Classical 91.5

Backstage Pass

Monthly, 1 to 2 pm, days vary, on WXXI-FM 91.5, WXXY 90.3, WXXI-FM/HD 91.5-1 and online at wxxi.org

Backstage Pass is a monthly live performance program which highlights performances by local and visiting musicians, giving Classical 91.5/90.3 listeners the backstage experience of meeting the artists “up close and personal.”  Several times each year, Backstage Pass is performed before a live audience of sustaining members.  

The series’ production team includes WXXI-FM Music Director and host Julia Figueras, Supervising Audio Engineer Andrew Croucher, and Executive Producer Jeanne Fisher.

In 2007, 2015, 2017, and 2018, Backstage Pass won Finalist Awards from the New York Festivals, and in 2009 it brought home a Bronze Medal from that international media competition.

Backstage pass is made possible in part by a gift from Drs. Dawn and Jacques Lipson to support performance, innovation and accessibility of the arts in the Rochester community.

Photo: Tyler Boye

When Grammy Award winning guitarist Jason Vieaux performed on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series with Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, they described him as, “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation.” And that's not hyperbole.

Photo: Gerry Szymanski

Ten years ago, Pia Litak and Kathleen Suher decided to start a chamber orchestra that would present tuneful, innovative concerts. They called their new group Cordancia, and today it's better than ever. On the next Backstage Pass, Pia, Kathleen, and the group join Julia Figueras to celebrate their tin anniversary.

Chris Van Hof came to Classical 91.5 as an Arts Leadership Intern from the Eastman School of Music.  Shortly thereafter, Chris took the reins of the afternoon hosting shift for Classical 91.5, bringing a new energy to the shift held for more than 30 years by the late Mordecai Lipshutz. 

PHOTO BY MICHEL GODTS / www.rochestercitynewspaper.com

In Unison

When singer and conductor Anna Atwater first sang in a Concentus Women’s Chorus in 2016 concert, she started at the top, singing in Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols," one of the pinnacles of the repertoire for women's voices.
     "It was spectacular," Atwater says. She immediately joined Concentus. Now, three years later, Atwater is its first new music director since its founding. The ensemble, currently with nineteen members, is devoted to exploring the wide variety of classical music, ranging from medieval chant through contemporary compositions, written specifically for women’s voices.

In 2011, Concentus Women's Chorus gave us the gift of music for our fourth Holiday Backstage Pass.  Eight years later, they return to our studios for another holiday performance, and with a new Music Director. Join our seasonal celebration Wednesday, December 18 at 1 PM. The show repeats on Sunday, December 22 at 1 PM.

You can read more about Concentus and the passing of the baton in David Raymond's City Paper article.  

The professors are coming! On the next Backstage Pass, Julia Figueras introduces you to the Felix Ensemble--a clarinet trio from the Greatbatch School of Music at Houghton College. This faculty trio, which performs regularly in the Southern Tier, is driving a bit north, bringing Brahms, Beethoven, and a bit of Brazil into our studios. Friday afternoon at 1 on Classical 91.5.  The show repeats on Sunday, November 17 at 1 PM.

Anthony Dean Griffey has had an extraordinary journey, from rural North Carolina to the world's greatest opera stages. Now he makes Rochester his home as a voice professor at the Eastman School of Music. On the next Backstage Pass, this four-time Grammy winner shares his story with host Julia Figueras. He and pianist/conductor Timothy Long offer up a program of English and American music on Friday, October 4 at 1 PM. The show will repeat on Sunday, October 6 at 1 PM.


Pegasus Early Music is about to begin Season 15. Founder and Artistic Director Deborah Fox has rounded up three brilliant viola da gamba players to begin this landmark season. David Morris, Lisa Terry, and Beiliang Zhu will all be in our studios to play, and to chat with host Julia Figueras. It's a performance that will be simply viol, Friday September 20 at 1 PM.  The show repeats on Sunday, September 22 at 1 PM.


Backstage Pass is hitting the road again, and you can be there to see it! In celebration of the Gateways Music Festival, Julia Figueras again hosts Backstage Pass live from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre with the GMF Orchestra, guest artists, and a live audience.

Fifteen years ago, a new summer music series came to the Finger Lakes, and Backstage Pass debuted with it. On the next Backstage Pass, the Canandaigua Lake Music Festival returns to talk about changes made and plans for the future. Original founder Amy Barston is joined by her current co-director Kevin Kumar, pianist Audrey Andrist, and the festival's new Executive Director Gaelen McCormick to chat with host Julia Figueras. There will be music, too, on Friday, July 19 at 1 PM. The show repeats on Sunday, July 21 at 1 PM. 

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