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 and Madrigalia.

(Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

This article in the Chicago Tribune is not easy to read, but it underscores the healing power of music for former University of Rochester student Nicholas Kollias.   In December of 2015 he and another student was abducted, held, and tortured for several hours before being rescued by a Rochester police SWAT team.

You can hear Kollias play a waltz by Chopin on iTunes.

Brenda Tremblay

So the first musical I ever did was All You Really Need to Know You Learned in Kindergarten and that first day I walked in,  I’d never been in musical before.  I thought was going to be, you know, a little thing we perform for the parents.  Nope! Nope!  Not at all! I walked in and Mr. Tallman, everyone, there were tons of people, and he just gave us a note and everybody sang in, like, harmony, and I was just like, “WHOA! This is insane! This is what I want to do!


Tonight, Seattle musicians are making a bold statement by performing music from the seven countries singled out in the President's recent executive order.  The concert is sold out, but it will be streamed live at 7:30 pm Pacific Time here.

Library of Congress

"Frederick Douglass wasn’t just an abolitionist leader, author, and statesman – he was also a music lover. He wrote passionately about the importance of music in communities of enslaved people in his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass."    Read more about his legacy here.

Valentine by Sam and Nancy

Now and then, a piece of art floats into my mailbox. A sketch.  A handmade Valentine.   A quilt of songbirds.  A crow sculpted of twisted wires. 

Here's a sampling of artwork sent by the wonderful listeners of Classical 91.5 FM.

Friendships are fraying.  One or two words can ignite tempers.  Leonard Slatkin writes about an exchange with an audience member set off by his use of the term "alternative facts." 

"I have tried all my life to avoid combining music and politics. But perhaps the time has come to begin to speak out more forcefully. I know that the threatened elimination of the NEA as well as privatization of NPR are subjects on which I must voice my opinion."

Read more here.

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for United Nations

"A Syrian musician who was allowed to legally immigrate to the United States on account of his 'extraordinary' abilities, and who recently toured with cellist Yo-Yo Ma is wondering whether he can return to his Brooklyn home."  Read more here.

Can non-Christians appreciate Bach's St. Matthew Passion?

Sure, it’s a brilliant piece of music.   But can we understand it without sharing its creator's theology?

On a Good Friday, Sameer Rahim, a Muslim book editor, went to a London performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and offers a different point of view.

If you're going to the RPO performance this week, this will help.  Print it out and take it with you to Eastman Theatre.

Here's a link to a beautiful translation of Ravel's Shéhérazade.  

Bach's Holy Dread

Jan 2, 2017
Illustration by Matt Dorfman

Alex Ross takes a fresh look at scholarship and recent books about J.S. Bach, including Bach & God by Michael Marissen.   “All ask, in different ways, how we should approach works whose devotional intensity is alien to most modern listeners.  Marissen identifies himself as an agnostic, but adds that in the vicinity of Bach’s music he will never be a ‘comfortable agnostic.’”