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Fanfare Contributor Bio

Gil French

I remember hating classical music as a kid but always loving an orchestra. As an 18- to 25-year-old, I was trapped in a seminary where the only thing we could listen to was classical music (no radio, no TV, nada). A love affair developed, leading to an M.A. in Music History. But far more valuable was a habit of listening comparatively to multiple recordings of the same works—the making of a critic. In 1990 I began reviewing classical CDs for a newspaper (about 250 a year), then for American Record Guide (ARG) since 1994, while I spent 15 years as a classical music host for public radio. (As a flutist of the Rochester Philharmonic once told me, “You’ve got the best job in town because you’re able to listen to far more music every day than we can.”) I then became concert editor for ARG in 2005, i.e., I managed the section of ARG that covered live concerts—keeping ahead of what concerts were happening around the country, making assignment to about 40 writers, editing their work, and writing my own. The concert section was terminated in 2020. For 15 years it was a glorious journey into others’ insights, personalities, and superb writing skills. And so a lifelong habit continues of searching for ways to stay musically creative, fresh, and out of ruts.


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