Classical 91.5

Arts Features

Every day there are exciting things going on in Rochester's cultural arts community.  Classical 91.5 hosts collaborate with and create highlights of various arts organizations, musicians and artists in and around our community. 

Guitarist Raphaella Smits has been visiting Rochester for a few days to teach and perform, including a free concert tonight (7:30pm, Red Room, 1010 East Avenue, Rochester)

On this tour, she is playing music from her most recent album, which is particularly special to her because it marks her 60th birthday.  It’s all music that she has known since she was a young student – but feels that now is the right time for her to play it. 

Gabriella Pulsinelli

This Saturday (April 8th), University of Rochester students will kick off ArtAwake, an annual art and music festival.  But this year, festival organizers faced an unexpected challenge, as Nina Listro explains in this audio report.

Click here for more about ArtAwake and a list of events.

If you remember playing the telephone game as a child, you know that the message at the end of the line is often quite different from what the original message intended.  If we apply this same concept to musical composition, how do we know that the performance we hear today is what the composer originally intended?  And how does music change over time? 

Pianist Kirill Gerstein wanted to know.  So he did his research and this week he is presenting a version of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic, based upon the 1879 version.

The Dallas Opera

At The Dallas Opera, there is a unique program designed to further the careers of distinctively talented female conductors. Women conductors from all over the world apply to participate in the  Linda and Mitch Hart Institute of Women Conductors (IWC).  The PBS NewsHour spoke with Dallas Opera Kern Wildenthal General Director & CEO Keith Cerny.

National Symphony Orchestra Musicians

You may not be able to attend in person, but thanks to technology and a collaboration between The Kennedy Center, the National Symphony Orchestra and, three orchestral concerts will be live streamed around the world.  The three live NSO performances can be viewed worldwide in HD on on Sunday, January 22, at 3 p.m.; Saturday, February 11, at 8 p.m.;

Photo: AfriClassical

Meet Lee Koonce.   He's the first full-time, paid director of a festival that exists to support and encourage diversity in America's classical concert halls.  In this Democrat and Chronicle article by Jeff Spevak, Koonce describes a vision.

“We need a million black and Latino kids playing the violin,” he says. “And another million playing the cello. Two million, even.”

Photo © by David White

When the University of Rochester’s Eastman School decided to send a student orchestra to New York this fall, Dean Jamal Rossi commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts to write something new for soprano Renée Fleming.  It didn’t take composer Kevin Puts long to find a source of inspiration for their collaboration.  Click on the link for the full interview.

An Interview with Neil Varon: "Letters from Georgia"

Nov 9, 2016

This Saturday November 12, the Eastman Philharmonia will premiere “Letters from Georgia” a new work by Kevin Puts featuring soprano Renee Fleming.  What’s special about this premiere is that both Puts and Fleming are Eastman alumni, and the high-profile guests aren’t working with a professional orchestra—the top student orchestra at Eastman is presenting the song cycle on one of their concerts.  This new work was commissioned by the Eastman School and written specially for Ms. Fleming’s voice. 

WXXI Classical Intern Rennie Cotner had the chance to sit down with the music director of the Eastman Philharmonia Neil Varon, to talk about his role in the premiere of the song cycle, which sets letters written by American artist Georgia O’Keefe to music. 

photo by Brenda Tremblay

Composer Glenn McClure is on a journey to Antarctica.   The SUNY Geneseo and Eastman professor will pitch a tent on an ice shelf and listen, working with scientists to collect data which will ultimately shape a piece of music.  His trip is being funded by the National Science Foundation.  Before he left, he spoke with WXXI's Brenda Tremblay.