News

2022 – A Year of Music Anniversaries in Rochester

By SCOTT GUDELL

(October 2022)

2022 is a year filled with Rochester, New York anniversaries – defined and shaped by music.  The Eastman School of Music, founded in 1921, has extended numerous celebratory 100th year presentations and events into 2022 for several reasons (included pandemic related challenges.)  Other organization have also adjusted how and when they celebrate.  Regardless, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1922 and their 100th anniversary in 2022.  The Rochester International Jazz Festival, founded in 2002, while the Rochester Music Hall of Fame (RMHF) is now ten years old.  So let’s take a look at new kid on the block, the RMHF.

After announcing a ‘charter class’ over a decade ago, the RMHF held its first induction ceremony in April of 2012 by honoring several people/places from the charter list and beyond.  Held at the Eastman Theatre in front of close to 2000 arts and entertainment patrons, the first class officially honored:

Cab Calloway – big band leader

Corinthian Hall – iconic venue

Gene Cornish – founding member of the Young Rascals

Doriot Anthony Dwyer – classical flautist

Joe English – Drummer with Paul McCartney plus the jazz / southern rock band Sea Level

Jenny Lind – an salute to a 19th century icon who performed in Rochester

Chuck Mangione – Jazz trumpet and flugelhorn player master

Charles Strouse – Broadway great

Jeff Tyzik – pops conductor and jazz artist

Wait !  Induct a building as well as someone who performed in Rochester once?!  The first slate of inductees gave notice that the RMHF was a creative organization willing to ‘color outside the lines’ and to be amazingly flexible.  The annual induction ceremony continues to be the flagship event and people have referred to it as a ‘mini-Grammy’s.’   Audio/video production is top notch and the ceremony is presented at the opulent Eastman Theatre.  Inductees are world class.  But one of the secret weapons of the RMHF are the equally world class ‘special guests’ who journey to Rochester to help support the event.  Visiting guests have included David Clayton Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears,) Naomi Judd (The Judds,) Paul Simon and many others.    

To date, there have been over fifty official inductions with those ‘special guests’ adding even more energy to the evening’s drama and excitement.  Here’s just a couple of inductees from each year:

2013 = Lou Gramm and Son House

2014 = House of Guitars and WDKX

2015 = Ron Carter and William Warfield

2016 = Wendy O Williams and Howard Hanson

2017 = Joe Beard and Gary Lewis

2018 = Steve Gadd and Tony Levin

2019 = Al Jardine Christine Lavin

2020 / 2021 = ceremony put on hold

2022 = Eastman School of Music and Roy McCurdy

Rochester has long been a city rich with dynamic clubs and venues, eclectic radio stations, home to music authors and music schools, world class performers and much more.  It offers the Nominating Committee a deep well of potential and deserving inductees to choose from.  When board members are asked if the RMHF might run out of inductees, it’s pointed out that the original list from over a decade ago (performers, venues, photographers, producers etc.) has several hundred names on its original roster of potential nominees.  Also, incredibly talented new candidates are being added to the list all the time.  As additional proof of the HOFs evolution, the RMHF offers annual scholarships for students, has presented several series including ‘Singer/Songwriter’ and ‘Books Backstage,’ instituted a ‘Special Merit Award,’ opened a brick-and-mortar venue directly across the street from the Eastman School plus – new for 2022 – the RMHF officially partnered with a vibrant festival in Fairport, the Steel Rail Revival Festival.  

As a non-profit organization, the RMHF is dedicated to ‘connecting the dots’ of the music community in Western New York and beyond.   In addition, the reach of the RMHF has gone global with articles posted on international web sites such as AllAboutJazz.com, visits from A-List authors and performers from major cities visiting and more.  The Rochester Music Hall of Fame – recognizing the past and building on that foundation for the future.