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

ESP in 360

Apr 8, 2019
Aaron Winters

When the Eastman Saxophone Project played on Live from Hochstein this past week, we tried something new: recording them with 360 cameras!  

What that means: you can watch part of their performance and even adjust your view throughout the ensemble, while hearing their barn-burning take on Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 (in an arrangement by Clancy Ellis) that they played on the show.

Don Giovanni "In Brief"

Apr 5, 2019
Nic Minetor

In case you're thinking about going to see Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni, currently in production at the Eastman School of Music, I'm here to tell you that you don't want to miss it.

Both casts bring color, imagination, and elegance to this slightly unconventional production. I don't want to spoil too much for you, but Director Stephen Carr combines the old and the new to tie the theme of the opera to the current #MeToo movement, and Music Director Timothy Long leads a first-rate group of instrumentalists in the orchestra, both conducting and playing harpsichord continuo.

I grew up in the NYC area surrounded by a large extended family of first- and second-generation Italian immigrants, most hailing from Sicily. I enjoyed the musical aftermath of our extended family visits where uncles and cousins would play their mandolins and guitars after sharing a traditional meal and lively conversation! 

I recently received one of my uncle’s Gibson mandolins from my cousin that was hanging on his wall and during a recent visit, it was offered and became my current musical obsession.

  First there was one. Then a few. And now many – all over the world. 

In 2010, cellist Dale Henderson played some music by JS Bach in a subway station in New York City. Plenty of people play music in the NYC subways, busking for whatever money people will toss their way.

But this time was different: Henderson declined the money people wanted to throw in his case. Instead, he offered audiences free postcards explaining that his intentions were to sow the seeds for future generations of classical music lovers.

Quilted Music: Caris Burton and Birds in Warped Time

Feb 12, 2019

Hearing a piece of music on WXXI Classical 91.5 inspired quilting artist Caris Burton to create a new work. I love the connections she made with this music and its composer, and I'm glad that she took some time to write up this story to share with us. This was originally posted in 2013, on our old website. I'm bringing it back to our current site, in part because this work is on display in a new exhibit at Gallery 384, as part of a show by the Rochester Area Fiber Artists.

Celebrating with Fernando Sor

Feb 11, 2019

Guitarist (and Rochester treasure) Lawrence Johnson was featured earlier on WXXI as part of our series Musicians of Rochester. He and I have stayed in touch since that interview, and he recently reminded me that February 12th is most likely the birthday of his favorite composer Fernando Sor:  

"Fernando Sor was probably born Feb. 12 (1778) - the same month and day as your birthday! (The only record we have is his baptism on Feb. 14, 1778 - my understanding is that generally the birth preceeds the baptism - especially in winter months - by at least two days." 

In honor of that shared birthday, I asked Lawrence to share a few facts about Fernando Sor, along with a few recordings of his works. If these facts intrigue, you can also read more in this essay Lawrence Johnson wrote about this long overlooked guitarist/composer who has recently received more recognition and acclaim.

Whistling girls and cackling hens,
Never make very good ends

Such was the wisdom bestowed upon me by one annoyed adult at my childhood whistling habit. She missed out on directing me to a future career as a siffleur – a whistler!

It’s a thing! Really! And after not turning up too much on a few searches, I have found a treasure trove of whistling resources – links to many other performers, directions on how to whistle (and improve your technique), and the Masters of Musical Whistling Festival later this year in Los Angeles.  

Music Therapy in Aiding the Elderly with Memory Loss

Jan 18, 2019

  Before I begin this post, I want to introduce myself, as you most likely have not seen my name on this website before! My name is Ellen Robertson, and I am the Eastman School of Music Arts Leadership Program Spring Intern at Classical 91.5; I am originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and now a senior majoring in vocal performance.

Deb Guarneiri is a music teacher on a mission: help people with upper arm disabilities to play the ukulele. 

Playing the ukulele brought her back to music in a difficult time – and she now is inspired to share that source of joy with others.

As part of WXXI's Dialogue on Disablilty, Dr. Catherine Lewis offers up this guest blog post.

Here in Rochester we are so fortunate to have a local public radio station deeply engaged in our community and attuned to important conversations happening in the world today. For several years now, WXXI Classical 91.5 has hosted a Dialogue on Disability during which composers and performers with disabilities are featured and disability experiences are celebrated. WXXI’s insightful programming is a powerful vehicle for changing the narrative around disability.  In anticipation of Dialogue on Disability 2019, I was honored to be asked by WXXI’s Julia Figueras to write a blog post about the language we use to discuss disability.  I offer the following with gratitude to WXXI for lifting up the work and stories of artists with disabilities and for sharing great music all year round.

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