Classical 91.5

Classical Blog

This is a place where our classical hosts, interns and artists can share their stories, viewpoints and point of view on topics related to classical music and the arts in general.  Come back to this page often to read the latest and share your comments.

Ways to Connect

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.

Bach-to-Bach Punning

Sep 21, 2016
Penny R. Frondelli

Blame it all on Jeffrey Biegel. He and several orchestras commissioned a new piano concerto from PDQ Bach...which got Jeffrey thinking.  There were already so many Bachs--JSB, CPE, WF, JC, JCF, to name a few.  How many other Bachs, he wondered, were out there? So Jeffrey asked us, the trusty world of classical announcers, if we knew of any.  And things got pretty silly.

Some of the suggestions:

alpacasofinstagram

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.”

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.

Sheet music cover: The Star Spangled Banner: National Song
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

It caught me off guard. I had forgotten that the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra plays "The Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the first concert of the season. I stood up and started to sing along. 

 

It caught me off guard. Part way through the anthem, I suddenly started to think of the protests by athlete Colin Kaepernick and others, sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, over issues of social injustice in our country.

 

It caught me off guard. As we were sitting down, in the brief pause between the end of the anthem and the beginning of the first piece on the concert, someone near me said:

There are many, many things to do at the Rochester Fringe Festival. It can be overwhelming, but I think the answer is to pick one or two (or five?) things, and just jump in.

I have found some wonders over the past few years:  Bach integrated beautifully with movement, wild musical hijinks with the Fourth Wall Ensemble, and DiaghilesqueBallet Russes classics combined (much to my initial shock) with burlesque. It took some getting over my embarrassment and nerves when I realized what was happening, but I’m glad I went: Diaghilesque turned out to be vulnerable, meaningful expression conveyed through dance, music, and storytelling. 

Look through the website or get the book and choose your own adventure. In case you're interested, here are a few of things that have caught my attention this year (and let me know if you have some favorites to share!):

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.   

Pack your bags.  Take a weekend to explore.  There are obscure and fascinating destinations for music history geeks sprinkled throughout New York State.  I’ve touched on some of these before, but here they are, laid out for your next road trip.

Stop 1: Saranac Lake, New York, a four and a half hour drive east of Rochester.

Pianist Jonathan Biss, seated with scarf
Benjamin Ealovega

Fall. Back to school. Even if you're not packing up your backpack and heading to class, it still feels like a time to start something.

Recently, I have been enjoying taking classes online through Coursera – some for practical reasons, and some just for fun. There are hundreds of courses on all sorts of different topics. Here are a few music-focused classes that caught my interest and you might also enjoy. If you have experience with any of these classes, or others to suggest, I hope you'll share your thoughts in the comments. 

WXXI's Brenda Tremblay caught a few moments with Rochester resident and American tenor Gregory Kunde, fresh from his winning “Best Male Singer” in the 2016 International Opera Awards in London.

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