Local Prof Hopes Classical Music Podcast Connects Generations

When Western Washington University clarinet professor Erika Block first chatted with Joseph Robinson, retired principal oboe of the New York Philharmonic, a thought popped into her head: “Somebody has got to record this!”

Robinson, a part-time Blaine resident, met Block at the Bellingham Festival of Music, where he and Block met at a festival dinner. From the moment he sat down, epic stories about his life as musician spilled out, Block says. Robinson would soon become one of the first guests on Block’s classical music podcast, “Inside the Notes.”

“I’ve always been really fascinated by the storytelling aspect of classical music because nothing is ever documented. And it’s not part of pop culture anymore, so no one really knows what is happening,” says Block.

She created the podcast “Inside the Notes” to share the stories of musicians that might otherwise be lost in a generational shuffle. Block has interviewed international musical talents like pianist Philip Edward Fisher and cellist Clive Greensmith. The experience is like listening to living history, she says.

Originally from Maryland, Block grew up learning under the direction of musicians that would often stop a lesson to recount stories from their past.

“Everyone thinks Mozart [lived] a million years ago, and so did Stravinsky, but we know people right now on this earth who were col-leagues and friends of [Stravinsky]. It’s only one degree away, even though it feels like it’s not applicable anymore,” says Block, who records, produces and edits the podcasts herself, as well as keeping the website (insidethenotes.com) updated.

The first season of the podcast has listeners from all over, from Europe to Asia, but Block’s primary hope is that it reaches the ears of young, 20-some-thing musicians who have less of a historical connection to classical music.

“I just want to make sure that our thread connects from [older] generations to the one in front of me and make sure that it’s intact.”

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"'I’ve always been really fascinated by the storytelling aspect of classical music because nothing is ever documented.'"