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

Before André Previn became an acclaimed conductor of symphonies, he stood before some of the greatest sight-readers in the world, who made up the Hollywood studios’ crackerjack orchestras.  From “Lassie” to “My Fair Lady” to “Rollerball,” Previn worked on over 50 films.  He was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 4.  We’ll explore a neglected aspect of this supremely talented musical polymath, with selections from “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” “Irma la Douce,” “Dead Ringer,” and “Elmer Gantry,” this Friday at 6 pm.

The Twin Cities’ Dominick Argento died on February 20 at the age of 91.  Acclaimed especially for his vocal music, he left behind a substantial body of operas, song cycles, and choral works, including “From the Diary of Virginia Woolf,” which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1975.  Celebrate his legacy with “Six Elizabethan Songs” for soprano and Baroque ensemble, “A Ring of Time,” composed for the 70th anniversary of the Minnesota Orchestra, and the “Valentino Dances” from his opera “The Dream of Valentino.”   It’s a musical monument to a Midwestern master, this Sunday at 10 pm.

CBS Records’ landmark Black Composers Series has finally come to compact disc.  Made under the direction of conductor Paul Freeman and employing world class orchestras and soloists, these recordings originally appeared on vinyl between 1974 and 1978.  Sony Classical has reissued these invaluable documents as a boxed set.  To coincide with Black History Month, we’re listening to highlights from the 10-CD collection, Sundays in February at 10 pm.  This week, we conclude our survey with music by William Grant Still (pictured), Ulysses Kay, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Experience the Power of Alfred Newman – TYRONE Power, that is.  It’s music from Power swashbucklers made at 20th Century Fox, where Newman served as music director for 20 years.  Romance and swagger characterize these selections from “Captain from Castile,” “The Black Swan,” “The Mark of Zorro,” and “Prince of Foxes.”  Catch some Z’s with Zorro.  Alfred Newman makes his mark, this Friday at 6 pm.

The path to salvation is narrow and as difficult to walk as the razor’s edge.  Journey through breathtaking vistas in India and Tibet, even as we feel our way to the inner realms of spirit and psyche, with music from “Black Narcissus” (Brian Easdale), “Seven Years in Tibet” (John Williams), “The Razor’s Edge” (Alfred Newman), and “Lost Horizon” (Dimitri Tiomkin).  We can’t guarantee that you’ll find enlightenment, but there will be plenty to awe and inspire, this Friday at 6 pm.

In this season of long shadows, revisit the world of film noir, with music from “The Big Sleep” (Max Steiner), “Chinatown” (Jerry Goldsmith), “Miller’s Crossing” (Carter Burwell), and “Brute Force,” “The Killers,” and “The Naked City” (Miklos Rozsa).  Don your rumpled linen suit, draw the Venetian blinds, and play the sap for nobody, this Friday at 6 pm.

Think inside the box, with music from “The Snowman” (Howard Blake), “The Homecoming” (Jerry Goldsmith), “A Christmas Carol” (Bernard Herrmann), and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Vince Guaraldi).  For once, the snow on your television screen is wholly intentional, this Friday at 6 pm.

It’s a Christmas bouquet, of sorts, with Hugo Distler’s “Die Weihnachtsgeschichte” (“The Christmas Story”), an otherworldly, a cappella masterpiece punctuated by seven variations on the carol “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (“Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming”), and Emil Waldteufel’s waltz, “Roses de Noël.”  The holidays are in bloom, this Sunday at 10 pm.

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.

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