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'Morning' Becomes Tom Schnabel's Eclectic Tastes

December 30, 1986|IRIS SCHNEIDER

Records and album jackets cover the floor and shelves. Schnabel has been on the run throughout the three-hour show. "I don't get a chance to listen to the show--other people get a chance to do that."

"Tom is so focused on what he's doing," says Hirschman, "that he loses sight of what's going on around him--sort of like an absent-minded professor."

She recalls how, on the second day of live testimony from Washington's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings, Schnabel was concerned that Secretary of State George Shultz's testimony would jeopardize his show's 9 a.m. start. "He wanted to know whether we would preempt the secretary's testimony so he could play Steve Reich. I said it wasn't a matter of discussion," she says with a laugh.

"But I wouldn't want a music director to be anything otherwise. I can't tell you how rare it is to find someone with his mastery of different musical schools and the aesthetic integrity to mix them with the kind of expertise and professionalism that Tom brings to the show."

As hard as Schnabel's taste might be to classify, his appreciation for music--in all its myriad forms--is easy to read.

You hear it when he introduces a recording of bird songs: "We need more bird songs in this town."

You hear it when he talks about how he perceives the world: "I'm very sensitive to noise, especially unwanted noise. But some noises are so great, like the moment you realize it's raining outside and you hear that little hissing."

For Schnabel, music is a purifying experience.

"It is very powerful, very unusual. Music is an abstract, mystical substance. I really want to move people the same way I'm moved. It can make a difference in your life."

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