September 22, 2017

Meet David Bruestle, new principal trombone

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, David Bruestle joined the RPO in May 2017 as principal trombone (The Austin E. Hildebrandt Chair), after serving as acting principal trombone since October 2016. Prior to joining the RPO, Bruestle served as second trombone with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and principal trombone with the Erie Philharmonic. Bruestle completed a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music in May 2015 under the tutelage of Mark Kellogg, his predecessor as principal trombone of the RPO. Bruestle also earned his bachelor’s degree at Eastman and a master’s from the Manhattan School of Music.

David Bruestle
Personal: My wife Katie is an Eastman School of Music graduate in horn performance currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Rochester. We have two cats, Harry and Gus.

What are you reading right now?
I recently received a book of letters from Edvard Grieg to his friends and colleagues. I find it interesting to learn about the connections between composers and other important figures of their time through their correspondence.

How would you describe yourself?
  • Organized and tidy: I have been told I have an eye for detail.
  •  Proactive and efficient: You know the saying, “never leave a room without something for another,” although sometimes you can only carry so much, especially when lugging around a trombone case.
  • Conscientious and diplomatic: I try not to ruffle many feathers.
When and why did you choose your instrument?
My parents initially aspired to be music teachers and they had a collection of different instruments. My siblings and I took piano lessons from an early age and when we started in a school with a band program, each of us picked up another instrument. The summer before starting sixth grade, I examined my parents’ collection of instruments and pulled out an old silver trombone. I have always thought I might turn that instrument into a side table or lamp someday!

What advice would you give to young musicians?
No journey to an orchestral career is the same. Keep driving ahead. Take every opportunity you can
and be prepared to excel in each one. You never know which connection or experience along the way
will create the next opportunity for you to advance.

Favorite piece you are looking forward to playing this season at the RPO?
I guess as a trombonist I have to pick Ravel’s Boléro for the big solo, but I am also looking forward to Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite since it will be a first for me and it has a couple of exciting passages for the trombone section.

Look for David onstage this fall, and read more about him on! 

September 21, 2017

Meet Cory Palmer, new principal bass

Cory Palmer
c Nadine Photography
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Cory Palmer joins the RPO this season as principal bass (The Anne Hayden McQuay Chair). Prior to joining the RPO, he was principal bass of the Canton Symphony Orchestra from 2012−16. He also has held positions with the Sarasota Opera and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. While growing up in Atlanta, Palmer was a member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and studied with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Principal Bassist Ralph Jones. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Michigan State University, master’s degrees from John Hopkins University and Manhattan School of Music, and attended a performance residency program at Carnegie Mellon University.

Personal: My wife’s name is Kate. We got married last November in Nashville, Tennessee. We have one dog that we think is a Chihuahua/terrier mix. Her name is Ryder and she is about 12 years old.

When and why did you choose your instrument?

I chose the bass in fifth grade when my class went to visit the middle school and we saw the orchestra, band, and chorus perform. The bass player played the Jaws theme and I was hooked. I started playing bass the next year!

What app can’t you live without?
Spotify, Facebook, and Candy Crush. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Candy Crush—I
delete it when it starts taking up too much of my time.

What fascinates you besides music?
Food. I love cooking and going out to great restaurants. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hole in the wall or a
super fancy restaurant. If it has delicious food, I’ll be there. I’m especially partial to a good brunch.

Favorite piece you are looking forward to playing this season at the RPO?

This is a very tough question so I’m going to cheat and pick three.
  • Don Juan from our season opener because this was the first piece on the first concert I played when I started college at Michigan State University and it’s the first piece on the first concert I’m playing with the RPO.
  • Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 because this is a huge piece for orchestra auditions and I somehow haven’t performed it before this season.
  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9—it’s just an incredible piece.
What advice would you give to young musicians?
  •  Take advantage of all the resources out there these days. There are so many great resources online for finding local concerts, listening to great performances, connecting with fellow musicians, finding sheet music, and so much more. Expose yourself to as much as you can.
  • Record yourself regularly. It’s important to know what you sound like.
  • Perform regularly. Play for anybody that will listen whether it’s a teacher, colleague, family member, or total stranger. 
Look for Cory onstage this fall, and read more about him on! 

May 30, 2017

Billboard chart-topper to perform with RPO

Internationally acclaimed American pianist Simone Dinnerstein brings her talents to Hochstein Performance Hall this Sunday, June 4 to close out the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sunday Matinee series.
Simone Dinnerstein

Dinnerstein recently reached No. 2 on the Billboard Classical Chart for her new album Mozart in Havana, but she first rose to prominence with her self-funded recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, another Billboard chart topper released in 2007. Described as an “utterly distinctive voice in the forest of Bach interpretation” by the New York Times, Dinnerstein will play two of the great composer’s lesser known piano concerti with the RPO: Keyboard Concerto No. 1 in D Minor and Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F Minor. Although she appreciates all of the Bach keyboard concerti, she considers these two to be his most profound.

She singled out the slow, second movement of the F Minor concerto as one of the most beautiful things she’s ever heard. “Playing it is the closest I get to singing,” she said. She describes a singing-like quality, too, in the D Minor concerto, which she explains is the result of its origins as part of a cantata Bach wrote for an organ accompanied by a choir. While it’s “much weightier,” than the concerto in F Minor, she notes the interactive and intimate feel both works convey. That intimacy will be ideal for performance at Hochstein, a much smaller venue than the cavernous Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, where the RPO plays the majority of its concerts.

Apart from her first performance with the RPO, Dinnerstein has a lot going on in 2017. Mozart in Havana was recorded in Cuba with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra and features Mozart’s Piano Concerto Nos. 21 and 23. This summer, the HLO will travel to the United States to tour with Dinnerstein up and down the East Coast. It will be the first time an orchestra from Cuba has toured the U.S. since the Cuban Revolution. Also this year, Dinnerstein will debut a new piano concerto written for her by Philip Glass and co-commissioned by twelve orchestras around the country. She will also collaborate with choreographer Pam Tanowitz on New Work for Goldberg Variations, a piece for piano and six dancers. The collaboration translates the rhythms and structures of Bach’s Goldberg Variations into movement, and will debut at Duke University in the fall of 2017.

If you go
Bach & Stravinsky
Sunday, June 4 at 2 PM
Hochstein Performance Hall
Tickets $27 available at or by calling 454-2100

Written by Mary Rice, RPO marketing assistant

Hear Simone Dinnertein perform the two Bach concerti and other works by Bach in this playlist from her 2011 album Bach: A Strange Beauty recorded with the Staatskapelle Berlin.

May 24, 2017

Bohème behind-the-scenes: a chorus perspective

The following essay was written by Brenda Tremblay, morning host on Classical 91.5* and 90.3 FM, streaming at Tremblay will perform in the RPO's production of La Bohème with Madrigalia Chorus. We asked her to write about her experience preparing for the concerts!

Brenda Tremblay (far right) backstage at rehearsal

Rehearsal at La Bohème
"Rain glistens on new leaves. The scent of lilacs fills the air. Dogs bark. My neighbors think I’m weird. And who could blame them? For weeks, they’ve seen me prowling the tree-lined streets, muttering like a madwoman -clutching a book, chanting, and singing fragments of songs. They don’t know I’ve been preparing for this week’s semi-staged production of La Bohème.

"La Bohème is Giocomo Puccini’s four act opera based on a book about the lives of poor bohemians in 1840’s Paris. Arturo Toscanini conducted the world premiere in Turin in 1896, and though the first audience left puzzled, the story and its sensuous music soon enraptured listeners all over the world.

"It is one of the most-performed operas in history. Why? First, the music is gorgeous. Second, the themes are universal. We respond to a simple story of people falling in and out of love. We see that the smallest objects – a hat, a key, a candle - can glow with meaning, especially in the face of death. We know that chance encounters shape our lives.

"With my friends in Madrigalia, I’m in the chorus in the Latin Quarter scene, appearing in Act II as a generic Parisian woman and then in Act III as a tired milk-woman trudging to work with an invisible donkey. I don’t actually speak Italian, so committing about twenty minutes of music in that language to memory pushed me to invent a system of pattern recognition using emojis. My score is puckered and coffee-stained.
Brenda Tremblay explains Act II scene
via emoji on Twitter

"What’s it like onstage? It’s a completely immersive experience, like diving into a deep, warm pool. The music swirls to the back of the hall. Have you seen the documentary film 20 Feet from Stardom? It popped into my head last night when I was literally standing two feet from soprano Jacqueline Echols as she sang “Musetta’s Waltz” with full-throated glory. My real-life teenage son Gavin is a street sweeper in the chorus, and when we’re onstage together I’m buzzed with delight that we’ll share this experience. But I have to concentrate.

"I concentrate on everything our excellent chorus master Cary Ratcliff has taught us: breathe early, lift the soft palate, purse lips, sing without vibrato to produce a pure, rich unified sound free of operatic warbling. I try to remember all these things. I try not to trip. I try to remember where I am.

"Snow sparkles on the streets of Paris. The smells of butter and cinnamon and toasted almonds fill the marketplace. See the heaps of oranges and hot-roasted chestnuts? Is your mouth watering? Here comes a noisy crowd in a cacophony of joy and chaos. They have very little money but an unquenchable zest for life. Their kids are squirrely. And who can blame them?

It’s Christmas Eve in Paris!"

*The RPO’s semi-staged La Boheme is scheduled to air on WXXI-FM on July 3 and October 2 at 8 p.m. 

If you go
Puccini's La Bohème in Concert
Thursday, May 25 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 27 at 8 PM
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Tickets start at $23