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

Singing to Power

Jan 31, 2018
Leonardo da Vinci

“Don’t be born a woman if you want to have your own way.”  - Nannina de’ Medici

For some 15th century wealthy women, performing was a political duty.

Bernard Herrmann: The Man Who Wrote So Much

Jan 25, 2018

He captured love, loss, and all the things that go bump in the night. But who is the man behind the music of America’s favorite classic films?

Glenn McClure

We’re following the adventures of composer Glenn McClure, who journeyed to Antarctica in late 2016. During an epic journey funded by the National Science Foundation, the SUNY Geneseo and Eastman professor lived in a tent on an ice shelf and worked with scientists to collect data. He is now using that data as inspiration for new music.

Take a listen:

The composer writes:

Marsha Rivers

A memory:

I'm walking out of the school cafeteria - fifth or sixth grade - sunlight streams through the windows, the air heavy is with the smell of goulash and green beans from that day's lunch. My dad (who was the junior high band director) and the elementary music school teacher, Mr. Grammatico, stop me in the hall. My dad is holding an empty glass coke bottle.

“What’s this note?” my dad asks me.  He blows across the top of the coke bottle and produced a low hoot.

“A-flat,” I say automatically.

I don’t always think to mention it. I’m so used to it, that in most situations I pretty much forget about it, until someone asks me if I’m nervous or wonders if they’re making me uncomfortable.

“Oh no, I’m not worried. My hands just shake! It’s called Essential Tremor.”

It’s something I’ve had as long as I can remember – at least since third grade, when I went to a neurologist. I remember three things about that visit:

At this point in the winter, 19 degrees would probably feel like a heat wave - but that temperature still felt plenty cold the day that I gave winter biking a try with filmmakers Alex Weiser and Ander Kazmerski, for Rochester Street Films, a project by Reconnect Rochester.
 

You can see the results in a short movie here: 

The Telegraph

A conductor, a soprano, and a (still) empty plot of land. 

2017 unfolded with the good, the bad, and the ugly -- in behavior that rocked the arts world, media, politics, and academics.  

Here are five stories that made arts headlines in Rochester and beyond.

Carmen on Ice!

Dec 21, 2017

In case this wondrous and magical bit of art has somehow escaped your notice I felt it was important to take some time to share this with you: Carmen on Ice.

This TV movie made in 1990 follows the story of the opera Carmen and uses Georges Bizet's beloved music. Carmen on Ice stars some of the leading figure skaters of the time: Katarina Witt, Brian Boitano, and Brian Orser.  The skaters don't sing their roles, but they do still convey the drama, passion, and wit of the story and the interactions of the characters through their performances. Despite the ridiculousness of the whole idea, it's pretty captivating. 

Rosewood and Marimba Futures

Dec 15, 2017

Classical musicians have long been wary of traveling abroad with instruments made from rare materials – especially rosewood, a “tonewood” used in many instruments including cellos, clarinets, and guitars. The trade of rosewood has long been regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but new regulations passed in 2016 have tightened restrictions even more, requiring extensive permits and examinations when traveling with instruments containing rosewood.

Read more about the reasons for these regulations here.

Most musical instruments contain less than 20 pounds of regulated rosewood, but this is still enough to worry traveling musicians, whose instruments might be confiscated to ensure that their rosewood tuning pegs were not obtained through illegal means. The musicians hit the hardest by these regulations: marimbists.

Photo by: Pavel Vaan & Leonid Semenyuk

Dmitri Hvorostovsky was an amazing opera singer.  He had such a voice and dramatic stage presence, and he was charming, handsome, and distinctive.

I am just one of many who count him among my favorites and mourn his passing. I’m struggling to write anything of substance to explain how intensely I love his performances, and the tears that I’m shedding at the death of someone I didn’t actually know in person – just admired so very much.  

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