Classical 91.5

COVID-19

Curt Long, President and CEO of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, says orchestras across the country are looking for answers on how to perform music in a pandemic, and in each city, the challenges are somewhat different. In New York City, the New York Philharmonic is canceling its entire season for the first time in its 178-year history.

One way the RPO is keeping the music playing is with live-streamed concerts. Those kicked off in September, and Long says those performances a work in progress.

Four songs and two arias, all by Mozart. That was all that Eastman School of Music graduate and current Finger Lakes Opera Young Artist Robin Steitz found herself singing during the first two months of the pandemic.

"It was kind of cool," she says. "For the first time since I started singing, I wasn't being compelled by some pressing performance coming up. There was nothing outside of myself telling me what I needed to focus on, so I would just obsess over one Mozart song for a week."

Fellow FLO Young Artist Jongwon Choi nearly stopped singing altogether when everything shut down. His opera auditions in Germany were canceled, and opportunity seemed scarce outside of his regular church job. His wedding in Korea was also postponed. "I was very depressed during this virus time," he admits.

Steitz is an itinerant opera singer who recently found refuge in the Berkshires; Choi has been studying at The Mannes School of Music in New York.

For their current venture, though, it doesn't matter where they are physically. Through the summer, they have both been working remotely as two of the 11 participants in Finger Lakes Opera's Tomita Young Artists Program. For both of these young singers, FLO has challenged them musically and inspired them to learn new skills, in order to adapt to the new, technologically mediated opera performances such as those in the "Summer Scenes" virtual concert.


The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra confirmed Tuesday that it is postponing or canceling all of its September, October and November traditional programming. In place of the performances: Five livestreamed concerts, without an audience, from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

The affected shows include all philharmonic, Pops, Sunday Matinee and orKIDStra Series performances, as well as a series of specials that are being rescheduled for next summer. Events scheduled for December and beyond remain in place while the RPO awaits further word from the state.

Editor's note: As soon as I read this essay by conductor Ramona Wis, I wanted to share it with you.  Dr. Wis's ideas offer comfort for everyone, not just musicians.  We can all face an uncertain future with grace and courage.  We're all in this together. ~  Brenda Tremblay

The Conductor as Yogi: From Holding Space to Making Space

By Ramona M. Wis

The first time I heard the phrase “holding space” was from a colleague describing her experience with someone going through a tough time.  “I just held space for her,” she said.  It was a phrase I was not familiar with but soon started seeing everywhere (or maybe it was just “blue car syndrome,” where my increased awareness led to noticing what was always there).

HomeStage: Hanna PK

Jul 9, 2020

The fact that Hanna PK is in Rochester shows the breadth of musical talent here. While known for blues, she's a singer-songwriter in a variety of genres. With a lot of us yearning for a return to a new 'normal', Hanna PK performs “Soyo Arirang," inspired by the old Korean folk tradition called Arirang.


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.

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

Christine Lavin video

A community of neighbors and music lovers has produced a video tribute to essential workers.  It's focused on daily life on Mulberry Street, home of Mary Slothower Lavin.  She took photos of essential workers doing their jobs, and her sister Christine Lavin (a folk singer and  Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductee) wrote original music for a slideshow.   Christine edited the video with a performance of her music played on the viola by high school student Amelia Krinke.  Small world note: Krinke is daughter of Eastman grad Jenny Undercofler and the granddaughter of James Undercofler, the former dean of the Eastman School.

​​Bachfest Malaysia (Malaysia Bach Festival) was founded in 2015 by Artistic Director David Chin to promote the music of J.S. Bach in Malaysia and beyond through performance and education. David is well known to the Rochester music community from his time here leading many performances, focusing on music by Bach, while he was a doctoral student at the Eastman School of Music. 

For two years, the musicians of Bachfest Malaysia had been looking forward to performing at the St. Thomas Church during Bachfest Leipzig 2020 in June. Since the festival planned for this year has now been postponed to 2022, they decided to make a virtual performance recording of a complete cantata – Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62 – one of the three cantatas which they were going to perform at the festival.

While Live from Hochstein is on hold while can't gather in person, we have been revisiting past programs on the radio on Wednesdays, including highlights during the noon hour with Julia Figueras, and full programs at 9pm.

Our featured highlight over lunch this Wednesday comes from the intriguing, international trio Syrinx XXII, who played on Live from Hochstein this past fall.  They also took the time during that visit to meet with the local chapter of the American Recorder Society and stop by our studio for some conversation.

I was able to catch up with Katharine over email, and she collected and shared some stories of how they have been doing since they visited us in Rochester. 

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