Classical 91.5

Brenda Tremblay

Classical Morning Host and Producer

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   (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.

photo by Brenda Tremblay

Some classical music lovers are mourning the loss of a cultural icon. 

The Chautauqua Amphitheater is no more.

I confess that when I first heard about the demolition of the century-old Amphitheater, I felt dismay.

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Ginette DePreist in memory of James DePreist

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in D. C. this weekend.  Visitors will see a vest worn by Jimi Hendricks, an autographed photograph of Eubie Blake playing the piano, and this silk and velveteen ensemble worn by contralto Marian Anderson at her 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert. 


One day I walked into the doctor’s office and noticed the receptionist wearing an unusual necklace, a thick chain with a large, gold llama hanging at the end.   I complimented her llama.  Her eyes lit up behind glasses as she explained that she and her family raised llamas and showed them at the New York State Fair.  They had even won prizes, she said.  

I said, “That’s nice!  I know someone who runs an alpaca farm.” 

She shrugged dismissively and said, “I just don’t get the whole alpaca thing.”

Photo: Decca/Andrew Eccles

In this interview with the Huffington Post, Renée Fleming talks about life changes and the vitality of the art form she loves. 

“It’s critical that we have new operas,” she says. “Otherwise we become a museum.” 

She's singing in Toronto on September 21st.

Once in a blue moon I encounter a book that resonates so deeply with me that I immediately flip back to page one and start over.  That happened when I finished Run by Ann Patchett.  The first time I read for plot and the second time for language.  Months later, I’m still going back to re-read favorite passages. 

Run is about family, running, and secrets.

Eastman via Twitter

For the last two weeks on the WXXI-FM Mystery Piece, we’ve been counting down the Top Ten greatest symphonies ever written, according to a survey of 151 leading conductors by BBC Music magazine.  Here's the list:

The BBC Music Magazine top 10

Let’s call it a growth opportunity.  In 1971, only 1.4 percent of the orchestras registered in The Musicians Guide were led by women. Ten years later, that number was slightly higher; 4.3 percent of orchestras in the annual American Orchestra League Directory published by Symphony Magazine had women directors.  By 1988, the number was 56 out of 845.  That's still less than seven percent.   Today, that number is only marginally improved.

On this Primary Day, let's think about the influence of politicians on music.  This summer, President Obama made news when he released his personal playlist.  That’s no surprise.  American Presidents and their families have always influenced who and what we listen to.  George Washington loved to dance, especially the minuet.  Abe Lincoln said he couldn't live without music.  Teddy Roosevelt embraced jazz.  


There's a big, empty space in the heart of downtown Rochester.  How to fill it?   Among a thousand opinions are four concrete new proposals, officially submitted to the City of Rochester as of  last Friday.   One of them is for a new performing arts center.  The Rochester Broadway Theater League's plan calls for a 3,000 seat  performing arts center at the site.  Read more here.

Joyce DiDonato/Instagram

Fading light?  Falling leaves?   Cold winds?  Bring it!  If you’ve a mind of winter and indoor pleasures, here are five concerts to look forward to this fall.

September’s RPO season opener

Ward Stare will conduct a concert in Kodak Hall that’s as comforting as a soft, warm afghan. What’s not to love in Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony (one of Classical 91.5 FM listeners’ top ten favorites), a dashing overture by Ron Nelson, and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto?  Thursday September 15th and Saturday, September 17th.