Every year, retired WXXI classical announcer Mordecai Lipshutz closes out the XRIJF with The Bob Sneider Trio. He usually sings a number at the end of a long jam session, around 2:00 a.m. I missed him again this year. Thank goodness for reporter Anna Reguero and Youtube.
On a recent Monday morning I walked into the studio of Rochester's classical music station cradling a stack of CDs in one arm and a sheaf of news reports in the other. The news was not good. The sky threatened rain. I slipped a CD into the player and started a Haydn symphony, a cheerful burst of minty freshness. I followed that with Vivaldi's chirpy Goldfinch Concerto, a flashy set of trills inspired by the song of the European goldfinch, (a mouse of a bird that's not even gold, by the way.)
The music was sunny. But as the minutes ticked by, my mood darkened. It DID start to rain. More depressing stories poured into the newsroom.
At one point I actually thought to myself, “What annoying person picked all of this chirrupy music for a dismal Monday morning?”
I got an email this week with the subject heading "jass" and this website linked in the body. This email came from a reputable source, so I knew the link would be at least entertaining, and probably informative.
If you go to a lot of free concerts in Rochester, you start seeing the same people. There's one guy who looks troubled, even when he dances. His moves are akin to Tai Chi, slow motion poses only occasionally synching up with the rhythm, but he is feelin’ it. The last time I saw him was at the Lilac Festival last year. Some ditz came running down the hill with a camera. She squatted right next to him and started clicking away. After each shot, she’d look back up at her friends and laugh. This went on for several minutes. Eventually I spoke up. “He’s not wildlife, you know.” She scowled at me and retreated and you could hear more laughter up the hill as they reviewed the photos. Tai Chi Guy seemed oblivious.
A major new TV production company is setting up shop in Rochester. Backers include Peter and Bobby Farrelly (brothers who wrote and directed the film, "There's Something About Mary") and former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly. All three have joined with CGI Communications to cull compelling content from Youtube and various internet sources for broadcast.
With such weird, interesting material as this out there, how can they fail to live long and prosper?
OK, so we all know how cool the MET Opera at the movies is. And that Sabres game they played outside in the snow was super-sweet. The San Francisco Opera jumped on these two ideas, and decided to simulcast opera performances in the Giants' baseball stadium. This all got me thinking about other ways we could supersize classical music...
With the retirement of Simon Pontin from the Sunshine Show and Salmagundy, we at Classical 91.5 are for the first time in over 30 years having to look at what program content to choose to enhance our classical music service and maintain, and hopefully grow, our audience for the future. As hard as it has been for listeners - and staff - to say goodbye to a dear friend, this is a new era for Classical 91.5 and an opportunity to make our service even stronger for listeners of today - and tomorrow.
"I'd abolish all music competitions. People should be judged on their merits, not against other people. And I'd like to dispel the myth that high art is snobbish – it just needs a bit of effort on both sides." With sentiment like that, this diva clearly has her feet firmly rooted on the ground.
I love this time of year. The trees have covered their spindly limbs just as we’re all starting to reveal our own. I went to a park in Penfield on that 80-degree day last week, wandered up the creek to where the trail ends and stood there on a log, shirt and shoes in hand, listening to the water, watching the little seed tufts float through the air. I wasn’t there more than 30 seconds when a heron soared over the tree line. It drifted down silently and then pulled up to land on a high dead branch right above me.