Classical 91.5

Classical Blog

This is a place where our classical hosts, interns and artists can share their stories, viewpoints and point of view on topics related to classical music and the arts in general.  Come back to this page often to read the latest and share your comments.

Ways to Connect

https://www.alamhof.org/

Jason Max Ferdinand, Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL), takes a new approach to choral directing.  In 2019 he took his ensemble, the Aeolians of Oakwood University, to the American Choral Directors Association's national conference where the singers blew away the audience by challenging racial biases in the choral world with their outstanding performances of traditional Western classical songs and Black music. 

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/black-composers-who-made-classical-music-history/

One of WXXI's (recent) Community Advisory Board Members and lover of classical music, shared Alex Ross' September 14, 2020 New Yorker article with me, titled Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music. It is long; it is deep; it gives perspective; it challenges; it enlightens; it is thought-provoking, and so much more.  As we face the challenges of race, diversity, equity and inclusion, I will not make a personal statement about this article - I will simply challenge you to read it and think about it. 

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Since the pandemic shuttered all live music performances, musicians have been struggling to figure out how to bring music back to the people, and how to keep up the learning and performing.  The creativity has been outstanding as so many have learned to use technology both to learn and share their art.

Life as a Black Classical Pianist

Aug 12, 2020
Provided

Editor’s note:  Canadian pianist Luke Welch says he feels like a unicorn in the world of classical music.  Luke was born and grew up in Mississauga, Ontario. He played his first public performance at age seven.  He’s passionate, talented, and sometimes bewildered by how he’s been treated.  I hope his account of his experiences will move you as much as it moves me.  ~ Brenda Tremblay

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).

Aaron Winters

The Public Media Journalists Association (PMJA) has announced awards for outstanding journalism, and two WXXI staffers have earned accolades for their work.

Mona Seghatoleslami won 2nd place in the ‘Best use of Sound’ category for a feature she did called “New Sounds from Ossia” about student-run ensemble at the Eastman School of Music.

Listen to Mona’s feature.  

An energetic quiet descends on the auditorium as the light dims. You welcome the concertmaster with polite applause, and he leads the orchestra in one final tuning. The conductor strides confidently onstage, swinging her arm with panache to gesture for the orchestra to rise as she takes the bow on their behalf. As she takes her place at the podium, the audience on the edge of their seats, a few coughs break the silence. Suddenly, she slashes the air with her baton, drawing out Beethoven’s famous bah-bah-bah-bahh! and they’re off to the races with his Fifth Symphony.

You let the music wash over you in your seat. Its tense, agitated rhythms draw you in like a racing heartbeat, driving from one moment to the next. But after a minute or two, you find your mind wandering. Am I in the mood for dessert tonight? What was that TV series my sister told me about? Where did I leave my keys again?

The Power (and complicity) of Classical Music

Jun 10, 2020

(This is a guest post from C24's Music Through the Night host Garrett McQueen.)  

As the world begins to heal following the deaths of George FloydAhmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, people are taking another look at the ways in which racism has impacted institutions beyond law enforcement — including classical music.

Violinist.com

“The show must go on...”

That mantra is the rallying cry of artists finding ways to create, perform, and share their work no matter what is happening around them. But Tuesday June 2nd is different: a group in the music industry is calling on performers, musicians and the industry itself to make a different choice in light of ongoing racism and violence.

The music begins with me, so I must write music that resonates with me and that I feel committed to sharing with the world. But the music comes to life through performers, teachers, students, and audiences. And when they chuckle at a funny moment or are moved by a lyrical melody, then I know I have written something meaningful.” –  Steve Danyew

Steve Danyew is a composer based here in Rochester, who also teaches courses focused on helping young musicians develop their own creative careers at the Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership.

He took the time to share a little bit of his creative process for a recent composition that awaits its premiere: a fanfare inspired by a mural on the wall of Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre. 

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