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.

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Musical Mucha

Nov 8, 2019

"For me, the notions of painting, going to church, and music are so closely knit that often I cannot decide whether I like church for its music, or music for its place in the mystery which it accompanies." – Alphonse Mucha

“Mucha studied to be a musician, you know,” he said.

And I had to admit: I didn’t know that, nor a number a number of the other interesting things that an art historian friend shared with me on our wanderings through the Memorial Art Gallery yesterday.

Aaron Winters

Syrinx XXII is a trio with an unusual, perhaps unique, combination of instruments: flutes, recorders, and piano.

They visited Rochester this week to perform on our lunchtime concert series Live from Hochstein, along with a few other performances throughout the region.  What a discovery! The way that they blend the wide range of tones and textures of their instruments into sweet and surprising music.  You can listen to that show here online. 

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.

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