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 wxxi.org.   (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 and Madrigalia.

Classical 91.5 listeners are noticing something different. 

They're not hearing the Writers Almanac, the Composers Datebook, the usual announcements about underwriters, Exploring Music, or concerts by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  

Here's the explanation: the computer system (called "ENCO") that stores those announcements crashed, and we're enjoying the elegant simplicty of your favorite on-air hosts and music. 

Just music.

provided

"When I started walking Porter, we went down to Mount Hope Cemetery where there were a lot of hills and great places to visit. It's at that point that I met a whole bunch of other dog people . . . Now, I think of all the connections, all the groups I'm playing in now all just because of walking a dog!"

Joyce DiDonato. Photo: Simon Pauly

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has a theory about the present state of classical music culture in New York City.  It's back to the future. 

In his words, leading institutions are choosing repertoire that reflect "the eternal return to the world that was." 

Adrian Mann

Piano builder Adrian Mann has created a piano with 20-foot strings.  It's been installed in southern New Zealand where the creator hopes keyboardists will test its possibilities.

“You’ve got a huge soundboard, it moves a massive amount of air, and you’ve got that extra bit of grunt behind it. The keys are almost a metre long. There were huge engineering challenges to overcome. When it was first built the sound was quite raw, but it’s now much more refined and tuned and well-regulated.”

John Armato/Courtesy of the artist

Opera singer Charity Tillemann-Dick received a double lung transplant in 2009.  She's written a memoir, Encore, about the experience.

"When I woke up from the surgery, I saw the nurses and my mother, and I was just so profoundly grateful to be alive and I opened my mouth to say "thank you" and nothing came out. My voice was gone."

Hear more in this NPR interview with Scott Simon.

Keystone-France/Getty Images

Your friends at WXXI are planning next year's Classical 91.5 Presents film screenings at the Little Theatre.

If you have a suggestion of a movie featuring a classical soundtrack, please zap it to  classical@wxxi.org or make a comment below.

A few months ago, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea for the series -- a mini Stravinsky film festival!

Brenda Tremblay

Soprano Kristin Jarvis was born into a musical family, but her passion for singing derailed when she was eleven years old.

"No matter how miserable I was, I was so grateful that I was able to see for as long as I could because there are some people who are born never being able to see anything.  I'm grateful I had those eleven years.  When I got back into music I think it really helped me finish recovering from all that had happened."

"It's not about me when I'm singing whether it's a solo or in a choir. It's about the music.  I'm just the vessel.  I'm just the one, you know, sending this message out."

Courtesy of SUNY College at Brockport Foundation

On National Poetry Day, let's remember a strange legacy from twentieth century American poet E.E. Cummings. Through a bizarre set of circumstances, an important collection of paintings by Cummings now live in a tiny gallery in a small Upstate New York canal town. 

Are you surprised that Cummings was a painter?  Indeed.  In fact, he thought his artwork was better than his poetry.  For the story (albeit dated) behind the paintings, click here.

Video image from Variety.com

You may be troubled by images of athletes and musicians in silent protest. 

Two singers knelt after singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at separate NFL games on Sunday.  Even many non-football fans are transfixed by the public debate over free speech in sports arenas.  (If you've missed the controversy, catch up here.)

When words fail

Sep 25, 2017
Brenda Tremblay

A music critic wrestles with the limitations of lexicon.

"Music, especially purely instrumental music, resists being described in language. It’s very hard to convey sounds through words. Perhaps that’s what we most love about music: that it’s beyond description, deeper than words."

Anthony Tommasini is The New York Times’s classical music critic. Read his essay here.

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