Classical 91.5

Fascinatin' Rhythm's Michael Lasser announces retirement, final show June 26th at 11am & 7pm

In May 2021 WXXI’s Michael Lasser, host of the Peabody Award winning show Fascinatin’ Rhythm , announced that he will be retiring and ending his program. The show began in 1980, and Michael spoke with WXXI’s Jeff Spevak about how it all began. The final broadcast of Fascinatin’ Rhythm will be on Saturday, June 26 at 11:00am and 7:00pm on WXXI Classical 91.5.

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Much has been reported recently about the limited representation and inequity in the world of classical music.  From musicians of color being represented in orchestras and the repertoire they perform, to women conductors on the podium, equity and inclusion is now becoming part of the discussion in the classical music industry.

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Tania León, the 78-year-old Cuban-born composer, won the Pulitzer Prize in Music on Friday for her orchestral work Stride. The Pulitzer jury described the 15-minute piece as a "musical journey full of surprise, with powerful brass and rhythmic motifs that incorporate Black music traditions from the U.S. and the Caribbean into a Western orchestral fabric." The two other finalists were Place, by Ted Hearne and Data Lords by Maria Schneider, both recordings.

We're joined by the great Michael Lasser, longtime host of Fascinatin’ Rhythm on WXXI Radio. Lasser has been at the helm of the nationally syndicated show for more than 40 years. His work as earned him a loyal audience and a coveted George Foster Peabody Award. As reported by WXXI's Jeff Spevak, "jurors said his program was a vivid example of what a listener described as 'radio essays with songs used as illustrations.'” Lasser has decided to retire, with June 26 being the final broadcast of his program.

This hour, we sit down with him and with the program's original producer, Marianne Carberry, to talk about the many years of the show, its music, the social history of that music, and more. Our guests:

  • Michael Lasser, host of Fascinatin’ Rhythm, author, teacher, and theater critic
  • Marianne Carberry, original producer of Fascinatin’ Rhythm, and program host for Classical 91.5. FM

I first read Tayari Jones' 2018 novel An American Marriage on a plane, cover to cover. It seemed like half the people on that plane were reading it too. So were President Obama, Oprah and anyone who follows The New York Times Best Sellers List. It's a beautifully written book, a portrait of a complicated couple and their navigation of an American tragedy.

Sitting at the Yamaha grand piano in his Brooklyn apartment, surrounded by two laptops, an iPad, a monitor, a video camera and studio lights, Dan Tepfer plays the first of Bach's "Goldberg" Variations. The piano is a Disklavier, which can record and play back. When he finishes, Tepfer taps a button on his iPad, triggering the piano to play back what he's just recorded with the notes inverted, as if the score were turned upside down.

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra reunited with its live audience on Thursday night at Perinton Center Stage Amphitheater after an absence of more than a year. The concert was the first in the group’s summer-long “RPO Outdoors” series, but it was also Andreas Delfs’s first in-person performance as the orchestra’s music director designate.

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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.

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Across the Universe/Jeff Spevak

Here’s the question for Missy Pfohl Smith: What prompted the creation of the ARTs + Change Conference?

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The prison in Central America was run down, the conditions horrible. Yet art was there. 

“Guys with tattoos on their faces, their eyelids, under their lips,” says Mandalit del Barco. “Places that hurt. They would try to put art on themselves, their whole bodies.” 

Some of these men had roamed the streets of Los Angeles, in gangs, until they’d been deported. And now, imprisoned. Perhaps that guy had been one of them, the one with the tattoo on his forehead.

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