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Musicians of Rochester serves as a portrait of musical life in and around the greater Rochester, New York region.

Musicians of Rochester: Teryle Watson


Meet Teryle ("TARE-ril") Watson, a teacher, conductor, and performer who inspires students with her passion and humor.  

Born in Brooklyn, New York, she came to Rochester in 1967 to attend the Eastman School of Music.  Her journey has taken her from the Julliard School in New York to the Royal College of Music in London and back to Rochester where, in 1975, she embarked on a thirty one year career as a music teacher with the Rochester City School District.

"I really love Rochester. I love the simplicity. I love the sense of neighborhood. I love the fact that it's common to speak to people on the street even if you don't know them."

In this podcast you'll hear stories about her work as a cellist, singer, pianist and teacher.  You'll find out why students at the School of the Arts came to love her as "Atilla the Nun."   (Many of her her students have gone on to thrive at schools and conservatories including the Eastman School of Music, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, SUNY Purchase, Crane, Indiana University, and the New England Conservatory of Music.)

She now teaches at The Kanack School.

You'll also hear Teryle Watson reflect on the crucial role of the Gateways Music Festival in her life. She has played cello in the Gateways Orchestra and served as chorus master and conductor in performances of the Lord Nelson Mass and the Finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Finally, you'll hear food for thought from an outstanding musician who was still a child when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

"The hopes and dreams of children have always been high. Other support systems not always so high. When I retired 12 years ago, often students were doing a pretty good job of raising themselves.   I had students who were working not so they could buy a fancy pair of sneakers but because they were paying the RG&E bill.   There's got to be parity. As long as there is institutionalized racism -- and that's what it is, institutionalized racism -- nothing changes. Nothing changes and everyone is the poorer for it because cultures are not being shared and celebrated and opportunities are not being shared. Until that happens, nothing moves."

Cellist, singer, conductor, pianist, and teacher -- Teryle Watson has inspired two generations of Rochester musicians. She tells stories and reflects on her career with WXXI's Brenda Tremblay.


Brenda Tremblay has served as weekday morning host on WXXI Classical since 2009.