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

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.

This Backstage Pass is downright saxy! The award winning Scio Quartet from the Eastman School of Music joins host Julia Figueras for a fun discussion and some serious saxophone playing. Find out where they're going...and where they've been on Friday, May 3 at 1 PM. The show repeats on Sunday, May 5 at 1 PM.

Russian flutist Irina Stachinskaya came into town for a Rochester Flute Association Master Class and recital at the Eastman School of Music. She and pianist Irina Lupines made room in their schedules for Backstage Pass with Julia Figueras. Irina Stachinskaya was only 14 when she landed her first job: Principal Flute for the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra. Since then, she's been very, very busy...and you'll get to hear about her adventures Tuesday, April 2 at 1 PM. The show repeats on Sunday, April 7 at 1 PM.

You may have noticed a change or two in the players of your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra this year. One major addition: a new Principal Harpist. In the next Backstage Pass, host Julia Figueras will introduce you to Grace Browning, now in her first season with your RPO. To celebrate Women's History Month, Grace is bringing in a stack of music by women to play for your enjoyment. Tune in Tuesday, March 19 at 1 PM. The show will repeat Sunday, March 24 at 1 PM.

The Gateways Brass Collective, a newly formed quintet of participants in the Gateways Music Festival, was just in town for a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. On Friday, February 15 at 1 PM, you will meet these extraordinary musicians of African descent and hear some snappy performances, too. The show encores on Sunday, February 17 at 1 pm.

Meet the players (l. to r.)

Amanda Collins, horn; Herb Smith, trumpet; Richard White, tuba; Isrea Butler, trombone; Courtney Jones, trumpet 

Every year, the William Warfield Scholarship Fund hosts a concert featuring the current recipient, along with several other African-American artists in Rochester. Just two days before the concert, Jonathan Rhodes, who currently holds the scholarship, chats with Backstage Pass host Julia Figueras.  Joining Jonathan in song are Jazmine Saunders, Alexis Peart, and Marcus Jefferson, all classmates at the Eastman School of Music. Thomas Warfield, the historian for WWSF, also joins the conversation. Friday, January 11 at 1 PM, with an encore Sunday, January 13 at 1 PM.

It's time again to roll out our holiday edition of Backstage Pass!  This year, we're off to the movies with the Empire Film and Media Ensemble (EFAME)! EFAME, who began our 2018 Backstage Pass season in January, finishes off the year playing music from some of our most memorable holiday movies, including Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and (of course) A Charlie Brown Christmas. So grab your popcorn balls and egg nog, while host Julia Figueras and EFAME supply the soundtrack on Thursday, December 13 at 1 PM. The show will repeat on Sunday, December 16 at 1 PM.

Meet fivebyfive. Their goal: to seek out and play interesting, tonal new music. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to tune in to Backstage Pass with this impressive Rochester group of teaching musicians and host Julia Figueras for an hour of conversation and intriguing new music. Tuesday, November 13 and Sunday, November 18; both shows at 1 PM. 

Meet the Lilac Quartet. These four Eastman School of Music students have been making a name for themselves lately--winning competitions, doing outreach at schools around the city...even playing in jazz concerts from time to time. You'll get to know them all better when they join Julia Figueras for Backstage Pass. It all happens Monday, October 29 at 1 PM, with an encore on Sunday, November 4, also at 1.    

Lee Wright and First Inversion return to Backstage Pass with "Holding on Through Song," a sneak preview of their upcoming Fringe Festival debut. The program combines improvisation with arrangements of African American spirituals and the words of former slaves, including Rochester's Frederick Douglass.  WXXI's Kearstin Piper Brown will be a featured soloist, along with other Rochester musicians. Julia Figueras hosts this powerful edition of Backstage Pass on Tuesday, September 11 at 1 PM. The show repeats on Sunday, September 16 at 1 PM.

University of Rochester

In celebration of the life and work of Dr. Paul Burgett, Classical 91.5 aired the Backstage Pass that was broadcast live from the Gateways Music Festival in August 2017. Dr. Burgett was the Chairman of Gateways’ Board of Directors.

Julia Figueras was live at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre with the entire GMF orchestra, guest artists, and a live audience.  Music Director Michael Morgan, RPO trumpeter Herb Smith, pianist Stewart Goodyear, and violinist Amadi Azikiwe were among the guests who chatted with Julia, along with GMF Board President Paul Burgett and Artistic Director Lee Koonce and Eastman School of Music Dean Jamal Rossi.

Music on the program includes Adolphus Hailstork's An American Port of Call and the final movement of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto.