When live music performances came to a halt because of COVID-19, musicians found themselves without an outlet for their art. WXXI has strong ties to the arts and culture scene in the Rochester area and frequently broadcasts live performances from our studios and from local concert halls and other venues. Without the ability for audiences to gather, the station worked with local musicians to find an alternative way to enjoy music and keep live performance an important part of our cultural life.

For the virtual series, HomeStage, we approached musicians from a variety of genres. Members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, along with musicians from the jazz, pop, rock, and metal scenes have worked with us to create online performances that can be enjoyed on-demand.

The musicians recorded themselves at home performing a song, using cell phones or tablets and consumer grade microphones, with directions for best quality provided by WXXI. The introductory video and the music video were then edited together by a WXXI producer and posted on the HomeStage page of the WXXI website. Segments are posted every Friday and promoted on air and on social media.

HomeStage works to extend the range and reach of stories and performances and find new ways for them to be shared and experienced. For example, WXXI Classical is broadcasting concerts by the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester. HomeStage audiences had the chance to meet the artists in more casual, intimate performances. WXXI TV connected a rebroadcast of a historic baseball game in Rochester with a HomeStage performance by the ballpark’s long-time organist.

As each segment was published, HomeStage’s social media posts were shared by the artists and their followers, which helped widen the reach and WXXI’s audience for this virtual performance series. We now have artists asking us if they can do a HomeStage performance. This demonstrates how important the HomeStage platform has become during the COVID-19 pandemic.