The Open Ears Project 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.
The Open Ears Project

The Open Ears Project

From WNYC Radio

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.

Most Recent Episodes

Deborah Frances-White on Chance Encounters and Mozart

Deborah Frances-White is a comedian, writer, and host of "The Guilty Feminist" podcast, where she explores the balancing act between feminist idealism and human imperfection. In this episode, White reflects on her upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness and shares a story about the first time she saw a performance of Mozart's opera "Così fan tutte." On the train home from the performance, she shared a serendipitous encounter with a stranger that could have been lifted from an opera plot. To this day, when White listens to "Soave si il vento" — a trio from the opera meaning "may the wind be gentle" — it evokes for her "the longing and the loss for all the loves that might have been." This performance of "Soave sia il vento" comes from the 1997 EMI recording of "Così fan tutte" by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Riccardo Muti.

Tom Hiddleston on Arvo Pärt and the Infinite

Tom Hiddleston is an actor beloved around the world for his roles in film, television, and the stage, most notably for his portrayal of the Norse god Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before all that, he was a student at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, balancing both high hopes and uncertainty for his future. For the debut episode of the long-awaited second season of "The Open Ears Project," Hiddleston recalls a powerful memory from those days. While driving to a hiking spot, Arvo Pärt's "Spiegel im Spiegel" played on the radio, synchronizing with the landscape to evoke a sense of the eternal and the power of art to remind us of our humanity. The performance of "Spiegel im Spiegel" featured in this episode is by violinist Nicola Benedetti and pianist Alexi Grynyuk, from Benedetti's 2009 album, "Fantasie."

The Open Ears Project Returns!

The Open Ears Project returns for a new season on February 12! From tales of memorable moments in nature and fleeting encounters with strangers – to recollections of music that helped in difficult times – The Open Ears Project features people sharing a personal story about the classical track that means the most to them, and why. This season's guests include a wide range of voices – many in creative fields – including actors, authors, and journalists, as well classical and genre-busting musicians and conductors about the music that inspires their journey. Part mixtape, part sonic love letter, each episode creates a moment to reflect on the question, what if we made a habit of opening our ears — to classical music and to each other? Whether listeners are seeking an introduction to new pieces or encounters with powerful storytelling, listeners will enjoy brief but enduring meditations with artistic works and soulful stories spanning the range of the human experience. The Open Ears Project was created by Clemency Burton-Hill. This season will be hosted by Terrance McKnight. New episodes drop every Monday so listeners can start their week on the right note.

BONUS: Tom Hiddleston on The Nutcracker

Actor Tom Hiddleston reminisces about his childhood love of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker and reveals that he still turns to the Russian Dance whenever he needs a shot of vitality in his day.

30. Esther Perel on 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 survivor of the Holocaust, and how this piece transports her to something akin to a religious experience. Keep listening after the episode to hear the full track.

29. Krystal Hawes on Imperfection

Project Coordinator Krystal Hawes explores the perfect imperfection of Maurice Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte. Keep listening after the episode to hear the full track.

28. Dessa on Patience

Rapper Dessa discusses how the craft, structure and emotion of Bach's Chaconne in D minor resonates through her life and work, revealing dynamic connections between classical and rap music.

27. Jesse Eisenberg on History

Actor Jesse Eisenberg talks about how a trip to Poland led him to discover not only more about his family history and the holocaust, but the music of Frédéric Chopin, in particular the Etude Opus 10, No. 1. Keep listening after the episode to hear the full track.

26. Christopher Wheeldon on A Journey

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon gives moving insight into his long and inspiring journey with the music of Prokofiev's Second Violin Concerto. Keep listening after the episode to hear the full track.

25. On What Changed My Life

TV producer Megan Reid talks about Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel helped spark a lifelong obsession with ballet. Keep listening after the episode to hear the full track.