“It has doubled our audience for classical music,” said Woolfe. “It is gratifying that whatever we do, people are ready to explore and get involved.” But he added that he was pleased to hear that classic lovers also enjoyed the series.
David Allen, freelance critic for The Times and frequent writer of “5 Minutes,” said his selection appealed to both beginners and experts. “I have sometimes thought deeply about finding pieces that are off the beaten track,” he said, like a little heard piece from Bach’s organ music or a movement from a Mozart serenade.
Mr. Woolfe also attributed the appeal to the series’ vivid, eye-catching animations, like pulsating cello strings or a silhouette of Mozart trapped in a colorful confetti tower. “They improve the playfulness and accessibility of the series,” he said.
Angie Wang, the freelance illustrator who creates them, said she watched videos of the musicians and noted their characteristic movements, paying special attention to wrist and elbow articulation. “I wanted to render them with delicacy,” she said. “The animations are a kind of visualization for the music.”
One of Mr. Woolfe’s favorite aspects of working on the series has been getting to know artists outside of the performance context in which he normally encounters them (“Renée Fleming is a really good writer,” he said) and talking to big names outside of them the classical music world on a subject that they are seldom, if ever, asked to discuss.
“I can see how people think in addition to their performance,” he said. “It’s another facet of artist personalities.”
While the series wasn’t meant to be an antidote to the polarization that has gripped politics and public health over the past year, Mr. Woolfe is glad it worked that way. “I’m so glad there was counter-programming for people during the pandemic,” he said. “And I hope you will keep listening.”