November 24, 2008

This Thanksgiving - Enjoy Juliana’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe!

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, we have a recipe you’ll enjoy straight from the “RPO Cooks!” cookbook. RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde shared her recipes for a full Thanksgiving dinner – brined turkey with gravy, baked acorn squash, stuffing, spinach soufflĂ©, and to top it all off, her mom’s bourbon pumpkin pie.

The cookbook includes more than 200 recipes from RPO musicians, conductors, guest artists, Rochester Philharmonic League members, and RPO staff. Click here for more information and to order “RPO Cooks!”

Juliana’s Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. canned pumpkin puree
1 c. undiluted evaporated milk OR heavy cream
1/4 c. bourbon
1 9” pie shell in pie pan (store bought or homemade)

Preheat oven to 450°. Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add remaining ingredients, beating well after each addition. Pour into pie shell and bake at 450° for 10 minutes, then reduce to 325° and bake for another 45 minutes, or until the custard filling is firm. Serves 8.

November 14, 2008


I just came back from this morning's dress rehearsal for Wynonna Judd's concert tonight and Saturday with the RPO. Both she and the Orchestra sound great! She will be singing some timeless standards from the great American songbook as well as some of her greatest hits.

Joining Wynonna on stage is guitarist and singer Don Potter - an old friend of hers from back in the days touring and recording with The Judds. Don will be playing solo with the RPO on the first half of the concert.

Norma Holland of Channel 13 WHAM News interviewed Wynonna about the upcoming concert and she said that Don Potter "is like the father I never had - he's both musician, mentor, and spiritual guidance counselor." Hear more of Wynonna's interview by clicking here.

And to find out more about the concert Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm at the Eastman Theatre, click here.

November 11, 2008

It's All in the Preparation

There's an old joke, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? ... Practice, practice, practice." Last night five new Orchestra musicians displayed the results of their hard work in a wonderful mini-concert for the RPO volunteers. Hearing them perform in a more intimate setting than a concert hall, and solo and in duets instead of an ensemble, it got me to thinking about what it takes to get up and perform on stage.

Certainly, many hours of practicing until your fingers have the muscle memory to form the notes and you get the sound you're looking for. But there's also a certain amount of mental preparation, to stay focused and not get stage fright or lose your place in the music.

I also perform from time to time - not an orchestral instrument, but the traditional folk instrument called the mountain dulcimer, also known as Appalachian dulcimer or lap dulcimer. When I'm preparing for a performance, I will play a tune over and over, and also sing in the car to memorize the words to songs.

Right before a concert, I also think of something I learned from the Van Cliburn Award-winning pianist Alexander Kobrin. When he performed with the RPO a few years ago, I had the pleasure of driving him to WXXI for an interview with Julia Figueras. She asked him what he did right before he went on stage, and he said he just kept going over the music in his head. It helped him stay calm and focused. I've tried it - and it worked.

For you musicians out there - what you do right before playing a concert? I've heard of some musicians who have certain routines they follow beforehand, maybe like an athlete with a lucky pair of socks? Or maybe it's just taking a deep breath right before going on stage. I'd be interested to hear. Not that I'm going to Carnegie Hall anytime soon ... but I'll keep practicing.

Get Ready for The Nutcracker

This afternoon, members of the Rochester City Ballet and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra went to the Strong National Museum of Play to preview The Nutcracker.

The dancers read the story of The Nutcracker to the kids, and Clara demonstrated a few ballet moves, much to their delight.

Kids lined up to get autographs from the dancers and have their pictures taken.

Small groups of RPO string and brass musicians also played excerpts from The Nutcracker for the kids.

As a special offer for your sugarplums ... children's tickets to The Nutcracker are now on sale for 50% off. Six performances Thanksgiving weekend. Click here for more information.