Classical 91.5


Wendy Carlos, composer

Wendy Carlos is best known for her electronic music and film scores. She studied physics and music at Brown University before moving to New York City in 1962 to study music composition at Columbia University. Studying and working with various electronic musicians and technicians, she helped in the development of the Moog synthesizer, the first commercially available keyboard instrument created by Robert Moog.

Lara Downes, Pianist, Arts Advocate & Broadcaster

American pianist Lara  Downes began taking piano lessons at age five, and made her debut 10 years later at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Throughout her career she has been passionately committed to seeking out and performing forgotten music by Black composers. In October 2020 NPR Music launched AMPLIFY With Lara Downes, a bi-weekly series of intimate video conversations with visionary Black musicians who are shaping the present and future of the art form.

Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Violinist  

Kelly Hall-Tompkins earned a Bachelor of Music degree with honors in violin performance from the Eastman School of Music and a Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. In 2016 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the Manhattan School of Music, and also delivered the Commencement address. She is also one of three 2017 recipients of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, which was presented at the US Supreme Court by Justice Sotomayor. In addition to extensive touring in the United States and abroad with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, she appears regularly as concertmaster of the Festival Orchestra at the biennial Gateways Music Festival.

Armenta Adams Hummings Dumisani, Pianist & Educator

Armenta Adams Hummings Dumisani is a former Associate Professor of Music at the Eastman School of Music. She received both the Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees in piano at the Julliard School of Music, During her second year at Juilliard, she won the piano competition performing Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor with the Juilliard Orchestra. In addition to recitals and concerts in the United States, her international performances spanned twenty-seven countries on five continents.

Ruth Taiko Watanabe, Pianist & Music Librarian

Ruth Taiko Watanabe was a Japanese-American music librarian who ran the Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music for 38 years (1946-1984). She attended the University of Southern California, where she majored in piano, earning her B.Mus. in 1937 and an M. Mus. in musicology in 1942. Her plan to earn a Ph.D. in English was interrupted by the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. when her family was involuntarily relocated to the Santa Anita Assembly Center.

Valerie Capers, Pianist, Composer & Educator

Dr. Valerie Capers was born in the Bronx and received her early schooling at the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School of Music, the first blind person to do so. For several years she served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. She was also a member of the faculty in the Department of Music and Art at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY) where she introduced several jazz courses to the music curriculum. From 1987 to 1995 she served as department chair, where she is now professor emerita.

The Metropolitan Opera announced today (Sep 23, 2020) that the ongoing health crisis has resulted in the cancellation of the entire 2020–21 season, but the company also announced ambitious artistic plans for its 2021–22 season, which will open with the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones. Blanchard’s opera is the first by an African American composer to be performed at the Met.

Musical Women of the Suffrage Movement

Feb 28, 2020
Portrait of Dame Ethyl Smyth by John Singer Sargent (1901)

As we prepare to celebrate Women's History Month, our minds are on trailblazing women of the past and present. Last month we celebrated Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday and our own Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra presented concerts on the music of suffrage and Susan B. Anthony herself. As I explored this music, I was drawn to suffrage songs and the women who created and inspired them. Many of these composers changed the game for women in music, but they are not often remembered today.

The granddaughter of slaves, Undine Smith Moore’s first musical memories were of the Morningstar Baptist Church in Jarratt, Virginia. She received a scholarship from the Julliard School to study music at Fisk University, and later studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music and the Eastman School. Undine was a co-founder of the Black Music Center at Virginia State College, and today she is known as the “Dean of Black Women Composers.”

Marianna Martines was an 18th century Viennese noblewoman who composed oratorios, masses and sacred choral music. She grew up in the same building as the young composer, Franz Joseph Haydn, and received musical training in voice, harpsichord and composition. Marianna was frequently asked to sing for the Empress Maria Theresa, but she never held an appointed position; which was unacceptable for a woman of her social class at that time.