WXXI AM News

Classical Music

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).

New Sounds from OSSIA at Eastman

Feb 24, 2019

A group of students at the Eastman School of Music wants to expand the range of sounds in your life: they're the student-run new music ensemble, OSSIA.

Noah Kahrs is a composer in the last semester of a master’s degree program at Eastman and technical director for OSSIA.

Kahrs says one of the more memorable pieces he worked on with OSSIA was Xerox Rock, by Celeste Oram.

What is the future of classical music in America?

The Eastman School of Music is hosting three guest scholars this weekend who will help answer that question. They join us in studio for a preview of their presentations about teaching classical music in the digital age and the challenges future music leaders will face. Our guests:

  • Robert Winter, distinguished professor of music at UCLA
  • Robert Freeman, pianist, author, former director of the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory, and former dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Jim Doser, director of the Institute for Music Leadership at the Eastman School of Music

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.

When's the last time you gave someone a standing ovation? We have a little debate over when to stand, and when to stay seated. The critics say that we stand too often, and that has removed the meaning of standing ovations. It's the adult version of "everyone gets a trophy." Or is it?

Our guests:

Bus driving guitarist looks back on career with many turns

Apr 30, 2018

Guitarist Lawrence Johnson recorded the complete works of early-nineteenth century composer Fernando Sor – using equipment that the guitarist got in a trade for a Volkswagen.  He recalls, "I found out this guy and this girl, they were married – and he decided he didn’t like her anymore and he left her and took her car. But he was also a recording nut, and so he had this Revox 77.  So I said: I got a car if you want it, but I need that Revox 77. So, I got it." 

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