WXXI Classical 91.5 collaborates with The Little Theatre, a local independent movie theater, to host a series of four films annually, called Classical 91.5 Presents. Each of these films has a connection to classical music in the story line, the film score or as a profile of a classical musician. For each event, we partner with the Empire Film and Media Ensemble to provide live, film-related musical performances in the Little Theatre’s Cafe prior to the screening, and the films are followed by a live panel discussion. Every film is promoted on air, on social media, in our e-newsletter and on our website, as well as The Little’s website, social media and screen ads at the theatre.
The panel discussions have covered topics including music and mental health, arts in society, art and cultural history, Alzheimer’s and aging, as well as other topics suggested by the films. These discussions have engaged audiences with speakers from many partner organizations such as the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media, the Center for Youth, The Mental Health Association, Garth Fagan Dance, One Take Documentaries, the Opera Guild of Rochester, several local universities, record stores, local performing groups as well as many different cultural and ethnic groups.
In the fall, Classical 91.5 hosts submit their recommendations for the films to screen and potential dates for the coming year. The theatre works to obtain those films on the proposed dates. Over the past four years, audiences have grown, giving current and potential listeners the opportunity to meet and engage with the hosts, and to think more deeply about the role that great music plays in their lives. The films also generate revenue for The Little Theatre, and brings new audiences to the venue.
Some of the films that have been screened by Classical 91.5 Presents include Florence Foster Jenkins, The Pianist, West Side Story, Breaking Away, The Competition, Itzhak, and Pavarotti. A number of the films were sold out, and a second screening was added. A complete list of films is available online at https://www.classical915.org/topic/classical-915-presents.
Please note that WXXI and The Little Theatre have been in a formal partnership since 2012. The affiliation allows The Little to work more efficiently by pooling resources in several areas including back-office operation, fundraising and promotion. The Little Theatre began in Rochester in 1928 as a not-for-profit organization to provide an alternative to the large commercial movie houses of the day. While not every public radio station has its own venue, this effort can be duplicated in schools, churches or local movie theaters.