Classical 91.5

Megan Mack

Megan Mack the producer of Connections with Evan Dawson and Unleashed: The Pet Show. She joined the WXXI News team from WHEC-TV, where she produced newscasts and The Olympic Zone, and from the University of Rochester, where she served as an assistant director of public relations. Her background extends to television sports and entertainment, and to communications and social media management for non-profits.

Megan earned her B.S. in Television-Radio-Film from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and her B.A. in Italian Language, Literature, and Culture from the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. She is also a graduate of The Second City’s Conservatory program.


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

The Rochester Fringe Festival revealed its modified 2020 schedule. Festival producer Erica Fee has been in contact with many people in the arts community, and there has been some debate and confusion about safety.

We discuss the decision-making process in a major festival during a pandemic, and we explore the questions that some in the arts community are expressing. Our guest:

  • Erica Fee, producer of the Rochester Fringe Festival

Teachers and parents across Monroe County had to act quickly last week when the county ordered all schools to close. They’ve developed lessons and curricula that can be taught remotely.

This hour, we talk with teachers and parents about the work they are doing, the buy-in from students so far, and their recommendations for families who will be educating kids from home for the foreseeable future.

We also discuss WXXI’s new Learn at Home programming – a special education television block in support of families, educators, and students. Our guests:

  • Marion French, vice president of education and interactive services at WXXI
  • Cara Rager, manager of education training and family engagement at WXXI
  • Erica Davis, music teacher at Williamson Central School District, and parent of three children
  • Kristin Loftus, math coach at Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts, and parent of two children

Garth Fagan Dance, the Rochester City School District, and the City of Rochester’s Black Heritage Committee are all teaming up to offer a Black History Month celebration on Saturday, February 29.

A book authored by Eastman School of Music graduate Lauren Haley provides tips for how to develop motivation and talent in children through music. “Kids Aren’t Lazy” provides strategies for fostering self-direction, critical thinking, and creativity in children who are learning musical instruments. Haley is in Rochester to give a talk at the University of Rochester, but first, she joins us on Connections to discuss her research.

We’re also joined by a professional trumpeter and a child psychiatrist who discuss how to positively motivate kids to pursue and practice any hobby or interest they have, while also balancing other life priorities. In studio:

What does it take to be an artist in 2019? We sit down with artists in a variety of media to discuss their work, how they sell their art, and the other opportunities they take advantage of in order to create the time and space to do their creative work. 

Our guests:

The Gateways Music Festival is back. The six-day festival that celebrates and supports classical musicians of African descent kicks off on Tuesday in Rochester. Nationwide, less than two percent of orchestra members are African American.

Gateways organizers say they hope their programming will inspire underrepresented musicians and audience members to seek out classical music. They join us to preview the festival and its music. In studio:

  • Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival
  • James Norman, president of the Gateways Music Festival Board of Directors
  • Herb Smith, trumpeter with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and member of the Artistic Programs Committee for the Gateways Music Festival

What’s next for Parcel 5? It’s a question Rochestarians have been asking for years. On Tuesday, City Council unanimously approved a measure that would allow Mayor Lovely Warren to apply for $4.7 million in state funding to develop the site. The Warren administration is aiming to model Parcel 5 after Kansas City Live!, an entertainment district flanked by restaurants and bars that hosts year-round events and concerts.

This hour, we’re joined by community members who have been active participants in discussions about the site. Some have advocated for green space, others have pushed for a space for the arts. We explore their visions and discuss the future of Parcel 5. In studio:

How does music capture a culture, or a political moment, or a time of change? One of the great musical historians is a WXXI host and contributor, and his new book looks at what he calls “City Songs.”

We sit down with Michael Lasser to discuss how music shaped public perspectives as America developed, and we talk about how to recognize when a song goes from just a song to something more culturally powerful.

Honoring Frederick Douglass in word and song

Dec 4, 2018
J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester Photo

A descendant of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington says Rochester should be the permanent home of an organization dedicated to their legacies.

Kenneth Morris is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington. His non-profit organization, the Douglass Family Initiatives, provides educational programming about modern day slavery and the prevention of human trafficking.

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