WQXR Announces 2021 STAR Initiative to Support New York City’s Creative Communities

By Chris Ruel

WQXR, New York City’s only all-classical radio station, announced four platforms to aid the city’s creative community and sustain the arts culture for which The Big Apple is famous. The station’s multi-pronged approach named STAR (Salutes The ARts) represents the first initiative led by WQXR’s new Chief Content Officer and Senior Vice President, Ed Yim.

STAR comprises four initiatives: the Artist Propulsion Lab, Project Airlift, New York in Concert, and Programming Partnerships with NYC’s cultural institutions.

The Artist Propulsion Lab will support six New York metropolitan area-based performers by providing a $15,000 honorarium along with a budget of up to $5000 to engage with collaborators and commission works. The selected artists will perform in The Jerome L. Greene Space for digital and on-air distribution; be given opportunities for on-air hosting and curation opportunities; share their music on WNYC’s “Morning Edition” and engage the community through family-oriented digital content among other opportunities such as leading public masterclasses and giving interviews.

The six 2021 Artist Propulsion Lab artists are Jordan Bak (viola); Brandon Patrick George (flute); The Junction Trio (Conrad Tao, piano; Stefan Jackiw, violin; and Jay Campbell, cello); Kelly Hall-Tompkins, violin; Orion Weiss, piano; and Kara Dugan, mezzo-soprano.

“Project Airlift” provides complimentary on-air promotion spots to New York City’s cultural nonprofits who have been hard hit by the pandemic and face depleted marketing budgets. The initiative’s partners include Carnegie Hall, New York Philharmonic, The Apollo Theater, 92nd Street Y, Harlem Chamber Players, Playwright’s Horizons, Primary Stages, Bronx Arts Ensemble, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Flushing Town Hall, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, among others. According to a press release issued by the station, applications remain open, especially for BIPOC-led and/or organizations with small to mid-size budgets.

New York in Concert, started at the onset of the pandemic, will continue to bring audiences performances captured live from New York City and regional performing arts venues. WQXR set the second season to begin in April with performances by partner organizations, some of which are part of Project Airlift. Additional arts organizations include Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Gateways Music Festival, The Morgan Library and Museum, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

The fourth STAR initiative, Programming Partnerships with New York Organizations, will present a collaboration between WNYC’s New Sounds and Bang on A Can, spotlighting a series of commissioned works on February 21. The program will be hosted by New Sounds’ John Schafer and co-hosted by the three founders of Bang on a Can: Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Michael Gordon.

The Programming Partnership initiative will also include the third season of The Metropolitan Opera’s podcast, “Aria Code,” hosted by Grammy® Award winner and MacArthur Fellow, Rhiannon Giddens. The series comprises 18 episodes that examine outstanding moments in opera. Arias from beloved works, such as Puccini’s “Turandot,” Verdi’s “Aida.” and Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” are just a few scheduled for discussion. As in past seasons, each “Aria Code” episode will feature an internationally renowned opera singer, a music and drama expert, and guests from beyond the world of opera. The new season begins March 10.

NYPR (New York Public Radio) and The Public Theater will present a bilingual adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” – “Romeo y Julieta” – to international audiences as a podcast on March 18, 2021, and in April, WQXR will kick off their annual broadcast series “Carnegie Hall Live” for its 10th anniversary season. Episodes will look back at highlights from the past decade, and present new content from the upcoming “Voices of Hope” festival.

In the press release, Goli Sheikholeslami, President and CEO of New York Public Radio, which includes WQXR, stated, “Like the rest of our city, New York Public Radio has faced challenges due to the prolonged shutdown of our city and its economy. But we are grateful to be able to respond to this moment by using our airwaves to support the organizations who have supported us. WQXR STAR beautifully aligns with our mission to bring artists, audiences, and cultural organizations together, to keep our cultural community strong.”