Arts & Life

In less than three weeks, the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival will do what the Edinburgh Fringe Festival could not pull off for the first time in its 73-year-history. 

Put on a show.

And that’s no knock on Edinburgh. It’s just a reflection on how huge that nearly monthlong event is. In 2019, it presented more than 60,000 performances of 3,800 different shows. But faced with the coronavirus pandemic this year, the lumbering Edinburgh simply couldn’t pivot to the internet and virtual performances, as so many younger and smaller fringe festivals are now doing.


Big changes are afoot for this year’s KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival, which will be presented as an entirely virtual festival due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers of the 2020 “KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival @ Home” announced highlights and details about the ninth annual festival on Tuesday morning via a streamed version of its annual “Big Reveal” press conference.

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Some of America's first cowboys, Kentucky Derby winners and horse trainers were Black. But if you look at horse communities today, the legacy of African American horsemanship appears to be almost nonexistent.

Matthew Doward is trying to change the image and perception of the modern equestrian. 

For the past 16 years, his program -- A Horse's Friend -- has been providing kids access to their first horse experience.

The Batavia native says there's a lack of diversity in the upstate New York horse communities.

Finger Lakes Opera artists collaborate from a distance

Aug 22, 2020

Four songs and two arias, all by Mozart. That was all that Eastman School of Music graduate and current Finger Lakes Opera Young Artist Robin Steitz found herself singing during the first two months of the pandemic.

"It was kind of cool," she says. "For the first time since I started singing, I wasn't being compelled by some pressing performance coming up. There was nothing outside of myself telling me what I needed to focus on, so I would just obsess over one Mozart song for a week."

Fellow FLO Young Artist Jongwon Choi nearly stopped singing altogether when everything shut down. His opera auditions in Germany were canceled, and opportunity seemed scarce outside of his regular church job. His wedding in Korea was also postponed. "I was very depressed during this virus time," he admits.

Steitz is an itinerant opera singer who recently found refuge in the Berkshires; Choi has been studying at The Mannes School of Music in New York.

For their current venture, though, it doesn't matter where they are physically. Through the summer, they have both been working remotely as two of the 11 participants in Finger Lakes Opera's Tomita Young Artists Program. For both of these young singers, FLO has challenged them musically and inspired them to learn new skills, in order to adapt to the new, technologically mediated opera performances such as those in the "Summer Scenes" virtual concert.

Aaron Winters

Rochester’s bar and music scenes are reeling after clarifications on guidelines from the New York State Liquor Authority that put an abrupt end to the ticketed concerts that have been on the rise at bars and venues across the state.

The clarification stipulates that live music has to be incidental, meaning it cannot be advertised. Bars cannot charge people to hear music, and they cannot promote the music performances, even those as modest as a singer-songwriter providing background music to guests.

Gateways Music Festival/YouTube


Falling in line with other festivals throughout the world, the Gateways Music Festival, postponed from earlier this summer, has confirmed plans to go virtual in November.

The event, which has brought classical musicians of African descent to Rochester since 1995, first partnered with the Eastman School of Music four years ago. Last year’s seven-day event was its largest ever, with 17 public programs, more than 30 community performances and 125 musicians. This year’s Gateways, a five-day event starting on Nov, 9, may be equally ambitious in a different way, when set against the challenge presented by COVID-19.

Wicked Cool Records

It’s nothing but the best for The Empty Hearts when the band goes off in search of inspiration. As Andy Babiuk tells it, there was this one night …

“I was backstage at a Stones show, hanging out with Mick Jagger,” Babiuk says, “and he goes, ‘Hey Andy, I have this song that I think would really work for The Empty Hearts.’ And he literally like, sang the whole song to me.”

Alas, it was, literally, a dream gig.

“And so I got up and I hummed the song into my iPhone and went back to bed,” Babiuk says. “Had I not done that, I would have never remembered it.”

David Temperley is a professor at the Eastman School of Music, and writes classical pieces inspired by pop music...he also writes pop music inspired by classical music. Check out his latest book, "The Musical Language of Rock." Maya Temperley is a pianist and a piano teacher; she's also director of sponsored programs and government affairs at St. John Fisher College.

They're in their HomeStage to play one of David's compositions for you.

Kurt Brownell

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra confirmed Tuesday that it is postponing or canceling all of its September, October and November traditional programming. In place of the performances: Five livestreamed concerts, without an audience, from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

The affected shows include all philharmonic, Pops, Sunday Matinee and orKIDStra Series performances, as well as a series of specials that are being rescheduled for next summer. Events scheduled for December and beyond remain in place while the RPO awaits further word from the state.

Jeannine Herron

Photojournalist Matt Herron, a Rochester native who was known for chronicling the civil rights movement, has died in the crash of a glider he was piloting in northern California, where he lived.

The 89-year-old’s work primarily appeared in the news magazines of the day, including Life, Look and Newsweek.

Matthew John Herron was born in Rochester on Aug. 3, 1931. His father, also named Matthew, was a certified public accountant. His mother, Ruth, was a fabric artist and weaver.