WXXI AM News

Classical Music

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.


Rochester violinist advocates for Black classical musicians

Aug 8, 2020
Sheridan Paige Photography

Violinist Epongue Ekille from Rochester is one of the people calling for a greater recognition of Black musicians’ contributions to classical music. She shares her experiences and some listening recommendations.


Remembering David Hochstein

May 24, 2020
Courtesy of The Hochstein School

 The Hochstein School is named for musician David Hochstein, whose legacy continues to live on more than a century after his death.

This musically inclined young man from Rochester was on his way to a successful international career, thanks to a chance encounter that changed his life.


Susan B. at the symphony

Jan 31, 2020

This year’s observances of Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday celebration and the centenary of the 19th Amendment are momentous events, but at first glance they may not seem to inspire musical celebrations. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is prepared to prove otherwise this weekend and next.

Rochester composer combines musical worlds

Jan 11, 2020
Maya Temperley

David Temperley composes tuneful, expressive pieces in a classical mold. But he also draws on influences from the popular music he grew up listening to on the radio. These inspirations include disco, The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, and The Police.


Finger Lakes Opera brings relatable characters to stage

Aug 9, 2019
Dave Jones, Empire West Photo

The characters in Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème start out as broad archetypes:  the moody poet, a fun-loving musician, a lonely young woman dreaming of love, a flirtatious party girl...it’s easy for everyone to see something of themselves – or their friends – in this group of characters.

But as the cast of this summer’s Finger Lakes Opera production of La Bohème discussed – the opera’s true power lies in how all these characters change, as you can hear with musical selections drawn from classic recordings of the opera.

The Gateways Music Festival is back. The six-day festival that celebrates and supports classical musicians of African descent kicks off on Tuesday in Rochester. Nationwide, less than two percent of orchestra members are African American.

Gateways organizers say they hope their programming will inspire underrepresented musicians and audience members to seek out classical music. They join us to preview the festival and its music. In studio:

  • Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival
  • James Norman, president of the Gateways Music Festival Board of Directors
  • Herb Smith, trumpeter with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and member of the Artistic Programs Committee for the Gateways Music Festival

Hidden treasure in walls of Eastman School of Music

May 24, 2019

There is a hidden treasure in the walls of the Eastman School of Music that has been there since the 1920s. It's in Kilbourn Hall, and even if you have attended concerts there, you've probably never seen or heard it.


Conductor inspires UR students to challenge selves, society

Apr 17, 2019
Matt Wittmeyer

Conductor Dr. Rachel Waddell describes music as a “performing tool to bring people together.” She views her work with the orchestras at the University of Rochester’s River Campus as a chance to have people challenge themselves, and society.  

Remembering André Previn in Rochester

Mar 1, 2019

World-renowned composer, conductor, and pianist Andre Previn has died at the age of 89. 

During his wide-ranging career, Previn wrote Oscar-winning movie scores, played piano on noted jazz recordings, conducted pretty much all the top orchestras.

His compositions included an opera version of A Streetcar Named Desire – written for Renee Fleming in the starring role.  And in 2014, he wrote a piece for the Eastman Wind Ensemble: Music for Wind Orchestra (No strings attached).

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