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.

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.

The Democrat & Chronicle has laid off some news staff.

Among those laid off was arts writer and music critic Jeff Spevak.  Over a nearly thirty-year career, Spevak earned five first-place finishes for features writing  for the D & C from the New York State Associated Press.

Pianist and composer Orlando Diaz faces setbacks with resilience.  

"A big theme in my life is handling rejection like a boss because I applied to Julliard for a collaborative piano program for my Master's degree, and I got in! But I didn't respond to their e-mail on time, so they gave my spot to somebody else.  I had to decide whether I would wallow in my own filth for a year or come up with something that would make that year even better than if I had gone to the city."

How did he thrive?  Listen to a long interview with him below.

"I'm just always typecast as funny 'cause I happen to be kind of a funny person."

Nazareth College senior Alma Haddock has a problem. With a brassy voice that's been compared to Ethel Merman's, "I never get to do dramatic roles or sing dramatic songs" she says.

To show another side of her musical talent, she's creating a cabaret show. 

Laura Strickling

Soprano Laura Strickling and her family have been rescued from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.  Now in Puerto Rico, she and her husband and one year-old baby Elizabeth are waiting to fly to Chicago.  A Facebook community of musical mothers is collecting donations to shower Laura and her family with supplies, including a new stroller to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Irma. 

Strickling won First Prize and the Audience Favorite Award in the 2015 Rochester Oratorio Society's Classical Idol Competition.

Laura Strickling and family are okay.  But she says just thinking about the potential impact of Hurricane Jose turns her stomach.   The First Prize winner in Rochester's 2015 Classical Idol Competition, Strickling lives in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, with her husband, a lawyer, and one year-old daughter.  She has asked her story be shared in order to keep a spotlight on the suffering in her community. 

Early Saturday morning, September 9th, she described her current situation on social media:

"Day 2, After #HurricaneIrma

Pulitzer-prize winning composer George Walker has written ten sonatas, two string quartets, and challenging concertos for piano, violin, cello, and trombone.   Last year he finished a new sinfonia.   What makes Walker’s latest creation so rare is that when he finished it, he was 94 years old.  Read Frank Oteri's profile here.

This should be a big year for Amy Beach.  September 5th is the composer's 150th birth anniversary.  But aside from a few commemorative dates and this major event in Rochester, NY, not much else appears to be happening to mark her achievements.

“My work has always been judged from the beginning by work as such, not according to sex,” she insisted. “The question has rarely ever been raised.”

Pages