Classical 91.5

Live from Hochstein Fall 2020

The Live from Hochstein fall concert series airs exclusively on WXXI Classical 91.5/90.3 FM and streaming at wxxiclassical.org (no live audience in the hall*) beginning on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 , from 12:10–12:50 pm with a concert featuring cellist and Hochstein instructor Natalie Spehar performing music by Bach and William Grant Still. Other performances on the five-concert series feature Hochstein students, faculty members, and RPO musicians.

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Since the pandemic shuttered all live music performances, musicians have been struggling to figure out how to bring music back to the people, and how to keep up the learning and performing.  The creativity has been outstanding as so many have learned to use technology both to learn and share their art.

Life as a Black Classical Pianist

Aug 12, 2020
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Editor’s note:  Canadian pianist Luke Welch says he feels like a unicorn in the world of classical music.  Luke was born and grew up in Mississauga, Ontario. He played his first public performance at age seven.  He’s passionate, talented, and sometimes bewildered by how he’s been treated.  I hope his account of his experiences will move you as much as it moves me.  ~ Brenda Tremblay

News from the world of Classical Music

In Lara Downes' New Series, Black Musicians Rise To A Pivotal Moment

Oct 26, 2020

How can a moment of protest and isolation inspire creative rebirth? That's the question renowned pianist Lara Downes is exploring as the host of a new video series for NPR Music, simply titled Amplify With Lara Downes.

Even this spring, when New York City was at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S, the city's public parks never closed. Instead, they became a place where people went for a socially distanced refuge, often escaping into music with their headphones. Ellen Reid has taken that experience one step further: The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer has written new music for a GPS-enabled app called Soundwalk, specifically designed to accompany walks around Central Park.

In the 1920s, a renaissance happened in Harlem. Black artists migrated north, rejecting centuries of a tragic status quo. They inspired each other to make art that expressed an audacious new vision of Black beauty, Black hope, Black truth and Black pride. A century later, Black artists are coming together again, somehow, though not physically this time.

Welcome to Amplify With Lara Downes, where you can eavesdrop on my intimate conversations with visionary Black musicians who share what they're making in this time of transformation — of reckoning, reimagining and maybe rebirth.

The 2000 film Requiem for a Dream celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall, and in that time there's at least one part of its legacy that's never faded: the music. The movie's haunted original score spawned a kind of breakout hit that would ripple through media for years to come, while also kickstarting a new career for its British-born composer, Clint Mansell.

Curt Long, President and CEO of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, says orchestras across the country are looking for answers on how to perform music in a pandemic, and in each city, the challenges are somewhat different. In New York City, the New York Philharmonic is canceling its entire season for the first time in its 178-year history.

One way the RPO is keeping the music playing is with live-streamed concerts. Those kicked off in September, and Long says those performances a work in progress.

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On Record Interviews

This is a week of two large and beloved Russian works: Tchaikovsky's daunting Violin Concerto and Rachmaninov's lush Symphony No. 2. Marcelo Lehninger returns as guest conductor for your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and violinist Blake Pouliot is making his RPO debut.  Both stopped by to chat with Julia Figueras about getting through the pitfalls of the concerto, avoiding potential excesses in the symphony and, in the mix, some fashion tips.

Your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director Ward Stare cap off the celebration of suffrage and Susan B. Anthony with "The Mother of Us All," Virgil Thomson's opera with a libretto by Gertrude Stein. The production, directed by Susan Stone Li, features singers from the Eastman School of Music. Ward and Susan stopped by to talk with Julia Figueras about putting the concert together, and about the path constructed by Thomson and Stein.

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Across the Universe/Jeff Spevak

It was 1966, and Armand Schaubroeck was ready for his close-up.

“He had us sit on that couch that’s on The Velvet Underground album,” Schaubroeck says. “I don’t know if he was trying to make the couch famous, but that’s where he shot most of his photos and his screen tests.”

A murmur of excitement rolled through the area’s movie-going community, long in coronavirus limbo, when word came out early Saturday afternoon that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had just announced that theaters throughout the state – umm, except you, New York City -- could reopen as of this Friday.

The news seemed to catch everyone by surprise. Then reality hit: Restarting an industry is not as simple as firing up the popcorn machine and hitting the projector “on” switch.

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