Brenda Tremblay

Brenda Tremblay bolts out of bed every weekday morning at 4:00 a.m. to present classical music on Classical 91.5 FM, streaming at wxxi.org.   (The broadcast starts at 6:00 a.m. with birdsong, inspired by the BBC.)  She’s an NEA Fellow who’s interviewed musical luminaires such as Renée Fleming, Yo-Yo Ma, and Steve Reich.  She also produces and hosts the RPO radio concerts and other local productions, and works with the Center for Public Affairs to create arts and cultural coverage for all media services.  Her productions have earned three Gracies from the Association of Women in Radio and Television, many AP awards, and a national Gabriel Award. 

Away from the studio, Brenda serves as Music Director at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Brockport, New York.  She loves to sing.  She’s performed with choirs in Carnegie Hall, Westminster Abbey, and in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.  In Rochester, some of her best musical memories have been made with friends in the Rochester Oratorio Society, Madrigalia, and with Tasty Parker and the Joy Riders.

Among the many lessons we’ve learned this past year is this: most of us will never take live music for granted again. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra used the time off from live concerts during the pandemic to reevaluate its leadership role in a community frayed by racial strife.

Here’s a little perspective.

Provided by David Pomplas

Historian David Pomplas’ fascination with the 1918 pandemic was fueled by letters passed down through his family from his great-grandmother, Katherine Brookins Hinman from the village of Dansville in Livingston County.

In one letter, Hinman’s husband -- who had lost his mother and brother to the 1918 influenza -- wrote that he was leaving Dansville because “pretty soon everybody's going to be dead.”

We’ve been here before.

That’s according to Dan Cody, who works in the Local History and Genealogy Department at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County and wrote his Master’s thesis on Rochester and the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Cody says there are striking parallels to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1918 influenza “spread like a spider web across America,” he said, arriving in Rochester in late September by train. Officials weren’t sure what the illness was, but they knew it was extremely infectious.

Biology, climate change, immigration, and Fascism: Meredith Monk is a “Genius Grant” Award-winning artist who’s taken on some of the most impactful and most difficult issues of our time.

A version of this story, along with a complete interview with Meredith Monk, is available on the Classical 91.5 website.

Former Rochester resident and long-time Eastman professor Christopher Rouse died unexpectedly on Saturday.

His wife Natasha Rouse made the announcement on his facebook page:

"I am greatly saddened to announce the death of my husband and friend, Christopher Chapman Rouse III, on September 21st at 11:27 a.m. He passed away unexpectedly due to sudden complications from his eight year battle with renal cancer.

To get to know Maria Newman, you have to understand who her father was.   She is the daughter of nine time Academy award-winning film composer Alfred Newman, who wrote the 20th century Fox fanfare.  Her brothers and cousin are equally famous; there’s Randy Newman of Toy Story fame, Thomas Newman, who scored Finding Nemo and Shawshank Redemption. Her brother David has scored nearly 100 films such as Galaxy Quest

It’s no exaggeration to say she comes from a musical dynasty.

The summer solstice is “Make Music Day,” which is being celebrated in Rochester and around the world.  If you’re downtown on Friday afternoon, you might notice a group of people standing in a circle with their arms linked. 

They’ll be doing the Heart Chant by composer Pauline Oliveros.  


This past weekend, the Rochester City School District marching band embarked on its first-ever out-of-state trip to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania.

This trip was a watershed moment, according to Alison Schmitt, lead teacher for the Arts Department in the Rochester City School District.

One week ago, many watched in horror as Notre Dame burned in Paris.  Musicians were especially concerned about the cathedral’s iconic pipe organ. It's the largest in France, with five keyboards and more than 8,000 pipes; some parts of the instrument date back to the 1730s. Going back farther in history, there has been an organ in the same spot since 1402.   


Honey Meconi brings music history to life.  

In her new book, Hildegard of Bingen, Meconi offers fresh insight into one of the most creative composers of her time, Hildegard, a German writer and mystic who lived the town of Bingen on the Rhine River.  In the twelfth century, she produced music, theological books, medical texts, and paintings.