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Grammy wrap

Rochester’s Ying Quartet was wise to skip the Grammy awards for a gig in Ohio. The group didn’t win in their category, Best Chamber Music Performance.

Here’s the scoop on Rochester’s classical/jazz nominees:

MARIA SCHNEIDER earned a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for Cerulean Skies from her new CD, Sky Blue. She beat Bela Fleck, Harry Connick, Jr. and Phillip Glass.

From Afar

On the day that Mitt Romney suspended his campaign to win the 2008 U.S. Presidential race, I sat down and listened to From Afar, a fantasy for guitar and orchestra by Joseph Schwantner. I’m starting to understand Schwantner’s musical language, and I’m beginning to like it, too.

State of bliss

A decade ago, when guitarist Sharon Isbin recorded the lullaby "Cancion de Cuna," by Cuban composer Leo Brower, she wrote that she was in a state of bliss, remembering her experience of "floating down the Napo River in a dugout canoe with piranhas, electric eels, and glistening crocodiles afoot."

This week, when she plays the same piece with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, she'll hear it in a whole new light. Read my concert preview in this week's City newspaper here:

http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/music/articles/CLASSIC...

Mr. Oboe

Am I the only person alive who thinks Chester Pitts (a.k.a. "Mr. Oboe") might have a happier life if he rejects the NFL and plays the oboe instead?

Yeah, I guess I probably am.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPLX_ckw0G4

The incredible shrinking schools

My high school alma mater may drop its Latin program next year. That’s not a huge deal to most people, I know, but if you think of it an indicator, it signals change in the rural school districts around Rochester: a significant drop in the population of young people in small towns.

There are fewer kids in rural schools. Batavia Daily News reporter Tom Rivers (and, in the name of full disclosure, my brother-in-law) describes the changes in a thorough report below, posted with his permission.

As you’ll see, Tom’s story focuses on sports and science programs and the effects smaller classes may have on what schools can offer. Schools such as Elba, Byron-Bergen, and Oakfield-Alabama might have to team up to offer certain classes and sports programs.

Make Me Care

That is a big part of my job -- making a connection between you and what's going on in the community around you.

It's particularly challenging for me at election time. Research, and my experience with Voice of the Voter, shows most people feel disconnected from politics, government, and community. My sense from the Voice of the Voter participants is a lot of folks have lost faith in ANY politician's ability to affect positive change within the "system." Even the "good" politicians don't stand a chance when they get into the legislative chambers. (If they can get there in the first place.)

But if enough people care, the "system" can't stop progress.

Oh, Mississippi

It's Super Tuesday. Ever media website imaginable has an abundance of election coverage stories, specials and live coverage and what article catches my eye on the MSN homepage? "Sorry You're Too Fat To Eat Here." What? Kudos to the person who wrote the article because as far as titles and tag lines go, you had me at hello. How could I not read this?

Leap Year Day

I've never given much thought to the extra day that gets tagged onto February every 4 years. Yeah, it's sort of exciting because it is different and for that one day you get to write a date is somewhat rare, but other than that it is exactly how I described it above- an extra day tagged onto the end of February.

Then my mom sent me a link (you have no idea how impressed I am that my mom even knows how to send a link) to a site named Leap Year Day and I had an epiphany: Leap Year Day must be quite the ordeal for someone that was born on February 29.

Cellist wonders what to do next

I discovered a blog kept by a cellist living in Houston, studying at Rice University. He's preparing to audition in Rochester for a spot with the RPO. He writes:

Who let the dogs out?

If you walk your dog in Toronto’s Jean Sibelius Square, take a leash.

As of January 1st, unleashed dogs were officially banned from the park named for the famous Scandinavian composer, Jean Sibelius. The centrally located park lies near Bathurst and Dupont streets.

Dogs’ rights aside, the park underscores the incredible popularity of Sibelius, who lived from 1865-1957. I can’t think of a composer alive today so universally revered. I’ve been reading about Jean Sibelius, and my appreciation for his music is moving beyond “Finlandia” worship. He loved nature, birds, and drinking. He was a homebody, full of self-doubt, despite his fame.