Classical 91.5

Arts Features

Every day there are exciting things going on in Rochester's cultural arts community.  Classical 91.5 hosts collaborate with and create highlights of various arts organizations, musicians and artists in and around our community. 

As the recent mass shooting at a Florida high school re-energizes the national gun violence debate, a local composer has turned to music to reflect on a tragedy that shook America to its core just over five years ago.

Eastman School of Music instructor Steve Danyew once attended Sandy Hook Elementary in  Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a mass shooter on December 14, 2012.

Danyew's piece "Into the Silent Land" blends elements of a funeral march and a lament.  Near the end, a poem is read over the music by a narrator.

Teacher Mark Phinney taps into a child's world of play using the Orff Schulwerk Method at John James Audubon School 33 in Rochester, New York.    His students range from kindergarten age to sixth grade, and he says he loves working with them.

The Orff Schulwerk Method is vastly different from the way Mark learned to make music.

"We were basically in the 'sit and get.'  We sat and we were told, and that's what we did.   Here, you come in and you DO.  It's constant activity, music-making, and prepping to make the music. The kids take over!"

 

Audrey Whitmeyer-Weathers

What's left on a singer's bucket list after a stellar career at The Met?  How do songs tell one's real life story?  Two world-renowned singers, mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and current Professor of Voice, Anthony Dean Griffey performed a benefit concert Sunday, February 18th in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music.  They collaborated with pianist Russell Miller, Professor of Vocal Coaching and Repertoire.  In a wide ranging conversation with WXXI's Brenda Tremblay, von Stade and Griffey tell stories, talk about the athletic and spiritual challenges of singing, and the lasting

S. Richards

Last summer, when Musa Ngqungwana made his debut in the title role of the Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Glimmerglass Festival, he discovered that life had prepared him to play an outsider.  

The bass-baritone was raised by a single mother in what he calls a “ghetto” of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  He says that growing up in apartheid, a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa until 1991, almost guaranteed him a life of poverty and perhaps an early death.

But music saved him.

provided

A Rochester-based composer who teaches at Nazareth College is headed to the Winnipeg New Music Festival this week.  Octavio Vazquez will serve as a guest composer, attending rehearsals, panel discussions, and concerts along such classical music luminaries as Philip Glass. 

Getting to this high point in Vazquez’s career has not been an easy path.  He grew up in the 1970s in Galicia, northwestern Spain, at the end of the rule of the long-reigning dictator, Francisco Franco.

Photo Kevin Patterson

      

  The opera Mrs. President is being performed Saturday night in Rochester. It tells the story of the first woman to run for president, which happened earlier than you might think.

In 1872, women didn’t have the right to vote in America, but that didn’t stop one from running for president: Victoria Woodhull.

She was a complicated, fascinating figure from American history – but not as well know these days as  other women’s rights activists of the late 19th century.  Her run for president in 1872 was just the tip of the iceberg. She was a clairvoyant, newspaper publisher, jailbird, stockbroker and proponent of free love. Despite her courage and persistence, Woodhull was viciously attacked by the conservative society in which she lived, a movement which was spear-headed by the powerful and influential preacher Henry Ward Beecher. Woodhull spent Election Day in prison, jailed for revealing Beecher’s secret life, a sex scandal that ignited the public and the press.

Victoria Woodhull is the subject of an opera – Mrs. Presidentwritten by composer Victoria Bond and librettist Hilary Bell. 

Violinist Wendy Toh and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra give the world premiere performance of a violin concerto by Zoe Wang this Wednesday at 8pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  We were able to catch up over email about the music and their other projects as graduate students at the Eastman School of Music.  Enjoy!

via New York State Ballet

The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty...Dracula? There's someone you might not expect to find on stage in a classical ballet.

New York State Ballet is performing Dracula this weekend at RIT. Capturing the spirit of this classic horror tale in ballet took some creative thinking about the characters, as choreographer Rob Royce explained, along with sharing the story of his artistic journey and what has brought him to Rochester.  

  

The Fischoff Competition is the largest chamber music competition in the country   – more than 100 music groups of 3 to 6 players enter each year. This year, gold prize winners at this prestigious competition were from the Eastman School of Music – The Fuego Quartet.  

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