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

This is the start. It’s like the opening moments of a “Star Trek” episode, where you know the new young guy in the blue shirt will be the one to die at the hands of an alien, before Captain Kirk works it out. Likewise, the editors at WXXI have shot down all of my suggestions, so you can help name this column. Until then, it’s called “Your Name Here.”

play.primephonic.com

It was the early 1980's and I had just begun my work at WXXI as the radio secretary (WXXI had only one radio station at the time).  Our news team had scheduled an interview with the legendary opera soprano Jessye Norman while she was in town. She came through the door near my desk in a full length fur coat, head held majestically and floated past my desk in a way that left a lasting impression on this 20-something voice major, just a few years out of college. The scene is as vivid in my mind today, as the day it happened.

I got a call one day from Jeanie Williams, a features editor at the now long-defunct Rochester Times-Union. She had heard my review of a revue—Irving Berlin’s songs performed at the old Downstairs Cabaret located in a restaurant’s basement at the corner of Andrews and St Paul. She’d been unable to send someone to cover it and asked if the paper could run what I’d read on the radio the morning after the show opened.

Brenda Tremblay

How was your summer?

Mine was transformational. 

It began with a phone call last spring.   A singer and retired teacher contacted me and asked, “How would your church like a pipe organ?”   

My ears maximally perked.   As a church musician for about fifteen years, I’d been playing a 1960’s Allen electric organ, a workhorse at the end of its life.  Pipe organ purists would call it a toaster.

Kathryn Lewek on Twitter

Early this week, American soprano Kathryn Lewek unleased a firestorm of social media posts taking aim at opera critics who've commented on her body.   Lewek, a nursing mother, says she was appalled and hurt by reviews of her performance as Eurydice in a production of Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at the Salzburg Festival.

There’s always a great variety of music at the Rochester Public Market on Saturday mornings. One of the people who is a regular there is my friend Alyssa Rodriguez, a fiddler who plays Swedish, Irish, and American tunes (she also works at WXXI and teaches music at The Kanack School).

A few Saturdays ago when I was hanging out at the market watching Alyssa play, people kept stopping to ask her: what is THAT?

A Gateways Music Festival Reflection with Jaman Dunn

Aug 20, 2019
Neal Ganguli

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jaman Dunn, the new Assistant Conductor, Community Engagement at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Jaman was in Rochester to participate in the Gateways Music Festival as a guest conductor. Gateways aims to connect and support professional classical musicians of African descent, and enlightens and inspires communities through the power of performance.


Jorrell Williams says he found opera almost by accident in school music class, and found a love of both traditional roles and exciting new stories contemporary composers are approaching through opera. Elaine Alvarez heard opera from birth thanks to her music teacher mom, and she has remained in love with the "elemental communication" of music.

Reflections on the Moon Landing

Jun 19, 2019
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Il_mondo_della_luna_%28Goldoni%29%2C_1794.jpg

The opera buffa Il mondo della luna was first performed on August 13rd, 1777 in Hungary. Written by Joseph Haydn (libretto by Carlo Goldini), it tells the story of an astronomer who tricks a rich aristocrat into marrying off his daughters. The astronomer does so by convincing the aristocrat he has been transported to the moon, and puts on a bogus marriage ceremony featuring the ‘Emperor of the Moon’ and the rest of his court (played by himself and the aristocrat’s daughters).

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Quite frequently here at WXXI we are asked what listeners can do with their old pianos.  It seems that in this day when many are downsizing and people don't stay in one place for many years as they used to, few people are interested in having a large instrument in their home; much less one that can't easily be moved. 

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