper into our companion...

Duration:00:08:06

21. On Perspective

9/30/2019
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"I think that’s the beauty of music, there’s eternity in it. And I think that’s true also of architecture even in ruined architecture, you can see an [eternal] sense of a spirit.” Architect Daniel Libeskind talks about listening to the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by J. S. Bach, and how music, like architecture, creates a shared space — rooted in memory but looking ahead to eternity — that connects us all. Daniel Libeskind is an Polish-American architect best known for designing the...

Duration:00:13:57

20. On Resolution

9/29/2019
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“It’s a sad peacefulness that sometimes we all need. When we need to take a breath — just before starting something new.” WQXR’s Jacqui Cheng talks about her journey in finding the Adagio movement from J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1. Her interest in Bach started with the soundtrack to the Atari 2600 game “Gyruss” (which included 8-bit snippets of Bach's Fugue in D Minor), and led her to the public library, where she found emotional comfort in Bach’s resolution of dissonances. Subscribe...

Duration:00:08:16

19. On Time And Consciousness

9/28/2019
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“There [are] so many emotions in the piece, and so many states of consciousness — there's not one thing. There's an intensity of relationships that unfold over time.” Trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis talks about how Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 helped him understand the role of music — and the musician — in connecting the past and the future. Beyond his technical achievements, Marsalis relates with Beethoven’s ability to unflinchingly investigate and combine conflicting...

Duration:00:06:33

18. On Nourishing The Soul

9/27/2019
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“The best children's books have this moment of ‘Why am I here? What am I doing?’ ... And I feel that in this music.” In this episode, Eva talks about how, each evening after finishing her day job at Instagram and spending time with her two young children, she resets by putting on the first movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17. The piece’s emotional transitions help put her into the mindset of Juno Valentine, the heroine of her children’s book series. Subscribe wherever you get your...

Duration:00:17:43

17. On Elevation

9/26/2019
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“It actually takes you off the ground. You are floating in the clouds, which doesn't make logical sense, but that's what it feels like.” Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard talks about Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune, and how its emotional pulse takes him outside the flow of metronomic time and into the deep connections he feels with his family and audience. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to receive a new episode every day or delve deeper into our companion playlist. Eddie Izzard...

Duration:00:08:54

16. On Forgiveness

9/25/2019
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“I think I've learned to not take things so personally through this piece of music.” In this episode, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges discusses the song “When I am laid in earth”, also known as “Dido’s Lament”. It’s a stunning aria from Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas in which Dido laments over her broken heart after her lover, the Trojan war hero Aeneas, abandons her. The song gave Bridges insight into the nature of memory and respect that she’s taken to heart, and illustrates one of...

Duration:00:10:44

15. On How We Listen

9/24/2019
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“Not only did it change how I listen to music. It absolutely changed how I listen to people.” When Joe Young, army reservist and New York Public Radio receptionist, was stationed in Texas, part of his job in the army band was to play the “Taps” bugle call for soldiers who didn’t return from deployment. The experience left him facing a crisis of confidence, until he came across Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians which gave him a new perspective on how to listen to more than just the...

Duration:00:11:05

14. On A Quiet Kind Of Miracle

9/23/2019
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“In a scene of such brutality, to have something of such delicacy must have been a quiet kind of miracle.” Writer Robert Macfarlane remembers how he first read about Chopin’s Berceuse in the wartime diaries of Welsh poet Edward Thomas, whose nature writing inspired Macfarlane’s own. Thomas, who died in 1917 on the Western Front, chronicled how he and his fellow soldiers found moments of peace in music — including this lullaby, which helped them find sleep on what would be their final...

Duration:00:09:41

13. On Empathy

9/22/2019
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“The possibility for you as a listener is to open yourself up enough be taken somewhere that seems far from you.” Nicola Benedetti tells us how as a 10-year-old she first heard the second movement of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, and without knowing what “this thing from heaven” was, the sound resonated with her in a way she couldn't quite yet understand. Over 20 years later, having played it in concert halls around the world, she reflects on the concerto's ability to capture the full range...

Duration:00:14:59

12. On Finding Your Truth

9/21/2019
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“For me, this is a melody of truth.” Lee Hill, Director of Public Engagement at New York Public Radio, talks about how “Little's Theme”, from Nicholas Britell’s score for Moonlight, let him find a way to stand in his own truth. Hill connected with the film like few other works of art he’d experienced, and the score voiced feelings he had never been able to put into words, centering him in his own experience and building a connection with other listeners. Subscribe wherever you get your...

Duration:00:04:55

11. On American Beauty

9/20/2019
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“Music defies language in so many ways. One of its joys is that it takes words and direct meaning and narrative out of the equation.” In this episode, Sam Mendes talks about how, when he was looking for music to capture the emotional dissonances of the opening sequence of American Beauty, he found the perfect mood with Carl Orff’s Gassenhauer (which, in turn, inspired Thomas Newman’s Oscar-nominated score). Today the music still reminds Sam of this happy, creative period in his life, and of...

Duration:00:08:24