After 14 Years, CPR Classical’s David Rutherford Says Goodbye

May 3, 2019
Photo: David Rutherford Colorado Highland Tours full photo

Fourteen years can sure go by in a flash. But when you take a few minutes to look back, you start to realize just how much has happened in those years. 

My career at Colorado Public Radio began doing overnights, 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., four nights a week. Coming into the job, I thought I knew a lot about classical music. But then I had to talk about seven hours’ worth of music every night and I realized just how deep the waters were!

Turns out I knew just slightly more than almost nothing. Fourteen years later, I still feel the same way. So I guess that never changed…

Back then, there was the morning show, which I hosted for several years. It was great fun, but since I am also a working musician, that burned my candle at both ends. At night I was up late for rehearsals and performances, then up early for a morning show. Fortunately, we all came to our senses, and Richard Ray (remember that amazing voice?) decided he could take the morning show and run with it. And boy did he!

I bounced around in the middle of the day for a while, until finally settling into the afternoon drive slot. I’ve been there for about six years. During that time, much has changed at CPR. Steve Blatt had already retired, Charley Samson took his leave, and then Richard Ray.

And we brought on some really wonderful new voices as hosts: Jean Inaba and David Ginder, and Matt Weesner has become a major voice on CPR Classical. Karla Walker is the mainstay - the voice of reason in the middle of the day, while Monika Vischer is still heard here and there. She’s now the program director, at the wheel of this ever-changing broadcast ship.

Sacred Classics on Sunday morning is the program I will most miss, as that program was and will always be the closest to my heart. I hope that throughout my years as host I’ve brought some beauty and lifted your spirit, while the music has fed your soul. 

Through it all I’ve had the chance to talk to some incredible artists, composers, conductors and more. My favorite was probably Marvin Hamlisch (not long before he passed away). Gil and Orli Shaham, Robert Spano, John Rutter, Morten Lauridsen, John Eliot Gardiner, Conrad Tao, the Harlem Quartet, Cantus and so many more were also incredible highlights for me.

Another highlight was being able to host so many live broadcasts of the Colorado Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Bravo! Vail's New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra concerts, as well as those from the Aspen Music Festival & School.

If you ever voted in the annual Carol Countdown, I was happy to count your vote and play all that wonderful music for you.

Do you realize just how incredible the musicians are who live, play and sing right here in Colorado? I do. And I’ve enjoyed every minute getting to know all of them and celebrating their amazing music-making. I encourage you always to support the live music that is happening here at home. Those musicians are worth every moment you listen and every penny you spend. 

Above all, though, are the many words of encouragement and thanks, and the stories of how music has touched lives from those of you who listen every day. For 14 years, I’ve been talking directly to you. I hope that in some small way, I’ve helped you hear the music with fresh ears, broadened your understanding of where it came from and how it got to you, and what it all means. And I hope you love it just a little more because of me. 

You may wonder what could lure me away from such an amazing gig. Nothing less than the Colorado mountains. I grew up in Grand Lake and my family has a long Colorado history. Any time friends, family or even guest artists I’m working with or who are in town to play with other groups have time, I take them up to the mountains to see what Colorado has to offer besides city life in Denver. It seemed a natural fit to start Colorado Highland Tours, and offer guided sight-seeing small group tours for two-, three- or five-day excursions through the Rockies. This way I still get to tell stories and share my passion for something I love, and it gives me time for more conducting and performing in the winter months.

I hope to see you sometime at a concert or elsewhere in the community. Thanks for listening. It has meant the world to me.