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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Psalms and Canticles by Michael Torke, featuring Lydia Adelle Brown

Brandon Nance

It was just another CD package. Then we opened it and found ourselves looking at a photo of Rochester vocalist and songwriter Lydia Adelle Brown, who once interned at WXXI Classical.

Composer Michael Torke’s newest CD, Psalms and Canticles, is a collection of songs both wonderous and eye-opening. Producer Silas Brown, who had recorded Lydia at SUNY Purchase, reached out to her and suggested she send a demo for an upcoming project. The connection clicked. Says Torke, “Lydia was perfect for this project—a fresh voice that combines jazz and opera, resonating with a unique emotional involvement.”

The eleven tracks float, with a rhythmic pulse that carries you from the first note to the last. Lydia is particularly drawn to Canticle 2, While I Slept, a piece that she says, “Really touched me, is really profound,” recalling hearing it for the first time while walking in the rain. Like the world around her that day, she said, “it was so refreshing and inspiring.” And, as she sang the Second Lamentation, Mother’s Arms, she found herself remembering George Floyd as he called for his mother with his last breath.

“Some music really can inspire and uplift,” say Torke. “I like the possibility that music doesn’t just make you FEEL something, it can make you feel BETTER.” And Psalms and Canticles does that perfectly.

A bonus: The cover was shot by Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra trumpeter Wes Nance’s son, Brandon.

Michael Torke - First Canticle, Come Away ft. Lydia Brown

A Strong Memorial baby and Greece Arcadia grad, Julia Figueras was the Music Director and mid-day host for WXXI Classical until June 30, 2023 when she retired after more than 26 years of service. She also hosted the award-winning monthly interview/performance show, Backstage Pass.