Peace amidst war in opera at Glimmerglass

Aug 18, 2018

Cooperstown, New York means one thing to baseball fans  - the Hall of Fame, And another thing to opera fans – The Glimmerglass Festival, held every summer.

One of the operas on stage this year is Silent Night – based on a true story of a legendary cease-fire during World War I.

A recent article in the New York Times is touting creativity as a new "cure" for the midlife crisis. The Times reports that creativity has emerged as a popular antidote for boredom and a way to find meaning and purpose. Many people in their 40s and 50s are picking up their paintbrushes, learning to sing for the first time, or revisiting passions from their youth. The moves have helped these emerging or re-emerging artists combat anxiety and depression, reinvent themselves, or even breathe new life into a decades-long career.

This hour, we're joined by local artists from a variety disciplines, who share how their passions helped them find new meaning both personally and professionally. In studio: 

  • Jack Feerick, critic-at-large for popdose.com, and current lead singer for Roscoe's Basement
  • Laura Fleming, licensed clinical social worker, comedy improvisor, and quilter
  • Jack Baron, president and COO of Sweetwater Energy, and member of the band, You Don't Know Jack
  • Lorraine Fusare, dabbler in the arts

We have a conversation about the challenges of bringing the arts to rural areas. Shake on the Lake is a professional Shakespeare touring company based in Silver Lake. The founders created the organization after observing the disparity in arts and cultural opportunities in rural communities. They’re one of a few local organizations that bring theater and the arts to underserved rural groups, including the prison population.

We discuss their work and how it impacts cultural and economic development in the areas they serve. Our guests:

A new play at Geva Theatre tackles war, immigration, the refugee experience, and the gray area between right and wrong. “Heartland” is the story of an Afghan refugee and an American professor who form an unexpected friendship. It’s a production that speaks to the value theater can have in helping audiences understand the human stories behind political issues.

Our guests discuss the play, and how the arts can help us understand our world. We also preview Geva’s 46th season. In studio:

RBTL/LaBella Associates

A proposal for putting a performing arts center in downtown Rochester is raising some concerns among area arts organizations.

WXXI News has learned that letters from the Arts and Cultural Council for  Greater Rochester,  and some of the organizations it represents including Geva Theatre Center and the RPO were sent to City Council members this week, asking for more transparency and information.

The Rochester area has made a top-20 list of organizations being recognized for their support of the arts.

The list is put out by the National Center for Arts Research, part of Southern Methodist University, and it publishes what it calls an annual Arts Vibrancy Index.

The Rochester metro area ranks number 19 on the list of the top 20 most ‘arts vibrant’ large communities (population over 1 million). The total survey  ranks more than 900 communities.

For years Rochester resident Deborah Haber wanted to find a way to tell her parent’s story. Eventually she did, on a theatrical stage. It’s a story of one of the darkest times in world history. It’s a story of the implications of displacement for those facing persecution during the Holocaust. It’s a story of the power of a fighting spirit. And as the co-creator and producer of the musical Moses Man explains, it’s also a story that connects to our nation’s current political climate, from anti-semitic hatred to the refugee crisis. So what was once a personal story is now one that Haber wants to personalize for everyone and she’s doing it through a week-long multi arts event. Deborah Haber joins this edition of Need to Know to share more about Finding Home: Shine the Light (in Rochester March 23 - April 1).

The director of the Smithsonian is in Rochester, and is our guest. Technically, his title is secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and we talk to David Skorton about his views on the arts and the humanities -- how they build cities, how they're sustained, and whether he thinks they're currently under threat.

Skorton will be part of a mini-conference on Friday at the Memorial Art Gallery. Our guests:

Fred SanFilipo

(photos by WXXI photographer Fred SanFilipo)

The First Niagara Festival wraps up Saturday and founding producer Erica Fee is hoping for record setting attendance for the 10-day event.

She says last year, they had more than 63,000,  and she expects to top that this year.

Fee says one trend they’ve been seeing is the festival, which features an eclectic mix of performances, is attracting people from outside the region.


You won't see as much public art at the airport as you used to. It's been largely a business decision, but artists say that visitors to Rochester should be greeted with cultural assets, not blaring advertisements.

What do Monroe County officials say? We talk about their perspective, and we talk about the larger place of public art in our community with our guests: