September 30, 2008

Where oh where does the RPO go? (+FREE concerts this week!)

Every year it seems I run into people that wonder where the RPO goes between our summer and winter seasons. Well, each orchestra has its own contract that specifies how many weeks of work per year there are. The “big” orchestras in the largest cities usually have a 52 week contract, with all their paid vacation time built into those 52 weeks. I think at some point in the history of the RPO, it might have been like that, but it hasn’t been like that with our orchestra in a long time. Unfortunately, due to various reasons, our contract has gone a little backwards, so that we have a number of weeks without work both before and after our summer season. People often wonder and ask where we go, what we do, etc. I guess the easy answer is anything and everything. :) People tend to think we're all on vacation, which is kind of true, except that we aren’t paid. So, many of us look for work elsewhere – anything from teaching locally, playing in various festivals around here or the country, or maybe even subbing or going on tour with another orchestra should the chance arise. Other than that, as my colleague Kathy said in her blog, we use the time to refresh after a long season. The RPO musicians have tons of interests outside of music – let me see if I can think of some of the more fun/interesting/unusual ones that people might not know about. We have(had) beer/wine makers, quilters, vintage automobile collectors/restorers, tri-athletes, instrument/bow makers, birders, hikers, shoe collectors, and a number of avid gardners, excellent cooks/bakers, and athletes. The list goes on and on! Since there’s not always time during our season to delve into our interests as much as we’d like, the layoff offers a little bit of opportunity to do so.

This year, among other things, I spent quite a bit of time outside taking care of a lot of yard work (lots of rain this year!) and projects around the house. I also got a chance to spend a little time visiting with family outside of Chicago. Since my family is kind of spread out across the US, I don’t get to see them that often, so I enjoy visiting when I am able. My two nephews have recently started learning how to play string instruments– violin and cello (see pics). So, as you can guess, part of my visit included helping to teach and practice with them. Calvin started playing cello a little over a year ago and Christian just started playing violin (less than a month now). He’s always wanted to play either the violin or the trombone???? Go figure. I, along with my sister, am glad that he made the right choice. No offense to you fine trombonists out there. J It was a lot of fun to work with them and I'm happy to say that Christian already plays a mean Twinkle Twinkle Little Star - and most importantly, with a good sound too! In exchange, they gave me a short lesson on Rock Band. :)

If you’re like me, it’s hard to transition from the warm, bright, long-lasting days of Summer, into the chillier and shorter days of Fall and Winter. This week, the forecast doesn’t look too good with cold temps and rain, rain, rain. If you’re looking for something to do this week (Thurs. and Sat.) that will help with the transition from outdoor to indoor activities, why not come out, sit back and enjoy one of our Around the Town concerts this week (you can find specifics of the free concerts at Not only will you be able to hear some great music, but the concerts are free, which should help take your mind off of all the bad economic news ….at least for one night! We go to different communities throughout the year and play these shorter, slightly less formal concerts to share our music with people that sometimes might not otherwise come to the Eastman Theater. There's always some sort of "theme" to each of these concerts, and there's often a time during the concert that's open for a short question/answer session with the audience, so think up some good questions in case you get the chance!! We're always happy to have a full audience and it's a great way to introduce your kids to music since the concerts are a little more kid-friendly. Hope you get a chance to stop by this week or at some other concerts this year!

September 26, 2008

new season

Hi Everyone!!! Next week brings the RPO musician family back together after a two month lay off. We are all anxious to get back to work for a variety of reasons! Lots has happened while we have been offline -- Births and family deaths, weddings and funerals,engagements, chamber music concerts, recitals, as well as gardening, house repair, sending children off to college for some families and off to kindergarten for others -all all grades in between!! Some of us got away on much needed vacations, and others enjoyed staying home for a change. After such a busy winter and summer season, it is good for us to take a break for some time to re-energize, get some new experiences that we can't take during the year and reconnect with family and friends. A musicians schedule is not always socially friendly!!
We are excited about the " new Eastman Theater" process and celebrate this year with great music to send off the old Theater. As a graduate of the Eastman School and as a member of a family of Eastman graduates(my mom and sister) I have spent many. many hours in the Theater - as a performer and listener. I appreciate its assets and celebrate the opportunity to improve the problems.
Our first week back has us doing concerts in the community - a mission we feel is a crucial part of any arts organization today -- taking art to the people. The concerts are filled with wonderfull music and we hope to see alot of you there -- til the next time -- kmk

September 25, 2008

And speaking of Ms. Josefowicz...

Leila Josefowicz has just been named as one of the 25 recipients of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “genius grants.” And the $500,000 Fellowship award has no strings attached, other than the ones staying firmly in place on the instrument that helped bring her this recognition. Wow. Blog me away.

RPO Bassist Really Delivers!

RPO bassist Gaelen McCormick shared with us the story of her summer break:

"I spent the better part of the summer preparing for the birth of my first child, Clara Elizabeth Hanlon, who was due August 3rd. I also supervised the demolition and remodel of my kitchen, but had to sit on the sidelines rather than swinging the sledgehammer (my favorite part!). And I prepared the nursery, did the usual baby registry fun, and had the pleasure of going to two baby showers – in my hometown and here in Rochester.

"Baby Clara came a week late on August 9th, and was born quickly at Highland Hospital – we were only there for about 3 hours! I had stopped playing bass by mid-June because of the size of my tummy, and it was a great feeling to pick up the instrument again once my daughter was about 5 days old. She seems to enjoy just hanging out next to me while I practice and regain my strength and coordination, gearing up my hands for the RPO season."

… Which begins next week with the first orKIDStra family concert, and then Opening Weekend with pianist AndrĂ© Watts on October 10 & 11. Click here to view the full concert calendar.

September 17, 2008

Talent plus….?

This week, the League of American Orchestras quoted an article from America's well-known “men’s magazine” showcasing 10 rising female stars in the classical music world. Not only are these artists real talents, but, according to the magazine, they also seem to meet a certain standard of beauty.

Turns out that three of the 10 are connected to us: 30-year old violinist Leila Josefowicz, who performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the RPO on January 29 and 31; 28-year old soprano Danielle DiNiese, who sang Messiah with us last year (and blew everyone away with her masterclass at Penfield High School); and, until last year, our own principal oboist Ariana Ghez, now principal with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Hollywood demands attractiveness in exchange for success and does Ghez ever deliver. She plays a mean oboe, too, and at 28 she’s one of the youngest leaders in a major orchestra. Ghez shot up the ranks after earning a dual degree in English and music from Columbia and Juilliard, playing with the Rochester Philharmonic before landing her big gig in the land of sun.”

Okay, okay, don’t kill the messenger…I have my own thoughts about this article. Isn’t the magazine just using the guise of breaking the stereotype of “nerdy” classical musicians to put forth their own agenda, which is using physical attractiveness to sell magazines? Must we/should we be measuring the “hotness” level of performers? Are “classical” musicians being judged on the same lowest common denominator of physical appearance? How does artistry compete with an artist’s appearance -- think the Ahn Trio.

Does “classical” mean that they be viewed differently than, say pop, country, rock or jazz artists? With all the gender discussion this election season, has the pressure of needing to be “hot” extended to men in the public eye? So is it true that “Hollywood demands attractiveness in exchange for success?” GRRR.

Blog me away.

September 10, 2008

What's your favorite Eastman memory?

A couple of weeks ago, as I was sitting in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium, I spent more time reminiscing about all of the times I had gone there... all of those memories... than actually watching the game. I knew it would be my last visit to the 'old' Yankee Stadium. While I was a bit emotional about it... I just had to turn to my left, where the new stadium sits, and get excited about what's to come.

My thoughts then turned to the Eastman Theatre. This is the RPO's last season in the 'old' Eastman. Next year, we're going to have a remarkable new Eastman Theatre.

There are so many memories woven within the Eastman.

When I think of my favorites I consider two moments in time. Of course, I remember my high school graduation... my mother arrived with a camera, a videocamera... and no film for either instrument. So, there are no pictures!

My favorite RPO/Eastman memory actually comes from this past season. When Yo-Yo Ma came out for an encore performance of the Appalachia Waltz after he performed with the RPO. It was as if the world around me disappeared. Any worries I had about anything went away. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It was such a happy experience, it's actually hard to even describe it.

We know you have those memories too. You can send them in to us at

We're going to create a page on our RPO web site dedicated to your photos and your memories. We're also going to have some displays in the Eastman lobby where, at performances, you can post pictures and write down your thoughts.

Let's pay tribute to our past, with much excitement for the future...

P.S. - if you want to keep up-to-date on the renovation news, click here to check in.