Glenn's 10

The (585) region's top musical picks for May and June
Mj13 Willie Nelson
All images used with permission
Country-western superstar Willie Nelson is a highliner at this year's Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Our region is overflowing with so many top-notch local musicians, cultural treasures, and touring performers. Choosing just ten during May and June is tough job. Here is the best of upcoming classical music, touring bands, dance music and a taste of our vibrant ethnic communities. These events are listed in chronological order. Enjoy this two-month romp through our shamelessly rich musical scene.

NOTE: The web article corrects the date for the performance of Pink Martini at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

1. Going for Baroque
Memorial Art Gallery,
Sundays at 1 and 3 p.m. from May 5–Aug 25

Enjoy a twenty-five-minute presentation and mini-recital on the Italian Baroque organ. This is an exquisite treat to a sound few cities can brag about. The concert is free with gallery admission.

2. Live from Hochstein, Fredonia Piano Quartet
Hochstein Performance Hall
50 North Plymouth Ave.
Wednesday, May 8 at 12:10 p.m.
(broadcast on WXXI Classical 91.5, 90.3, and streaming online at wxxi.org)

Ever attended a live radio broadcast? WXXI offers us this unique treat. Come enjoy marvelous lunchtime chamber music with the Fredonia Piano Quartet and WXXI Radio.

3. James McCartney
Lovin’ Cup, 300 Park Point Dr.,
Rochester (Henrietta)
Tuesday, May 14 at 8 p.m.

James is the only son of legendary songwriter and former Beatle Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda—and he brings a fresh new spirit to his father’s legacy.

4. Past, Present, Future
Rochester City Ballet
Nazareth College Arts Center,
Callahan Theater
May 17–18 at 7:30 p.m.; May 19 at 2 p.m.

For more than twenty-five years, Rochester has enjoyed a wide variety of classical and modern ballet from our local company.  This show will include music by the Cello Divas, LumaVoce’ with Stephen Kennedy, and 4Play with Tim Leverett and will premiere a new work by guest choreographer Bill Evans. This evening of contemporary ballet concludes with one of the classics of nineteenth century American ballet, George Balanchine’s Serenade, set to the powerful music of Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky.  This is a show for both seasoned ballet fans and the curious newcomer.

5. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring
Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Tito Muñoz, guest conductor
Eastman Theater
Thursday, May 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 1 at 8 p.m. (rpo.org)

The Rite of Spring was so radical, that its 1913 premiere in Paris led to a riot. While we shouldn’t expect such an incident in Rochester, you should come and see how Stravinsky changed ballet forever. Also on the program, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Leonardo Colafelice performing on piano, and Barbara Kolb’s All in Good Time.

6. Rochester Greek Festival
Thursday–Sunday, May 30-31, June 1-2

On any day of the festival, you will never be far from the aroma of Mediterranean spices and traditional music and dance. Rochester is filled with a rich palette of ethnic communities, and the Greeks really know how to put on a great show. Come and explore all that our Greek neighbors offer our city.

7. Of Heaven and Earth
Madrigalia, with the Cordancia Chamber Orchestra
Eastman Theatre, Kilbourn Hall, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester
Saturday, June 1

For more information, contact Dan McInerney at: info@madrigalia.org OR 585-230-2894.
Madrigalia is one of Rochester’s musical jewels. This chamber choir sings with precision and passion. Don’t miss their season finale concert featuring the Flos Campi of Vaughan-Williams and other works with the Cordancia Chamber Orchestra.

8. Pink Martini
Friday, June 21
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre,
60 Gibbs St., Rochester

This band’s mix of world music styles and clever songwriting is an amazing musical mind-twister. The ten to twelve musicians of Pink Martini perform in many languages and many styles. They’ve been described as the “United Nations house band circa. 1962.”

9. Willie Nelson
Rochester International Jazz Festival 2013
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre,
60 Gibbs St., Rochester
Saturday, June 22

While we might mix up the voices of other country singers, we can’t mistake Willie’s voice. There are few touring performers who can boast a career of more than fifty years. Willie also created an alternative path in the country music world with his “every man’s” voice and his activism for American farmers. His classic, simple singing and guitar work will ring through the Eastman Theatre. Don’t miss this chance to spend some time with a country music legend. (NOTE: This show is listed as sold out.)

10. BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet
Harro East Ballroom, 155 Chestnut St., Rochester Sunday, June 23

I round out my top ten with the best Cajun/Zydeco that can be found anywhere. This band makes you forget all your troubles by wrapping pure musical joy around you. These guys are the gold standard of Louisiana dance music. So grab some gumbo and get ready to be Cajun for a day!


Glenn McClure is an award-winning composer and arts integration consultant who is on the adjunct faculty at the Eastman School of Music and SUNY Geneseo. Learn more about Glenn’s work at his website.

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