previously unpublished poem, “NornLonger Very Clear,” served up by somernof the “Big Names” in contemporaryrnclassical music: Philip Glass, JohnrnCorigliano, Joan Tower, Anthony Davis,rnMorton Gould, Milton Babbitt, and halfrna dozen others. The poem—introducedrnby Ashbery at the start of the concert—rnreads as follows;rnIt is true that I can no longerrnremember very wellrnthe time when we first began tornknow each other.rnHowever, I do remember very wellrnthe first time we met. You walkedrnin sunlight,rnholding a daisy. You said,rn”Children make unreliablernwitnesses.”rnNow, so long after that time,rnI keep the spirit of it throbbingrnstill.rnThe ideas are still the same, andrnthey expandrnto fill vast, antique cubes.rnMy daughter was reading one justrnthe other day.rnShe said, “How like pellucidrnstatues. Daddy. Or like a . . .rnan engine.”rnIn this house of blues the coldrncreeps stealthily upon us.rnI do not dare to do what I fantasizerndoing.rnWith time the blue congeals intornroomlike purplernthat takes the shape of alcoves,rnlandings.. .rnEverything is like something else.rnI should have waited before Irnlearned this.rnGiven the dubious status of WNYC,rnthe title was ironic enough; more sornwhen you consider the third stanza,rnwhere Ashbery, in characteristic fashion,rninterrupts what is otherwise a lovely poemrnwith an offhand and ambiguous conversationalrnaside, surely an example ofrnthe “opaque playfulness” that one NewrnYork Times reviewer has attributed tornAshbery’s work. But what was odder stillrnwas that the very same stanza aboutrn”pellucid statues”—^by far the least pellucidrnsection of the poem—was the onernfocused on by a surprising number of therncomposers on the program, an oddityrnthat is best explained in the words ofrnHenry Fielding: “They are the affectationrnof affectation.” I must, however,rngive credit where it is due, for not everyrncomposer exhibited such pretentiousness:rnRobin Holcomb admitted that shernhad to look “pellucid” up in the dictionary;rnand Anthony Davis had therncourage to tamper with the work of arnPulitzer Prize winner and omit the thirdrnstanza entirely because, as he explained,rn”It just didn’t speak to me.”rnIt did, however, speak to JohnrnCorigliano. Corigliano, whose vision wasrnexplained by the sadly humorless leaderrnof the all-female Bassoon quartet forrnwhich he composed the piece, was apparentlyrnvery taken with the contrastingrnimages of the hot, pulsating engine andrnthe fixed, frozen, stone statues. Indeed,rnit would not have hurt Corigliano to followrnMs. Holcomb’s lead. As far as hisrnpiece “How Like Pellucid Statues, Daddyrn(or like a … an engine)” is concerned,rnlet’s just say that it was not any worsernthan I would have expected from a piecernwritten expressly for four bassoons.rnPhilip Glass’ creation, “Now, So LongrnAfter That Time,” sounded no differentrnfrom any of his others: a painfullyrnmonotonous cascade of chords. Herncould have just as easily titled it “RecycledrnGlass,” and it would not have madernthe least bit of difference in my assessmentrnof the piece.rnThe award for the most original—rnand, for that matter, farfetched—interpretationrnof the evening, however, wasrnwon hands down by composer StevenrnMostcl and his group, the TibetanrnSinging Bowl Ensemble. (For those ofrnyou who are somehow unfamiliar withrnthese “instruments,” Tibetan singingrnbowls are metal bowls of different sizesrnwhich emit an increasingly loud hummingrnsound when repeatedly strokedrnwith a pestle-like object along their outerrnrim.) Mr. Mostel, who, as a rule, doesrnnot like setting words because he feelsrnthat they only detract from the music,rndecided to set only the vowels in thernpoem—after all, what could be uglierrnthan the sound of a consonant? Duringrnrehearsals, however, his singers keptrnreturning to the words. Instead of takingrnthis as a sign that maybe the words inrntheir entirety were the way to go, hernchose instead to set only the vowels ofrnwhat he thought were the two most importantrn”concept words” in the poem:rn”True” and “No.” Yes, this is true; andrnno, I cannot explain, except to say that itrnwas an interminable ten minutes. (Apparently,rnMr. Mostel isn’t much onrnbrevity, either.)rnAs for the others—”Or Like A . . . ,”rn”like a . . . an engine,” and a handfulrnimaginatively called “No Longer VeryrnClear”—admittedly, my recollection ofrnthem is no longer very clear. The onernthing I do remember, however, is thernpoem itself, which has been drilled intornmy memory from repeated hearings.rnLike it or not, it sits in my mind, perchedrnawkwardly beside the works of suchrnpoetic paragons as Shakespeare, Tennyson,rnLongfellow, and Donne, taking uprnprecious space in the corner of a not-yetantiquerncube.rnI should have waited before I learnedrnthis.rnStacey Kors is a freelance writer in NewrnYork. She is a contributing editor tornOpera Monthly and writes regularly forrnThe Opera Quarterly and Stagebill.rnRadio DaysrnbyMarkRachornIn England, it used to be possible torndrift into a doctorate-level educationrnsimply by listening to the radio. A childrncould begin with adventure serials andrncomedies, graduate to radio theater versionsrnof classic plays and novels or documentariesrnabout historical figures, andrnend up listening to an Oxford don talkingrnabout the Oxford Movement. Havingrnbeen exiled to New York for the pastrnseveral years, I do not know if this still applies,rnbut I do know that serious radiornprogramming in America hardly exists.rnWhereas in England, Radios Three andrnFour (the Third Program and Home Servicernof old) would broadcast lectures,rndocumentaries, and plays, their Americanrnequivalents on National PublicrnRadio seem able only to lecture.rnFor those who love radio, spinning therndial in search of intelligent life in thernAmerican ether can be a dishearteningrnexperience. New York has the world’srnlargest radio market and more stationsrnthan any other city—I have listened tornmost of them and can report mostly disappointment.rnIt is depressing to comparernmy childhood listening in Englandrnwith the intellectual fare served up tornAmerican youngsters on WNYC (Newrn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn