Classical 91.5

Mona Seghatoleslami

Afternoon host

Mona Seghatoleslami is the host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.

Mona is originally from New Jersey; she ventured out to the Midwest for college, where studied viola at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. She got her start in radio at WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana while in grad school studying musicology and library science at Indiana University. She also spent a few years as a radio announcer and producer in West (by God) Virginia, where she also wrote for the Charleston Gazette and taught American music at West Virginia State University.

When she’s not on the radio, you can find Mona attending concerts and movies, playing viola in community orchestras, occasionally strumming the ukulele, riding her bike everywhere, and reading as much as she can – especially The New Yorker and sci-fi novels. She also books the bands for one of the coolest live music venues in Rochester – The Little Theatre Café.

Ways to Connect

Lawrence Brownlee on a red podium at a football stadium, singing, with the American flat behind him

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee issued this statement via email about singing the National Anthem for today's New York Jets vs. Baltimore Ravens football game: 

As I prepare to take the field to sing our National Anthem for the New York Jets vs. the Baltimore Ravens, I feel myself being torn in two different directions. 

The Accursed Huntsman. The name is even creeper in French: Le Chausseur Maudit

This oft overlooked orchestral gem by Belgian composer Cesar Franck was part of the program that I got to hear with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra this past week. It's full of dramatic and creepy effects in the orchestra, as the piece follows the journey of the Count of the Rhine who gets himself in trouble by deciding to go hunting instead of going to church on Sunday. While he's out in the woods, a voice cries to him, "Accursed hunter, be thou eternally pursued by Hell!" And thus, an infernal hunt commences, where the count is now pursued by demons and imps.


With Halloween around the corner, it's a good time to add Franck's Accursed Huntsman to your playlist – along with these other creepy, haunted classical pieces. 

Poster for Eastman Philharmonia Concert outside Lincoln Center in New York City
Boon Hua Lien /

The Eastman Philharmonia and superstar soprano (and Eastman alum) Renee Fleming will perform the world premiere of a new work by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Kevin Puts (also an Eastman alum) on November 12th at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre in Rochester, under the direction of Neil Varon

Then, they will all travel downstate, and two days later, perform this new work, “Letters from Georgia” at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. (read more)

The choir Madrigalia standing together near a piano

Live from Hochstein with host Mona Seghatoleslami is back with a whole new season of performances by some of the finest artists in our area broadcast live from Hochstein Performance Hall. Each of these free “brown bag” concerts runs from 12:10-12:50 p.m., giving downtown business people, teachers, families, students, and friends an opportunity to enjoy classical music during their lunch hour. Live from Hochstein repeats that same day at 10 p.m. on Classical 91.5.

The season kicks off with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director Daniel Meyer on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 12:10 p.m. You can attend these concerts in person at Hochstein, listen to them on the radio on WXXI Classical 91.5, or stream them right here on our website. Here's the full schedule: 

Sheet music cover: The Star Spangled Banner: National Song
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

It caught me off guard. I had forgotten that the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra plays "The Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the first concert of the season. I stood up and started to sing along. 


It caught me off guard. Part way through the anthem, I suddenly started to think of the protests by athlete Colin Kaepernick and others, sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, over issues of social injustice in our country.


It caught me off guard. As we were sitting down, in the brief pause between the end of the anthem and the beginning of the first piece on the concert, someone near me said:

Dr. Jefferson Svengsouk wearing a hat and holding a Native American flute

“My understanding of healing has expanded so much from beyond just the technical to the whole person.” – Dr. Jefferson Svengsouk 

Jefferson Svengsouk is a doctor at the University of Rochester Medical School, where his specialties include emergency medicine and palliative medical care. 

He works his love of music into his practice in a way that is able to relieve pain and anxiety and help patients find peace. He has also found it to be helpful for families of patients, and even fellow hospital staff benefit from the music reducing their stress. 

There are many, many things to do at the Rochester Fringe Festival. It can be overwhelming, but I think the answer is to pick one or two (or five?) things, and just jump in.

I have found some wonders over the past few years:  Bach integrated beautifully with movement, wild musical hijinks with the Fourth Wall Ensemble, and DiaghilesqueBallet Russes classics combined (much to my initial shock) with burlesque. It took some getting over my embarrassment and nerves when I realized what was happening, but I’m glad I went: Diaghilesque turned out to be vulnerable, meaningful expression conveyed through dance, music, and storytelling. 

Look through the website or get the book and choose your own adventure. In case you're interested, here are a few of things that have caught my attention this year (and let me know if you have some favorites to share!):

Pianist Jonathan Biss, seated with scarf
Benjamin Ealovega

Fall. Back to school. Even if you're not packing up your backpack and heading to class, it still feels like a time to start something.

Recently, I have been enjoying taking classes online through Coursera – some for practical reasons, and some just for fun. There are hundreds of courses on all sorts of different topics. Here are a few music-focused classes that caught my interest and you might also enjoy. If you have experience with any of these classes, or others to suggest, I hope you'll share your thoughts in the comments. 

Find peace and hope this week on Live from Hochstein with Musica Spei singing favorite choral masterworks from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

You can see the concert in person at Hochstein or hear the live broadcast on the radio or streaming online, Wednesday May 18th, starting at 12:10pm. 

Soprano Paulina Swierczek and the Eastman Cello Ensemble will perform music by Heitor Villa-Lobos this week on Live from Hochstein. 

You can see the concert in person at Hochstein or hear the live broadcast on the radio or streaming online, Wednesday May 11th, starting at 12:10pm.