Ross Amico

Program Host

Ross Amico is program host, and host of Picture Perfect which airs Fridays at 6 pm and The Lost Chord which airs Sundays at 10 pm.

Ross has been involved in radio broadcasting since 1986.  He spent nearly ten years in community radio, after phoning in to a request show and being told he knew more about classical music than the program director.  During that time, his shows originated from WMUH Allentown (the radio station of Muhlenberg College) and nearby WXLV Schnecksville (at Lehigh-Carbon Community College).  He made his WWFM debut in September of 1995, while in the process of opening an antiquarian book business, Famulus Books, in Philadelphia.  His broadcasts have also been heard on WRTI Philadelphia and WPRB Princeton.

What he finds most enjoyable about his work in radio is putting together interesting programs and sharing music perhaps unfamiliar to his audiences.  It is his philosophy that a skillful juxtaposition of the familiar and the new can set off both to advantage.  His pre-produced shows, Picture Perfect and The Lost Chord, allow him to explore the world of film music and seldom-heard composers and recordings.  His music articles, which appear every Friday in the Times of Trenton, celebrate the local and regional arts scene.

Interview subjects have included Leon Bates, Stephanie Blythe, Cameron Carpenter, Barry Douglas, JoAnn Falletta, Leon Fleisher, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Lyndon-Gee, Kirill Gerstein, Philippe Graffin, Marc-André Hamelin, Sharon Isbin, Leila Josefowicz, Awadagin Pratt, Lara St. John, Peter Schickele, Orli Shaham, Caroline Shaw, Chris Thile, Dawn Upshaw, Pinchas Zukerman, and Christopher Walken.

Always passionate about classical music, Ross began record collecting at the age of 10.  He has also had a lifelong interest in classic film.  He credits his fascination with film with having led him to the symphony orchestra.  Follow his activities and enthusiasms on his Facebook page, Classic Ross Amico.

Ways to Connect

It may seem like odd timing to drop a program about war right into the middle of the holidays, but I can’t change the timing of Pearl Harbor.  Revisit some of John Williams’ music for films set during the World War II.  Two of them take place in the Pacific theater (“Midway,” “None But the Brave”).  One of them is a comedy, believe it or not (“1941”), set in Los Angeles.  We’ll also hear a solemn hymn to those who sacrificed everything for a greater good (“Saving Private Ryan”), this Friday at 6 pm.

Celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, with music on Jewish themes and by Jewish composers, including “Aspects of a Great Miracle” by Michael Isaacson, “Three Hassidic Dances” by Leon Stein,” and “The Klezmer Concerto” by Ofer Ben-Amots.  Enjoy your fill of light and latkes, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Do the holidays already have you feeling a little disoriented?  This week, on “Picture Perfect,” we’re literally seeing double.  Tune in for music from “Vertigo” (Bernard Herrmann), “La double vie de Véronique” (Zbigniew Preisner), “Dead Ringer” (André Previn), and “The Prince and the Pauper” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold).  Double your pleasure with movies about mirror images, this Friday at 6 pm.

Inspired by Brueghel’s painting “The Land of Cockaigne,” Knudage Rissager’s ballet, “Slaraffenland,” imagines a Promised Land “where roasted pigeons fly around in the air with knives and forks in their backs, and the streets are paved with marzipan and chocolate.”  A silly boy wanders into the country of King Sauce and becomes ill from overindulgence.  Along the way, he encounters Robin Hood, the Three Musketeers, Captain Fear, Fountains of Liqueur, Cigarettes, and the Candy Princess.  Conclude the long, gluttonous holiday weekend with a dose of musical tryptophan, this Sunday at 10 pm.

At the very dawn of color television, the National Geographic Society began its successful run of eagerly anticipated specials.  These specials really were special, with breathtaking images and real-life adventures unlike anything previously experienced in American living rooms.  Episodes were scored by some of top film composers of the day, including Elmer Bernstein (“Yankee Sails Across Europe”), Ernest Gold (“The Last Vikings”), Leonard Rosenman (“Dr. Leakey and the Dawn of Man”), and Jerome Moross (“Grizzly!”).  Travel the world with National Geographic, this Friday at 6 pm. 

For the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that formally ended World War I, it’s the second of a special two-part program showcasing “A World Requiem” by John Foulds.  Foulds’ work was given its premiere on Armistice Day, 1923, played four more times, then lay dormant for some 80 years until revived on Armistice Day, 2007, for this recording.  Also featured will be music by Cecil Coles, who died near the Somme in a heroic attempt to rescue his comrades.  War’s the pity, this Sunday at 10 pm.

There’s more to Thanksgiving than turkey and football.  We’ll hear music from movies reflective of what’s best in human nature and most admirable in the American character, including selections from “The Cummington Story” (Aaron Copland), “Field of Dreams” (James Horner), “The Best Years of Our Lives” (Hugo Friedhofer), and “Lincoln” (John Williams); then count our blessings and aspire to do better, this Friday at 6 pm.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that formally ended World War I, it’s the first of a special two-part program showcasing “A World Requiem” by John Foulds.  Foulds’ work was given its premiere on Armistice Day, 1923, played four more times, then lay dormant for some 80 years until revived on Armistice Day, 2007, for this recording.  Also featured will be a contemporaneous tone poem by Lilian Elkington, literally rescued from a trash heap following the composer’s death.  War’s the pity, this Sunday at 10 pm.

It’s autumn in the North countries, as well as in the Nordic soul.  Test your limits. not only for lengthening shadows, but also on gratuitous vowels, with music by Danish composer Rued Langgaard – his Symphony No. 4, “Fall of the Leaf” – and Finnish master Einojuhani Rautavaara – “Autumn Gardens,” the composer’s meditation on beauty in nature and the transience of life.  The shadows lengthen and the days grow short, even as the names grow long, this Sunday at 10 pm.

With a time change imminent (tomorrow night, we “fall back”), shun the darkness with music from movies inspired by Jules Verne’s novels of science, progress, and adventure.  Enjoy selections from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (Paul J. Smith), “In Search of the Castaways” (William Alwyn), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (Bernard Herrmann), and “Around the World in 80 Days” (Victor Young).  Verne takes us to some very strange places, yet manages to overcome all obstacles.  Still, it’s always a good idea to bring a harpoon, just in case, this Friday at 6 pm.

With Halloween looming, wander the creepy cornfields to music by George Crumb (“A Haunted Landscape), Morton Gould (“Jekyll and Hyde Variations”), and Dominick Argento (“Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe”).  Walk softly around these spine-tingling exercises in American Gothic, this Sunday at 10 pm.

October 30th marks the 80th anniversary of the notorious “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast that brought the Martians to Grover’s Mill, outside Princeton, NJ, and set off a national panic.  2018 also happens to be the 120th anniversary of the publication of H.G. Wells’ novel.  We’ll wrap up our “Hear the Difference” fundraiser with a special live double-celebration, featuring music from films inspired by Wells’ classic and other cinematic Mars-Earth exchanges.  Watch out for that heat ray, this Friday at 6 pm!

(Note: This program aired live and was not recorded as webcast.)

Sometimes even Romantic geniuses can use a little help.  On the eve of the anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt (born October 22, 1811), enjoy the rarely-heard “Concerto in the Hungarian Style” (orchestrated by Tchaikovsky), “The Black Gondola” (orchestrated by John Adams), and “Hexameron,” a titanic set of piano variations – with introduction, interludes and finale by Liszt – featuring contributions from five other virtuoso superstars of the 1830s, including Carl Czerny, Sigismond Thalberg, and Frederic Chopin.  Liszt gets by with a little help from his friends, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Long week?  Feel like you’re coming apart at the seams?  Kick off your elevator shoes and relax with an hour of music from Frankenstein films!  To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel, enjoy selections from “The Bride of Frankenstein” (Franz Waxman), “Frankenstein Created Woman” (James Bernard), “House of Frankenstein” (Hans J. Salter & Paul Dessau), “Young Frankenstein” (John Morris), and “Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’” (Patrick Doyle).  Jump-start your weekend with revivifying music straight to the neck-bolts, this Friday at 6 pm.

Viva VERDI – viva Vittorio Emanuele Re D’Italia (long live Victor Emanuel King of Italy) – a patriotic slogan used to promote national unification, at a time when the Italian peninsula was divided into separate states.  This program’s focus will be on musical unification, collaborative efforts featuring prominent Italian composers – including Antonio Vivaldi (in the serenata “Andromeda Liberata”) and Verdi himself (one of 13 composers to participate in the “Messa per Rossini”).  Give your undivided attention.  It’s Italian unification in music, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Perhaps in an attempt to subvert our fears, or to generate laughter from tension, filmmakers have frequently juxtaposed humor with the supernatural – or at any rate death.  Get into the Halloween spirit with music from four macabre comedies, including “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Max Steiner), “The Trouble with Harry” (Bernard Herrmann), “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (Vic Mizzy), and “Beetlejuice” (Danny Elfman).  It will be a mishmash of horror and humor, this Friday at 6 pm.

The game is afoot!  Tune in for an hour of music from movies inspired by the world’s greatest detective, including “Sherlock Holmes” (Hans Zimmer), “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” (Miklós Rózsa), “Young Sherlock Holmes” (Bruce Broughton), and “Without a Clue” (Henry Mancini).  Enjoyment is elementary, my dear Watson, this Friday at 6 pm.

Celebrate the arrival of autumn with Henry Hadley’s Symphony No. 2, “The Four Seasons,” and Leo Sowerby’s work for solo organ, “Comes Autumn Time.”  Hadley was music director of the Seattle Symphony, the first conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and instrumental in the establishment of the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood.  Sowerby was a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1946 for his cantata “Canticle of the Sun.”  Enjoy seasonal evocations by American composers of experience, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ashes are interred in Westminster Abbey, an honor reserved for England’s greatest luminaries; yet the composer is still sorely underestimated, especially by those outside the British Isles.  We’ll celebrate his legacy, on the 60th anniversary of his death, by way of three rare recordings of RVW conducting his own works – the overture to “The Wasps” (recorded in 1925), the Symphony No. 4 (1937), and the “Serenade to Music” (1951).  Connect with Vaughan Williams on the podium, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Although Leonard Bernstein’s concert suite for “On the Waterfront” is fairly well known, the original cues as they appeared in the film were long believed to be lost.  But the audio was preserved on acetate discs used for playback during the film’s recording sessions.  We’ll hear some of it, alongside Aaron Copland’s original recordings for “The Red Pony,” dances from Virgil Thomson’s “Louisiana Story” – so far, the only film score to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music – and Elie Siegmeister’s “They Came to Cordura,” which provides the now-familiar signature tune for “Picture Perfect.”

The Arabian Nights, traditional folk stories from the Orient, have come to us filtered through the sensibilities of Western translators.  Further translation was required to get the stories from page to screen, so it’s hardly surprising to find Sinbad, for instance, fighting a giant walrus.  Tune in for an hour of movie enchantments, with music from “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” (Bernard Herrmann), “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” (Roy Budd), “Aladdin” (Alan Menken), and “The Thief of Bagdad” (Miklós Rózsa).  Discover an Aladdin’s Cave of cinematic delights, this Friday at 6 pm.

“Children of the night – what beautiful music they make!”  So says Hungarian superstar Bela Lugosi in his signature role of Dracula.  Tune in for an hour of nocturnal meditations by some of Lugosi’s musical compatriots, including the “Hungarian Nocturne” by Miklós Rózsa, “Night Music” by Antal Doráti, and “Summer Evening” by Zoltán Kodály.  Hungarian composers take wing, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, it’s music from “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef” (Bernard Herrmann), “Creature from the Black Lagoon” (Henry Mancini), “Jaws” (John Williams), and “The Swimmer” (Marvin Hamlisch).  Expectations of aquatic refreshment are all wet, this Friday at 6 pm.

Even by composer standards, Rued Langgaard was a little bit of a strange bird.  Despite a promising start – including a symphony performed by the Berlin Philharmonic – his personal and creative eccentricities worked against him.  He would die in Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark, very far from the musical capital of Copenhagen, in 1952.  His reputation would not begin to gain traction for another 16 years. In all, Langgaard composed over 400 works.  Hear two of them, including the ambitious “Music of the Spheres,” this Sunday at 10 pm. 

Picaresque novels are generally characterized by having rogues or anti-heroes as protagonists, episodic, wayward structures, and, not infrequently, low humor.  Prepare to revel in some freewheeling lack of judgment, with music from “The Reivers” (John Williams), “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (Jerome Moross), “Anthony Adverse” (Erich Wolfgang Korngold), and “Tom Jones” (John Addison).  We’re up to no good, this Friday at 6 pm.

According to a certain school of thought, folk music – music of the land – embodies the spirit of a nation.  And no nation’s composers milked that cow quite as soulfully as the English.  Tune in for an hour of bucolic reflections on a time lost to technology and industrialization, this Sunday at 10 pm. 

What’s your hurry?  Defy weekend traffic with music from “The Road Warrior” (Brian May), “Grand Prix” (Maurice Jarre), “Bullitt” (Lalo Schifrin), and “Back to the Future.”  We put the pedal to the metal, this Friday at 6 pm. 

Prepare to get “lost.”  It’s an hour of music from fantasy films set in lost worlds, including “King Kong” (Max Steiner), “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (Bernard Herrmann), “One Million Years B.C.” (Mario Nascimbene), and “Jurassic Park” (John Williams).  The music will be larger than life, this Friday at 6 pm. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a radio host in possession of a weekly film music show must be in want of a good theme.  Tune in for selections from “Emma” (Rachel Portman), “Sense and Sensibility” (Patrick Doyle), and two versions of “Pride and Prejudice” (Carl Davis and Dario Marianelli).  A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of – at least according to “Mansfield Park.”  The next best is a playlist assembled from Jane Austen movies.  Know your own happiness, this Friday at 6 pm. 

With a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe, the Swiss-born composer Ernest Bloch decided to make the United States his permanent home.  He came to love and revere his adopted country as only an outsider could.  The epic rhapsody, “America,” was written, according to the composer, “in love for this country, in reverence to its past, in faith in its future.”  He dedicated the work to Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman.  Hear Bloch himself, full of patriotic fervor, introduce this homage to his adopted land.  Leopold Stokowski conducts the Symphony of the Air, this Sunday at 10 pm. 

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