Classical 91.5
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Celebrate July 4th in films about the Making of America, The Score, July 2020

Host Edmund Stone helps us celebrate Independence Day with music from movies about the making of America, including the 1986 television movie George Washington: The Forging of a Nation (7/4).

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Recent blog posts

Aaron Winters

The Public Media Journalists Association (PMJA) has announced awards for outstanding journalism, and two WXXI staffers have earned accolades for their work.

Mona Seghatoleslami won 2nd place in the ‘Best use of Sound’ category for a feature she did called “New Sounds from Ossia” about student-run ensemble at the Eastman School of Music.

Listen to Mona’s feature.  

An energetic quiet descends on the auditorium as the light dims. You welcome the concertmaster with polite applause, and he leads the orchestra in one final tuning. The conductor strides confidently onstage, swinging her arm with panache to gesture for the orchestra to rise as she takes the bow on their behalf. As she takes her place at the podium, the audience on the edge of their seats, a few coughs break the silence. Suddenly, she slashes the air with her baton, drawing out Beethoven’s famous bah-bah-bah-bahh! and they’re off to the races with his Fifth Symphony.

You let the music wash over you in your seat. Its tense, agitated rhythms draw you in like a racing heartbeat, driving from one moment to the next. But after a minute or two, you find your mind wandering. Am I in the mood for dessert tonight? What was that TV series my sister told me about? Where did I leave my keys again?

News from the world of Classical Music

HomeStage: Casey Springstead and Kirsta Rodean

Jun 26, 2020

Casey Springstead and Kirsta Rodean teach music, are involved with Solo Fest, perform, and they have two kids! They took time to perform two pieces for you on this edition of HomeStage.

Three of Rochester’s largest cultural attractions: the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Museum and Science Center, and The Strong National Museum of Play, will open Saturday, June 27, as part of New York Forward’s Phase 4 for reopening. Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week the Finger Lakes and four other regions are on track to begin Phase 4 on Friday.

The George Eastman Museum will remain closed until mid-July due to construction on the Thomas Tischer Visitor Center. The Strong and MAG will be open to members only to start, and RMSC will be open to the general public.

On Nov. 20, 1934, a brand new symphony brought a Carnegie Hall audience to its feet. The concert featured the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by its star conductor Leopold Stokowski. The music was the Negro Folk Symphony, by the 35-year-old African American composer William Dawson.

On a warm spring morning, Allison Roberts walked with bare feet to the art box she installed in front of her South Wedge home.

It looks like a little library, with glass panels on the door and a handle in the shape of a red bird.

"I finally had to put a little note up because people kept putting books it in. No! Only art supplies!” she said with a laugh.                          

Inside are colorful ribbons, paper, and other things people can use to create something.

When will it be safe to sing together again? It’s a question the New York Times asked earlier this month when reporting on how choirs have been linked to several coronavirus outbreaks. Scientific research shows that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets. When singers project in performance settings, they may unwittingly spread the virus, if infected. There have been conflicting messages across the globe about the risk of singing during the pandemic.

This hour, we discuss what the data shows and how local and national groups are adapting, both in the short and long term. Our guests:

  • Lee Wright, director of music ministry at Downtown United Presbyterian Church, and founder artistic director of First Inversion choral ensemble
  • Janet Galván, professor of performance studies, and director of choral activities and conducting at Ithaca College
  • Dr. Scott Stratton-Smith, family medicine specialist with Rochester Regional Health
  • Brenda Tremblay, host for WXXI's Classical 91.5, and member of a local choir

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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

How did we get to the point that singing is considered to be a dangerous act?

That's where we are, in this era of COVID-19. Last week, the nation was reopening bars, restaurants, churches, music venues. Now, more than half the states in the country are pulling back from their premature announcements that the coronavirus pandemic is over, and life may now return to normal.

"Miss Juneteenth" is one of the current virtual offerings at The Little Theatre, part of the Black Cinema Series. It's about a single mom, Turquoise Jones, a former Miss Juneteenth winner, preparing her rebellious teenage daughter to follow in her footsteps and compete in the pageant.

"One message is pride, one message is teaching history," Richard McCollough says.

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