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‘Harmonia’ celebrates 30 years on WFIU

On Oct. 10, 1991, WFIU launched “Harmonia,” a radio show that explored the richness of early music history and culture through performances and interviews with musicians and scholars. Thirty years later, the program has expanded to include a podcast, “Harmonia Uncut,” and is nationally syndicated on more than 150 stations across the country.

Harmonia host Angela Mariani in 1991. Harmonia host Angela Mariani in 1991.

The show is written and hosted by Angela Mariani, who has been with “Harmonia” since its inception. She was approached about developing the show while she was a graduate student at Indiana University’s Early Music Institute (now Historical Performance Institute) and working part time as a board announcer at WFIU.

“In 1991, WFIU’s program director Christina Kuzmych asked me if I was interested in developing a weekly, one-hour program about early music, with the potential of eventually seeking syndication,” Mariani said. “I was very excited to do it but worried about the fact that I had just embarked on a doctoral degree, and producing and hosting a radio program sounded like a full-time job.

“I brought my dilemma to my teacher and mentor, the groundbreaking medieval music performer, scholar and founder of the Early Music Institute, Thomas Binkley. He told me, ‘You should definitely do it. You never know where it might lead.’ How right he was.”

National syndication for the show began in 1995, with more than 80 stations signing on during the first week the program was initially offered. By 2000, “Harmonia” could be heard on more than 150 public radio stations across the country.

“I get a great deal of joy from being able to introduce radio listeners to music that has a link to the ancient past but is new and fresh,” Mariani said. “We hope to continue bringing this music, performed in historically informed ways, to public radio for many years to come.”

“Harmonia” will celebrate 30 years on the air with a special anniversary episode at noon Sunday, Oct. 17, on WFIU2 and at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, on WFIU. This is the first of several “Harmonia” anniversary programs airing over the next year that will reflect on the past three decades and explore the ever-evolving field of early music and historical performance.