Fanfare Contributor Bio
Ronald E. Grames
I grew up in a home where serious concert music was daily fare. I loved it. I hardly knew there was such a thing as popular music. I pursued a degree in nuclear engineering. I ended up with a degree in theater. Long story. In truth, I spent more time in the music side of the Fine Arts Building than I did in the theater side. I got some practical experience singing-something I still do-and playing bassoon. For my major, among other things, I developed an independent study course on baroque opera performance style and drew up plans for a (not completely impractical) production of Götterdämmerung for an 800-seat theater. I finished up on the music side for my senior recital, directing and narrating (with my future wife) a full production of L'histoire du soldat with the music faculty wind ensemble and dancers.
All that was many years ago. Reality set in soon after and I earned a master's degree in instructional design and, when the PC made an appearance, started playing with computers. I now supervise IT operations and computer training in a St. Louis-area public safety training center and design and maintain a few web sites. I teach Constitutional Law at that center and serve as subject matter expert in that course of study for the state certifying agency. I also write for Fanfare. Since I have no formal education in any of this, I have been lucky enough to run into people who are sufficiently impressed by enthusiasm to give me a chance. Others can better judge if that was wise in this particular venture.
I have been a passionate collector of recorded music for over 40 years. I have a CD collection that I am told, by a mutual acquaintance, rivals that of Henry Fogel. I have not had the pleasure of checking that out with Mr. Fogel. Judging from his online catalog, I'm close, but nowhere near so organized. My collection, and all the reading that led to and resulted from its acquisition, is a major source of my knowledge of the subject. My tastes are eclectic and cover all periods and nationalities, but preferences run to British, American, and French music from the late 19th century through the present, and chamber music for wind instruments. I follow new music with great interest and one of my greatest thrills has been serving as a member of the lay panel for the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.
Since I make my living outside of music, I will always have to approach reviewing from the perspective of an informed amateur. I am inclined to think that can be a good thing. Whatever its ultimate value, my writing is an attempt to pay back some of what I owe to all the great writers who have taught me so much over the years. We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Really important information: I have been married to my wonderful, long-suffering wife for over 35 years and we have three children at or approaching adulthood who still occasionally go to the symphony and opera with me. I listen to music on high-end Sony ES components including a SACD player (not a DVD player that plays SACDs) and B&W speakers.