Classical 91.5

Julia Figueras

Music Director and Midday host

A Strong Memorial baby and Greece Arcadia grad, Julia Figueras is the Music Director and mid-day host for WXXI-FM. She is also the producer and host for the award-winning monthly interview/performance show, Backstage Pass.

Figueras began her radio life in 1980 at WICN in Worcester, MA, and has been playing formats ranging from classical to rock to jazz, with a dash of talk in Boston, MA as well as at stations in Concord and Portsmouth, NH.  She received her bachelor's degree in theater, cum laude, from Brandeis University.

The mother of two daughters, she has a passion for the Boston Red Sox and New York Times crossword puzzles, loves Dvořák, Radiohead, Springsteen, and Brahms, and enjoys reading mysteries and histories. She is also a member of a trivia team that competes in weekly quizzes throughout Rochester. Currently, Figueras sits on the Board of Directors for the Penfield Symphony Orchestra with her husband, Peter Iglinski, and holds an honorary seat on the Amadeus Children's Chorale board. Previously, she spent 10 years on the Board of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Figueras also writes the WXXI Classical Music e-Newsletter. Sign up here!

Ways to Connect

Emily Birsan: Kristin Hoebermann Photography

Soprano Emily Birsan makes a triple debut this week with your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra: not only is it her first appearance with the RPO, it's also the first time she'll sing Berg's "Seven Early Songs" with an orchestra, and her first outing with Mahler's Symphony No. 4. She and RPO Music Director Ward Stare talked with WXXI Music Director Julia Figueras about these two works, and the heavenly spell they cast.

Brook Nance

Meet Casey Springstead: he's the longtime wind ensemble director at Irondequoit High School, the Music Director for the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra and, because his schedule isn't full enough already, a French hornist in the Penfield Symphony Orchestra. In September of 2017, he was given the Faculty Service Award at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance.

Kemp: Hochstein; Elliott: Eastman School of Music; Hwang: Genesee Symphony Orchestra; Bock: RPO

To celebrate Women's History Month, we dug into our Backstage Pass archives for the Cello Divas: 4 women, and 4 cellos. Ingrid Bock, Rosemary Elliot, Mimi Hwang, and Kathy Murphy Kemp joined Julia Figueras to chat about their unique quartet, how it came about, and where they looked to find music. This edition of Backstage Pass won a Bronze medal from the New York Festivals. Find out why the judges were so pleased on Friday, March 9 and Sunday, March 11.  Both airings are at 1 PM.

Ward Stare: Devon Cass/Misha Dichter: CJ Mulligan

Your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off its Leonard Bernstein Centennial celebrations this week with a work by Bernstein--Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety--and a piece Bernstein championed--Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9. Pianist Misha Dichter, who solos in Bernstein's work, joined RPO Music director Ward Stare to chat with WXXI-FM's Music Director Julia Figueras about the Legacy of Lenny, and the many gifts he gave us.

Wedding Wire

The highest honor a student at the Eastman School of Music can earn is the Performer's Certificate. So what is that, and how does one get it? On the next Backstage Pass, Julia Figueras introduces you to three recipients of this honor:  harpist Anna Dunlap, violinist Willa Finck, and cellist Brandon Xu. Also joining them will be Nicholas Goluses, the co-chair of the String Department.  It's all things stringed on Backstage Pass, Friday, February 23, with an encore on Sunday, February 25. Both shows are at 1 PM.

Barbara Allen:

This week with your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, it's all about dance...and the one piece on the program that isn't a ballet will be performed with the Rochester City Ballet! RPO Music Director Ward Stare, St. Louis Symphony Concertmaster David Halen and, appropriately, Barbara Allen, the Principle Harp for the American Ballet Theatre, all joined Julia Figueras to talk about playing for dancers, finding the perfect instrument, and the internal language of orchestras.

Empire Film music Ensemble

Let's go to the movies! On the next Backstage Pass, members of the Empire Film Music Ensemble come to our studios to share their love of movie soundtracks. The EMFE works collaboratively with other organizations, including the Rochester Institute of Technology, composer Jeff Beal, and even WXXI-FM, supplying pre-show music for our Classical 91.5 Presents... series. Host Julia Figueras supplies the popcorn.

Marcelo Lehninger, Music Director in Grand Rapids, has returned to guest conduct your Rochester Philharmonic. On  the table are two French works, and two Russian pieces, one of which--Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1--will feature Tchaikovsky Competition Gold Medalist Andrei Ionita. Marcelo and Andrei discussed the program with Julia Figueras, with musings about the genius of Shostakovich and why Andrei ultimately chose the cello over the piano.

Photo: Eastman School of Music

What happens when a musician goes deaf? Most simply retire. A few--Beethoven being the most famous case--carry on. Meet Gaelen McCormick. Gaelen began having hearing problems some years back, and was ultimately diagnosed with Bilateral Meniere's Disease. With fight or flight as her two options, Gaelen has chosen the former.

Michael Christie has returned to our fair city to conduct your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Mozart's final symphony, the Jupiter. As he began to plan the line-up, Mr. Christie had an idea: what if we presented the Vivaldi in the style of concerts of that era?  So this week, the RPO, Michael Christie, and Concertmaster/soloist Juliana Athayde will be giving you Vivaldi plus.  How will that play out?