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Jesse McQuarters

Jesse McQuarters is a radio producer at 98.7WFMT in Chicago and the WFMT Radio Network, the station's international syndication arm.  He produces the Network's flagship program, Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin, and has also produced programming with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Lang Lang, Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Northwestern University, the Ravinia Festival, Gabriela Montero, James Conlon, and many others.  He is also the founding producer of Relevant Tones, one of the United States' only broadcast programs dedicated to new and contemporary classical music. Jesse's musicological research has taken him around the world, including visits to Israel, Russia, and in the fall of 2012, Sweden.


As a bassist, Jesse has had the opportunity to play extensively in and around Chicago, at venues such as Orchestra Hall, the Green Mill, the Athenaeum Theatre, the Chicago Cultural Center, and countless others. He is on the double bass faculty of the Colorado Suzuki Institute and has served on the faculty of the Music Institute of Chicago, and his articles have been published in the Journal of the International Society of Bassists.


«To get to know a country, you must have direct contact with the earth,» Albert Einstein once said. «It’s futile to gaze at the world through a car window.» I must extend my deepest and most profound thanks to the Likhachev Foundation for not only getting me «out of the car», so to speak, but for putting me in direct contact with some of the most fertile cultural soil on the planet. For this lover of classical music, the historical riches of St. Petersburg cannot be overstated – the halls of the Conservatory reverberate with the footsteps of Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, the Mariinsky gives rise to memories of Stravinsky and Balanchine, and one can almost make out Chaliapin, dressed in the golden robes of Boris Godunov, disappearing around the corner in his grand apartment.


It was apparent in just a few days in Petersburg that these illustrious traditions are honored and respected, of course, but that new torchbearers are also blazing an artistic trail into the twenty-first century.  Each year, new classes of exceptional Conservatory alumni serve as musical prophets, populating positions in prestigious orchestras around the world and taking top honors in competitions. The Philharmonic's orchestras pack concert halls in Petersburg and abroad. Valery Gergiev's White Nights Festival welcomes nearly a million concertgoers as the midnight sun illuminates the ploschads and prospekts of the city.


As I conducted interviews and research for my radio programs on the musical history of St. Petersburg, I was able to get an exceptionally personal sense of the past, present, and extramusical character of St. Petersburg.  Each day brought new highlights, but some of my favorite experiences were climbing the precipitous stairs of the Vladimirsky Cathedral to learn the craft of bell-ringing in the Russian Orthodox Church, interviewing veterans at the Piskariovskoye Cemetery on Victory Day who fought on the front lines of the second World War, and experiencing Stravinsky's The Firebird, in its original setting, at the Mariinsky Theatre, where the young composer was introduced to Tchaikovsky by his father, a famous bass singer there.  Speaking of bass singers, it was also incredible to interview the basso profundo Vladimir Miller, who possesses low notes that extend a full octave below the normal bass singing range.  His recitation of Pushkin's The Bronze Horseman will serve as the perfect aural introduction to the city for my radio series.  All of this, in addition to wonderfully erudite and insightful commentary from professors at the Conservatory, will make for not only a singular radio series, but a base of first-hand knowledge that will take a lifetime to both assimilate and disseminate in my work as a radio producer.