Not Another 'Carmen' Program, Please!

China's Qing Pang and Jian Tong. i i

Sweet spin, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, but forgive me if I hit "mute." Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
China's Qing Pang and Jian Tong.

Sweet spin, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, but forgive me if I hit "mute."

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

As I watched the pairs skate their short programs on Sunday night, I wondered the same thing I wonder about every single time I watch figure skating: Why is the music always so bad, and so predictable? Granted, the sound quality has improved since I first tuned in the in the 1980s, but the songs have stayed largely the same. Anne Midgette sought answers in her piece for the Washington Post, "The Music Of Olympic Figure Skating Isn't What It Could Be." Basically, it came down to this:

"The problem is that these people don't know any music," says music writer David Hurwitz, who established a small side business on his CD-reviewing Web site, Classics Today, to advise figure skaters on their musical choices. Skaters tend to cling to what has done well before: "Carmen," in various permutations, tops a list that includes a heavy dose of Russian ballet and dance music ("Swan Lake," "Scheherazade") and Spanish-themed works.

Or, as skating coach Audrey Weisiger puts it, "all the guys want to see the action hero, and all the girls skate to something Spanish."

Well, as a director for Talk of the Nation, it's (a beloved) part of my job to seek out instrumental works (vocals are taboo on the ice, too) to pad our programming with. So if there are any ice skaters out there who want to stray from the well-trod musical path, here are some musicians whose works might make for a more interesting skate, to my mind.

* While he does employ vocals in his compositions, Ari Picker, also known as Lost in the Trees, has long instrumental stretches and epic themes on "Time Taunts Me." I'd love to see a skating program featuring his music, particularly if he somehow adapted the first song, "Lost in the Snow" for some rad skater. He uses some traditional orchestra instruments (cello, violin, viola, trombone), so maybe it wouldn't be a huge gamble.

* If a skater wanted to go a bit riskier, he or she might find something interesting on Benevento/Russo Duo's "Play Pause Stop." Marco Benevento and Joe Russo's pieces are largely electronic, though they have been known to do some acoustic performances. Their songs change tempo and dynamics in a way that has me picturing big jumps and tight spins.

Hear my plea, figure skaters! Stop assaulting my ears with "Phantom of the Opera!" I know there are medals on the line, but it's time to innovate.

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