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.

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.

Bill Tiberio's work as a musician and a teacher has an impact throughout the Rochester community. You can hear him playing saxophone with his band, or see him  conducting the Music Educators Wind Ensemble and Music Educators Big Band based at the Eastman Community Music School, and most of all, know that he has inspired generations of music students as a teacher at Fairport High School for more than 30 years.

Teacher Mark Phinney taps into a child's world of play using the Orff Schulwerk Method at John James Audubon School 33 in Rochester, New York.    His students range from kindergarten age to sixth grade, and he says he loves working with them.

The Orff Schulwerk Method is vastly different from the way Mark learned to make music.

"We were basically in the 'sit and get.'  We sat and we were told, and that's what we did.   Here, you come in and you DO.  It's constant activity, music-making, and prepping to make the music. The kids take over!"



A Rochester-based composer who teaches at Nazareth College is headed to the Winnipeg New Music Festival this week.  Octavio Vazquez will serve as a guest composer, attending rehearsals, panel discussions, and concerts along such classical music luminaries as Philip Glass. 

Getting to this high point in Vazquez’s career has not been an easy path.  He grew up in the 1970s in Galicia, northwestern Spain, at the end of the rule of the long-reigning dictator, Francisco Franco.

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. 


"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."