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  • Writer's pictureDiana Scalia

Classical California and Ave Maria

Updated: May 14

September is Classical Music Month, and it makes my heart so happy to share this story!

For years I have had a passion for classical music. In my book The Bump Clause, I tell the story of the truest love of my life, and the closest I ever came to dying of a broken heart.

That was when I began listening to classical music. There were no lyrics to torture my wounded heart, and not surprisingly, it was wonderfully comforting. I don’t really even remember which pieces and composers I connected with at that hour. I just know that it was the beginning of a beautiful, healing relationship, and one that would last me a lifetime.

By now, classical music fills up my soul on a daily basis, and I could wax poetic for days about my favorite composers and pieces. Gratefully, Classical California KUSC - (LA-based) FM radio and worldwide streaming via website and app - has 24-7 programming plus additional playlists for streaming. It is my favorite source for both listening, and education. The broadcasters feel like cherished friends, and there is always something new to learn and delight in.

Since 2020, KUSC has generously offered the opportunity for listeners to design the (annual) Classical California Ultimate Playlist. We get to participate by recommending our favourite classical pieces, and sharing reasons why they are uniquely Californian.

My entry was submitted the other day. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make my recommendation ... until I heard angel whispers guiding it along.

Ave Maria – both the Bach and Schubert versions – is some of my favorite music in the world. Mother Mary is one of my dearest girls. She, and this music, have been among my greatest sources of comfort and grace, especially when my mama was passing. When Renata was tiny, I played Bach’s Ave Maria at bedtime, calling on Mary to hold us both in sweet sleep. It worked like a dream ;)

The following was what I offered to KUSC, both in writing and an audio message, hoping it will make it on the air when the new playlist debuts, beginning 11 September!

I am Diana Scalia, I live in Redondo Beach, and I was born and raised in LA. I choose Bach's Ave Maria for the Classical California Ultimate Playlist, and here’s why!

I wonder if you know, that our city was originally named for Mother Mary! It had a long title that included “Our Lady, Queen of the Angels”, and was later shortened to simply be “The City of Angels”. I feel that Ave Maria, this beautiful gift from Bach, honors both us native Angelenos, and all hearts who want to feel held and loved at all times.

When my mother was passing, this music comforted me on a cellular level, and when my goddaughter was just 2 and spent her first night in my home, this was the lullaby I chose for her to fall asleep by. The performance by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott is one of my very favourite renditions of this gorgeous music.

Thank you for this opportunity to share, and for creating a soundtrack so meaningful to California.

Violin&Sheet Music Photo by Stefany Andrade on Unsplash

Mary and angels foto, from the Louvre, in my own Paris 2022 foto album

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