Rochester’s fivebyfive music ensemble to offer sensory-friendly performances

The Rochester-based music ensemble fivebyfive will partner this fall with the Strong National Museum of Play and the Rochester Public Library to perform a series of four short performances called “Playful Music.”

Three of the performances are sensory-friendly and designed for audiences with special sensory, developmental or physical needs.

“Sensory-friendly performances are an opportunity for everyone — especially people on the spectrum — to enjoy the fun and beauty of a musical event,” said AutismUp Family Navigator Mary Brzustowicz in a statement. “Expressive music helps people connect with emotions that might be difficult to communicate, and these concerts fill and soothe the senses while creating an unforgettable experience.”

Performances begin Nov. 6 and continue on Nov. 13 at different locations in Rochester.

Officials said the skateboard, bubbles, puppets, the super soaker and the blanket — all National Toy Hall of Fame inductees — provided inspiration for newly-commissioned music by composers Shannon Sea, Logan Rutledge, Olivia Kieffer and Emer Kinsella.

“I’ve always loved puppets. I was raised an only child and I often created fictional characters for my own entertainment,” Sea said. “I would often make puppets out of socks and shadows, so this invitation seemed only right.”

“We’re thrilled to be working with the talented fivebyfive musicians to bring playful music to our guests, inspired by the toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame,” said the Strong’s Director of Public Programs Cathy DeBellis. “Music itself can be a form of play, and we look forward to seeing how classics like puppets and bubbles come to life through notes and rhythms.”

Fivebyfive is an artist-led ensemble formed in 2015 with a mission to engage audiences in the collaborative spirit and creativity of today’s chamber music. The five instruments include flute, clarinet, electric guitar, bass and piano.

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Writers & Books receives $10,000 national award

Charter Communications Inc. has partnered with Ovation, America’s only arts network, to recognize outstanding local arts, cultural and educational organizations and programs in five of Charter’s Spectrum markets nationwide. Rochester’s Writers & Books on Tuesday received $10,000 as one of the five Stand for the Arts Award recipients.

Alison Meyers
Alison Meyers

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to receive this prestigious recognition from Charter and Ovation, especially meaningful in a year of unprecedented challenges,” said Writers & Books Executive Director Alison Meyers in a statement. “Ovation’s Stand for the Arts Award shines a light on the important role the arts in general, and the literary arts in particular, play in the life of a community. Our Writers & Books team will put this generous award to excellent use in the months ahead.”

The award will enable WAB to grow its mission to foster and promote reading and writing as lifelong activities for people of all ages and backgrounds.

“Even in this challenging time, Writers & Books is doing meaningful work, showing how access to the arts and arts education can bring diverse communities together and enrich the lives of their residents,” said Camille Joseph, group vice president, government affairs at Charter. “Charter is pleased to extend this partnership with Ovation for a fifth consecutive year and support the creative work of these arts organizations as part of our commitment to invest and improve the communities we serve.”

Stand for the Arts Awards are granted based on how well an organization empowers the community, builds strategic partnerships, drives engagement through volunteerism and delivers creative programming.

“Rochester is a city that is at its best when artists have the opportunity to thrive,” said state Sen. Jeremy Cooney, D-Greece. “Through this award from Charter and Ovation young people will have the chance to explore reading and writing and nurture their artistic minds. As a School of the Arts graduate I know the value of experiencing artistic creativity, no matter your chosen path as an adult.”

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Literacy Rochester pilots technology program

Literacy Rochester has received funding to launch a new pilot program that will help cross the digital divide.

“Getting Technology in the Hands of Those in Need” will provide Chromebooks, tablets and internet service to participants in the organization’s instructional and digital literacy programs. Participants will receive a Chromebook or tablet in addition to internet service for three to six months.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much uncertainty and wondering what is next for each of us. With so many parts of everyday life on hold and in flux, the challenges of literacy did not get put on hold and our students still needed to work towards achieving their goals,” said Joshua Stapf, development director for Literacy Rochester. “We, at Literacy Rochester, took our traditional hands-on face-to-face tutoring, classes and computer help and redesigned it to work in a social distancing world.”

The program is being made possible through Literacy Rochester’s partnership with Spectrum and the Office of Adult and Career Education Service (OACES) at Rochester City School District, which provided funding for the purchase of the materials and Wi-Fi hotspots for adult learners to take advantage of the virtual classes online.

“Equipping our residents with the tools they need to be digitally literate is essential to making sure that every citizen can fully function in today’s high tech society,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren in a statement. “I want to thank Literacy Rochester and their partners for creating this new pilot program that will supply technology to those in need, and for their ongoing commitment to help more people in the Rochester community connect to the ever-expanding virtual world we live in.”

Through the loan program participants receiving the technology can continue on their pathway to success in a time when access to computers are limited due to libraries and community centers being closed, officials said. The hotspots and tablets also will provide internet access for everyone in the participant’s household.

“Charter is proud to lend support towards Literacy Rochester and the launch of their pilot adult online learning tool,” said Camille Joseph, global vice president of state government affairs for Charter Communications. “We continue to support broadband education, training and technology with grants to nonprofit organizations that are interested in providing the necessary tools and training to help communities excel in the digital age.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer