Classical 91.5

Musicians of Rochester

Musicians of Rochester serves as a portrait of musical life in and around the greater Rochester, New York region. Inspired by Humans of New York, Classical 91.5 intern Bridget Kinneary started Musicians of Rochester early in 2015 as part of her Eastman Arts Leadership Internship program. This portrait continues to grow each month as interns and staff meet and share stories and insights from Musicians of Rochester. We invite you to visit this page often to meet new musicians and find out more about the music scene in Rochester.

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.

provided photo

On occasion, Dr. Octavio Vázquez of Nazareth College has asked his students, "What are you doing here?  Run for your lives!  There’s no future in this business!”

He’s joking, of course.

“Being a composer, it’s a little bit like falling in love," he says.  "It’s the most irrational choice you can make, going into classical music or composition as a career choice.  But the best things in life are irrational.”

Michael DuPre

You'll want to spend time with this dear man.    He was an army medic during World War II in the Battle of the Bulge, and he's not just a wonderful storyteller.  He's moved thousands of people with his small, simple instrument of choice, the harmonica. 

Pete DuPre’ has been playing the harmonica since he was a child.  He's now 94.  He continues to tell his stories and to make the harmonica sing in churches, nursing homes, schools, at memorials, and for celebrations of all kinds.  

Brenda Tremblay

Jeanne Gray is a force of nature.

She glows with enthusiasm for lifelong music-making.

“When you’ve got senior citizens who are back doing level one solos and enjoying it, why not?”

Born on October 9, 1926 in Endicott, New York, this great-grandmother has witnessed and shaped music programs across New York State through decades of teaching in Corning, New York and in Webster Central Schools until her so-called "retirement" in 1962. 

provided

"When I started walking Porter, we went down to Mount Hope Cemetery where there were a lot of hills and great places to visit. It's at that point that I met a whole bunch of other dog people . . . Now, I think of all the connections, all the groups I'm playing in now all just because of walking a dog!"

Brenda Tremblay

Soprano Kristin Jarvis was born into a musical family, but her passion for singing derailed when she was eleven years old.

"No matter how miserable I was, I was so grateful that I was able to see for as long as I could because there are some people who are born never being able to see anything.  I'm grateful I had those eleven years.  When I got back into music I think it really helped me finish recovering from all that had happened."

"It's not about me when I'm singing whether it's a solo or in a choir. It's about the music.  I'm just the vessel.  I'm just the one, you know, sending this message out."

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. 

Bryant Keicher

Pianist Henry Kearse has a simple mission – and an easy way to measure if he is succeeding at it.

I wish to make everyone happier, if I can, with something I can play. If I come up with a song out of the blue that means nothing to anyone, then I’ll play it once and then I’ll go on to another song.  I want audience satisfaction. That’s proven by the tip cup, silly as it sounds – if the tips are good, you’ve been a success, if they’re not there – well go home and study some more.

 

Pianist and composer David Costello wants you to relax.

His most recent album “XVII” is a series of unnamed instrumental piano pieces – not exactly classical music, but something drawing on different styles he has played. 

Pages