December 22, 2010

Coming Soon - Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, with $10 kids’ matinee tickets!

Remember watching Bugs Bunny and friends on the Saturday morning cartoons? Well now imagine seeing these classic Looney Tunes cartoons on a big screen in the Eastman Theatre, with live music performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

You’ll have your chance to do just that, when Bugs Bunny at the Symphony comes to Kodak Hall on January 7 & 8, with two evening performances plus a special 2:00 pm Saturday orKIDStra Series matinee for families.

This sequel to Bugs Bunny on Broadway (which was here in 2007) includes Chuck Jones’ inspired What’s Opera, Doc? and The Rabbit of Seville, while adding in other Warner Bros. classics like Friz Freleng’s Rhapsody Rabbit, and the virtuoso orchestral roller coaster ride of the Road Runner epic Zoom and Bored.

Also new are special guest appearances of Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl, and other “guest stars” from the larger Warner Bros. animation family ... including The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo.

The Emmy-winning conductor and producer George Daugherty, who is also the show’s creator, will be in Rochester once again to conduct the return of our favorite “Wascally Wabbit.” Click here to read an interview with Daugherty about the show. Daugherty is no stranger to the Rochester, having made the professional guest-conducting debut of his entire career in 1979 with the RPO at the Eastman Theatre, at the age of 24.

Children’s tickets for this performance start at $10; tickets for the other two performances start at $15 and can be purchased by clicking here, or by calling the Box Office at 454-2100.

LOONEY TUNES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and
© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
THE FLINTSTONES, THE JETSONS, SCOOBY-DOO and all related characters
and elements are trademarks of and © Hanna-Barbera.
TOM AND JERRY and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and
© Turner Entertainment Co.

December 2, 2010

Hallelujah! Handel’s Glorious Messiah Returns to Kodak Hall

Next weekend, you can experience Handel's magnificent choral work telling the greatest story ever told. The "Hallelujah Chorus" so moved King George II that he sprang to his feet on hearing it, and audiences have continued to do so ever since.

Handel's Messiah "remains an absolute 'evergreen' for music lovers," says Christopher Seaman, "due to the power of the words and the extraordinary genius of Handel."

Seaman will conduct the RPO from the harpsichord with the 150-voice Rochester Oratorio Society and guest soloists Karen Clift, Krysty Swann, Ryan MacPherson, and Stephen Powell.

These will be the RPO’s first performances in the new Eastman Theatre complex. You’ll be able to walk out of the East End Garage and enter the new wing at the corner of Main and Swan Streets. Walk down the hall and you’ll find the new Eastman Theatre Box Office in the atrium, along with a new Theatre Shop. And you’ll be able to view the spectacular Chihuly chandelier!

The concerts are Thursday, December 9 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 11 at 8:00 pm. Eric Townell of the Oratorio Society will lead the Pre-Concert Chat one hour before each concert.

Click here to read the program notes for the concert. Use this link for more concert information.

November 23, 2010

The Magical Family Tradition of The Nutcracker Takes Center Stage!

This weekend, let yourself be transported by the captivating music and dance sharing the spotlight at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre for six performances of The Nutcracker, November 26-28 at 2:00 & 7:00 pm each day.
The classic tale of Clara and her magical Nutcracker is brought to life by talented dancers from the Rochester City Ballet, with guest artists from America's top ballet companies, 150 community children, and the Bach Children’s Chorus – with Tchaikovsky's wonderful music performed live by your RPO, conducted by Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair).

Children's tickets start at only $10! Get your kids ready for The Nutcracker by downloading coloring pages with images of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Mouse King.

Know someone performing in The Nutcracker? Use this link to view the full program notes and read more about the RCB dancers.

And before you start making your own Nutcracker memories … click here to read the Ballet’s blog with other stories of Nutcracker memories. Congratulations to the winner of the Ballet’s contest!
Call 454-2100 to order tickets by phone or click here to buy online.

November 12, 2010

Symphony Magazine Features Jeff Tyzik in Story on Pops Arranging

Jeff Tyzik with guitarist Sharon Isbin
(photo Gelfand-Piper)
Anyone who attends an RPO pops concert with Jeff Tyzik has experienced his creative brilliance and engaging rapport with the audience – but did you know that he is also an accomplished composer and arranger, writing more than 160 works for orchestra?

Jeff’s talent for arranging music for Pops concerts is featured in the November-December issue of Symphony Magazine. Click here to read the story online.

He talks about the challenges of arranging popular music for a symphony orchestra, which includes taking music that may have been created just in a recording studio, and turning it into a piece for live performance.

“You have to understand the acoustic balance between brass, strings, woodwinds, and percussion, and it’s even more crucial if you have a rhythm section,” Jeff says. “One snare drum can wipe out a whole string section.”

He also gives the orchestra music that is interesting to play, that challenges them to be as great as they are – which is not always the case in pops arrangements.

Your next chance to hear Jeff’s arranging genius is at the Gala Holiday Pops concerts on December 16-19 (use this link for concert info).

The concert includes Jeff’s version of The Little Drummer Boy, which is an inventive take-off on Ravel’s Bolero. You’ll also hear Jeff's variations on Deck the Halls, and his gospel version of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.

Little Drummer Boy and the Gospel Hallelujah are also on the RPO’s most recent holiday CD – which makes a wonderful holiday gift! Click here for details.

November 4, 2010

The Nutcracker Memories Contest!

In eager anticipation of the Nutcracker performances in just a few weeks, Rochester City Ballet is holding a contest looking for your memories of The Nutcracker. What makes The Nutcracker special to you and your family? When did you first see The Nutcracker? What role does The Nutcracker play in your holiday traditions?

To be entered in the contest, send your special Nutcracker memories by email to: The winner will receive four Box seat tickets to the Nutcracker on Saturday, November 27 at 7:00 pm and a private meet & greet with Rochester City Ballet company members directly after the show.

The winner will be selected by a panel of RCB judges on November 22. For more information about the contest, and to read the stories already posted on the RCB blog (including one from RCB company member Erik Johnson), visit

Use this link to find out more about The Nutcracker, with six performances, November 26-28. This magical tale is brought to life by Rochester City Ballet's talented dancers, with guest artists from America's top ballet companies, 150 community children, and the Bach Children’s Chorus—and Tchaikovsky's wonderful music performed live by your RPO. Children's tickets start at only $10!

And to get ready for The Nutcracker, come to Nutcracker Day at The Strong on Thursday, November 11 from 11:00am-3:00 pm. RCB dancers in Nutcracker costumes will read the story of The Nutcracker, and musicians from the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra will perform musical selections. Click here for more information.

October 29, 2010

Upcoming Concert Features Russian Pianist Andrey Pisarev, World Premiere, and RPO Musicians

Internationally acclaimed Russian pianist Andrey Pisarev returns to Rochester for a special concert featuring the music of Chopin and Beethoven on Sunday, November 7 at 7:30 pm at Performance Hall at Hochstein.

Pisarev will perform the world premiere of composer Marek Harris' arrangement of the Chopin Piano Concerto in E Minor for piano and string quintet. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Juillard, Harris was specially commissioned to arrange this beloved concerto as a piece of chamber music.

Pisarev will be joined by the Amenda Quartet – which features RPO musicians David Brickman (violin), Patricia Sunwoo (violin), and Melissa Matson (viola), and cellist Mimi Hwang – as well as RPO bassist Colin Corner. The concert also includes the Amenda Quartet performing two Beethoven string quartets.

Pisarev, who is a professor at the Moscow Conservatory of Music, has won top prizes at the Mozart, Pretoria, and Busoni International Competitions. Click here to view a video of Pisarev playing Chopin.

The concert is presented by the RPO with support from the RIT Performing Artists Concert Series. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Click here for more concert information.

Andrey Pisarev will also perform a solo recital of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, Schubert’s Four Impromptus, and selections by Liszt on Friday, November 5 at 8:00 pm at RIT’s Ingle Auditorium. Use this link for more information about that concert.

October 20, 2010

Juliana Athayde Takes Center Stage in Expressive Russian Violin Concerto

The RPO’s celebrated Concertmaster Juliana Athayde performs Glazunov’s expressive Violin Concerto as part of an evening of Russian masterworks on Thursday, October 21 and Saturday, October 23 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

With the RPO since 2005, Juliana has had numerous solo appearances covering a wide range of composers from Mozart and Brahms to Prokofiev as well as last season’s world premiere of Allen Shawn's violin concerto, which was written for her. The oldest of four musical siblings born to musician parents, Juliana is also accomplished as a jazz soloist, performing Jeff Tyzik’s Jazz Suite for Juliana with the RPO in 2006. Click here to learn more about Juliana (including her favorite flavor of ice cream and what’s on her iPod).

For this weekend’s concerts, Christopher Seaman also leads the RPO in Stravinsky’s evocative Pétrouchka, the tragic-comic story of the pathetic clown puppet we know as Punch. And the program includes Sibelius’ Suite from Karelia—some of you may recognize Christopher’s signature tune from WXXI’s "Concert Companion" broadcasts several years ago.

Christopher Seaman hosts the Pre-Concert Chat beginning one hour before the performance. Use this link to read the program notes.

Tickets start at $15. Click here for more information.

October 13, 2010

Green Eggs & Ham Highlight of Musical Menu at Family Concert

You can satisfy your appetite for great music at the next orKIDStra family concert this Sunday, October 17 at 2:00 pm at Performance Hall at Hochstein.

Conductor Michael Butterman has planned the concert like a restaurant menu. The featured main dish is Green Eggs and Ham, a "merry, whiz-bang romp" (The Star-Ledger) through Dr. Seuss’ touching and funny tale that seamlessly incorporates sophisticated references to familiar classical and popular music with a timeless parable about prejudice.

Composer Rob Kapilow—who wrote the Polar Express setting that the RPO performed at Christmas a few seasons ago—provides the musical accompaniment to this tug-of-war between a child named Sam-I-Am and a character called the Grouch. Vera Mariner and Sarah Rosati – a junior at East Palmyra Christian School and a member of the Bach Children’s Chorus – are the featured soloists.

Michael says of the concert, “We open with a brief ‘taste’ of something to whet the appetite, followed by something a bit calming (like a consommé), moving on to something crisp and refreshing, followed by the entrée, and a little sweet trifle for dessert. So, while Green Eggs and Ham is definitely our entree, we'll also hear music by Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and Offenbach (his famous Can-Can is our dessert).”

The concert is designed for families with children ages 3 and up, and tickets start at $10. Click here for more information.

Dr. Seuss properties TM & © 1960 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All Rights Reserved.

September 29, 2010

Celebrate 88 Keys & 88 Years at Red Carpet Spectacular!

photo by Julia Kracke Photography
We’re rolling out the red carpet for the RPO’s 88th Season!

Get ready for an extraordinary evening as Jeff Tyzik ushers in the Pops season with the RPO’s annual Red Carpet Spectacular followed by The Music of Ray Charles concert in Kodak Hall. This gala event takes place on Friday, October 8 beginning at 5:30 pm.

The evening starts with a tour of the brand new Betty’s Café and the newly enhanced Ranlet Lounge, followed by the Wegmans Culinary Extravaganza in Cominsky Promenade at Eastman Theatre. Enjoy an array of hors d’oeuvres, an entree introducing a new Wegmans product, a sushi station, and desserts, with wines courtesy of Constellation Brands.

Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. – Ray Charles’ eldest son who has written a new book sharing reflections on life with his father – will make an appearance and give a pre-concert talk at 7:00 pm.

Then, trumpeter Herb Smith and other RPO musicians will led a New Orleans-style street parade down the red carpet and into Kodak Hall, joined by patrons and dignitaries, for the 8:00 pm concert.

Singer and keyboardist Ellis Hall – former lead singer with Tower of Power – has performed his Ray Charles tribute show with orchestras from the Kennedy Center to the Hollywood Bowl. You’ll hear some of your favorite Ray Charles classics, including "Georgia on My Mind," "Hit the Road, Jack," "Unchain My Heart," and "I Can’t Stop Loving You." He will be joined onstage by three female back-up singers. Use this link for a video clip of Ellis Hall singing "Georgia on My Mind."

This special event includes valet parking and a gift bag as well. Festive attire suggested. Reserve your tickets now by calling 454-2100. Click here for more information on the Red Carpet Spectacular.

(Note: The Music of Ray Charles concert repeats on Saturday, October 9 at 8:00 pm. For concert tickets and more information, click here.)

September 14, 2010

Music of Ray Charles Opens Pops Season

Jeff Tyzik opens the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Pops season on October 8 and 9 with a tribute to the Music of Ray Charles, featuring vocalist and pianist Ellis Hall. You’ll hear some of your favorite Ray Charles classics, including “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit the Road, Jack,” “Unchain My Heart,” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Use this link or click on the image below for a video clip of Ellis Hall singing "Georgia on My Mind."

Former lead singer and keyboard player with Tower of Power, Ellis Hall has performed his Ray Charles tribute show with orchestras from the Kennedy Center to the Hollywood Bowl. Click here to read about Hall’s first meeting with Ray Charles.

Use this link or click on the image below to see video of Ellis Hall with Jamie Foxx on the set of Ray.

We’ll also have a special guest for the concerts – Ray Charles’ eldest son Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. will join the RPO for pre-concert readings of his new book You Don't Know Me, which shares reflections on life with his father. Click here for more info about his book. Books will be available for purchase at the concerts and Ray will do signings as well.

Tickets start at $15. Call 454-2100, or use this link to buy tickets online. Click here for more information about the concert.

September 3, 2010

RPO Season Opens with Tchaik 4

Christopher Seaman opens the RPO’s 2010-11 Season - his final season as the RPO's Music Director – on September 30 with Tchaikovsky’s triumphant Fourth Symphony. Affectionately known in the orchestral world as "Tchaik 4,” this piece has always been one of Christopher’s favorites. (Tchaikovsky himself once said it was his best).

But the work has a special significance for Christopher because it was on the program for his trial concert for the job of Principal Timpanist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. (Not surprisingly, he got the job! Click here to read more in an interview with Christopher.)

Tchaikovsky began writing this symphony during a particularly tumultuous time in his life, including a disastrous marriage and a nervous breakdown. However after escaping to France, Italy, and Austria, he finally finished it. He wrote to the wealthy patron who was financing his musical compositions to say, “If you find no pleasure in yourself, look about you. Go to the people. See how they can enjoy life and give themselves up entirely to festivity. There still is happiness, simple, naive happiness. Rejoice in the happiness of others – and you can still live.”

The upcoming concerts on Thursday, September 30 and Saturday, October 2 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre also feature Russian pianist Ilya Itin. A graduate of the Moscow Conservatory who won top honors at numerous competitions, he joins the Orchestra for Liszt’s First Piano Concerto - powerful, dramatic, and romantic. Click here to view a video clip of Ilya Itin.

The program also includes Elgar’s Cockaigne, a colorful work that portrays the sights and sounds of London.

Christopher Seaman hosts the Pre-Concert Chat beginning one hour before the concert. Click here to read the program notes.

Tickets start at $15. Call 454-2100, or use this link to buy tickets online.

August 26, 2010

Christopher Seaman Talks About the RPO's 2010-11 Season

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2010-11 Season promises to be one for the history books, as we celebrate our Maestro, Christopher Seaman, in his final season as the RPO's Music Director.

We caught up with Christopher - who has been "Down Under" this summer, conducting and teaching in Australia -  to find out more about the upcoming Philharmonics and Symphony 101 Series concerts.

This year’s Philharmonics Series features some of your favorite pieces. Can you tell us about a few that have particular meaning for you, as you look back over your career?

Well, our opening concert features Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, affectionately known in the orchestral world as "Tchaik 4." This has always been one of my big favorites (Tchaikovsky himself once said it was his best), but the work gained a special significance for me because it was on the program for my trial concert for the job of Principal Timpanist of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I was 22, very inexperienced, and felt a bit shaky at the rehearsal. But when the concert came I decided that as it would be the only time I would ever play with a great orchestra, I should enjoy myself, which I did. The next morning the General Manager called me and offered me the job, so I ended up spending four years with that wonderful orchestra during which I learned an enormous amount and played with some very great conductors, including Munch, Solti, Haitink, Boult, and Svetlanov.

We’ll be doing Vaughan Williams’ "London" Symphony, which I played with the renowned conductor Sir Adrian Boult, who knew Vaughan Williams. After I conducted the piece for a broadcast on the BBC, I had a letter from him saying I had got it "right." I also conducted it for a guest appearance with the Rochester Philharmonic in March 1997, and as a result was later asked to be the RPO’s Music Director. Many of the Orchestra members associate that piece with me, and particularly wanted me to do it.

And our closing Philharmonics concert features Brahms’ Second Symphony, which got me my first conducting job, four years after the London Phil, as assistant conductor for the BBC Scottish Symphony in Glasgow.

We have several guest artists returning for the occasion – including Olga Kern and Jon Nakamatsu, with whom you also have recorded. Can you share some stories about what it was like working with them?

I first met Olga Kern on stage the week we recorded the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto with her, back in 2003, and we very quickly developed a close musical relationship. I’m glad to have her coming back this season. Jon Nakamatsu has a long relationship with the RPO, since Al Davis first saw Jon perform during the Van Cliburn competition in 1997 and encouraged us to bring him to Rochester. For years now, we’ve been playing the piano that was donated in Jon’s honor, and so of course we wanted him on this season.

Several of the Orchestra musicians are featured on concerts this year. Can you tell us more about the pieces they will be performing?

It is always a big event when Juliana Athayde, our Concertmaster, appears as soloist with the Orchestra. Over the past few years she has had major triumphs with a whole range of concertos (including a world premiere last season). This season she plays the Glazunov Violin Concerto, a work which will show her brilliance, expressive power, and virtuosity to the full.

Stefan Reuss, our principal cellist, joined the RPO in 1988, and is well known in Rochester not only for his fine work with the orchestra but also for his very active participation in chamber music. Stefan's cello is a beautiful Guadagnini made in 1798, and on it he will play the much-loved first concerto by Saint-Saens.

Our Principal Clarinetist Kenny Grant will be joining us next May for Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, but he will be playing it on the basset clarinet, reaching a third lower than the usual clarinet. Mozart originally wrote this concerto for this instrument, so Kenny will be able to play it as Mozart intended, without having to transpose any notes. I conducted the first UK performance of this concerto on basset clarinet, with Alan Hacker—one of the clarinetists credited with the revival of the instrument—back in 1968.

What can patrons look forward to in the Symphony 101 and 201 concerts this season?

This year’s Symphony 101 concerts will feature music by some of the greatest composers, pieces that mark milestones in the history of music. For the first concert, in addition to playing music by Handel, Gluck, and Mozart, we will be playing something by Antonio Salieri. Many know Salieri as Mozart’s rival in the film Amadeus, and we will get to see how their music compares. One of the concerts will feature some of my own musical milestones, including works by Bach, Wagner, and Vaughan Williams. And our expanded Symphony 201 concert in Kodak Hall will go in-depth on Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.

What is one of your funniest or oddest RPO concert memories ...

So little has gone wrong. But there was one time, during a Symphony 101 concert, when there was a power outage and all the lights went out. I asked the audience, "Would you wave one hand in the air?" They did, and right after that the lights came back on and I said, "Confucius said, ‘Many hands make light work’."

What is your favorite restaurant in town?

There are so many and probably one or two I haven’t discovered yet—but Thali is a very nice Indian restaurant, and One is very good. I also like Virtu and Richardson’s Canal House. And I have been going to the Highland Park Diner ever since I started coming to Rochester and they all know me there.

Use this link for more information on the RPO 2010-11 Philharmonics Series.

Click here for more information on the Symphony 101 Series.

Tickets go on sale Monday, August 30 at 10:00 am! For just that one day only, there is a special ticket price of $20.10 for select Thursday Philharmonic performances in honor of Christopher Seaman’s final season as music director. Click here to buy online.

You can also become a season ticket holder now and save up to 20% off regular prices, plus have additional benefits such as the no-hassle ticket exchange and Subscriber Standby. For more information on subscribing, click here, or call 454-2100.

August 18, 2010

Q&A with Michael Butterman on the 2010-2011 Season

This coming season, Michael Butterman, the RPO's Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair), leads engaging family concerts that tell a complete and compelling musical story. We had a chance to talk with Michael to find out more about the upcoming season.

Next year’s orKIDStra Family Series continues the theme of music that has a story. Please tell us more about those concerts.

We open with Green Eggs and Ham—the great story in which a child teaches an adult about prejudice—in a wonderful musical setting for soprano and child actor by Robert Kapilow, the composer who wrote the Polar Express setting that we performed at Christmas a few seasons ago.

A Family for Baby Grand is a terrific story that introduces the instruments of the orchestra to young children. The composer, Brad Ross, is the brother of our principal timpanist, Chip Ross.

For our Fairy Tales concert, we'll hear some of the great music for concert, opera, and ballet that has been inspired by classic fairy tales and learn how composers can tell stories or paint pictures with the music they write.

Peter vs. The Wolf, which closes our season, is a wonderful dramatic twist on Prokofiev's well-loved children's classic. In this version, we hear the story unfold in retrospect through a courtroom drama in which the wolf attempts to prove his innocence to the jury. It's the same great music as always, but with some added humor that will delight both children and their parents.

What will you be doing for the Around the Town concerts next season?

In the fall, we'll be featuring the winner of the Rochester Philharmonic League's Young Artist Competition for 2010. The young flutist will be joining us to play one of the staples of the flute repertoire: a work by Griffes entitled Poem. We'll partner that with another work by the same composer (who grew up in Elmira, NY) called The White Peacock and fill out the program with famous works about other exotic people, places, and things.

This year you’re conducting one of the Symphony 101 concerts – what do you have planned?

This season, the Symphony 101 series is exploring "Musical Milestones"—pieces that changed the course of music history or represented important achievements by significant composers. My concert focuses on the 19th Century and the Romantic Era. We'll begin with Beethoven, who was a pivotal force in the transition from the Classical period to early Romanticism. From there, we'll look at program music—music that tells a story—from Berlioz and Liszt. We'll talk about Wagner's unique aesthetic approach and then end with Debussy and the beginnings of impressionism, as well as the transition to the eclecticism of the 20th century that he helped usher in.

What is one of your funniest or oddest RPO concert (or rehearsal) memories ...

It's a moment that was funny mostly because of how much funnier it could potentially have been. The celeste plays an important role in Tchaikovsky's orchestration of The Nutcracker, especially during the famous "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." Because of space limitations in the pit, we typically use a synthesizer instead of an actual celeste. The type that we used a few years ago had one of those wheels that could be rotated to scroll through the various sounds from which to choose. Well, during the intermission, someone must have bumped up against it, because when it came time for the Sugar Plum Fairy to dance to the little tinkling-bell sound of the celeste, we heard instead the twangy sound of a harpsichord. Everybody in the pit immediately glanced over at Joe (keyboard player Joe Werner), who seemed as surprised as anyone at the sounds that were emanating from his keyboard. The incident became much funnier in retrospect as we imagined how much worse it could have been. Instead of a harpsichord sound, the wheel could have landed on something like dogs barking, chickens clucking, or cannon shots. I think any of those would have brought the show to a halt!

What is your favorite restaurant in town?

There are so many good ones from which to choose. It really depends on the sort of mood I'm in. I love 2 Vine, but also Dinosaur BBQ. Of course, there's always Golden Port, which is right across from the RPO offices. The owner, Wayne, is always friendly, welcoming, and supportive of the orchestra. I've known him since before the restaurant moved from its former location on Clinton Avenue. I enjoy going to the Highland Park Diner with Christopher, which must certainly be his favorite spot. But, truth be told, I'm always plenty happy to just go to the Pittsford Wegmans and graze!

Where are your travels taking you during the summer break?

I've had a couple of concerts out in Colorado, which is beautiful this time of year. We also got to NYC for several days to take in some ballets. This was a treat for our daughter, who at six is a budding ballerina. Her biggest thrill was getting a backstage tour of the Met given by Sarah Lane, one of American Ballet Theatre's principal dancers, whom we know from her many appearances as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the RPO's Nutcracker over the years. Also got up to Canada for a few days to visit some relatives and right now, as I write this, we're headed to the beach for a little end-of-summer R & R.

Use this link for more information on the RPO 2010-11 orKIDStra Series.

Click here for more information on the Symphony 101 Series.

Tickets go on sale August 30, but become a season ticket holder now and you can save up to 20% off regular prices, plus have additional benefits such as the no-hassle ticket exchange and Subscriber Standby. For more information on subscribing, click here, or call 454-2100.

August 12, 2010

Q&A with Jeff Tyzik on the 2010-2011 Season

This coming season, the RPO’s Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik leads the orchestra for all the best in popular music, featuring jazz, Broadway, the return of Bugs Bunny to Rochester, and our festive tradition of Gala Holiday Pops. I had a chance to talk with Jeff to find out more about the upcoming Pops concerts.

The Pops Series opens with a tribute to the Music of Ray Charles. Tell us more about Ellis Hall, the featured guest that night.

Ellis Hall has worked with Michael McDonald and other artists. He is endorsed by the Ray Charles family as an artist that most represents the Ray Charles sound. He recently had a successful concert with the Boston Pops. He sings the hits of Ray Charles, plays B3 Hammond Organ and a background vocal group comes with him to lend an air of authenticity for the Ray Charles sound.

Use this link for a video clip of Ellis Hall singing "Georgia on My Mind."

Note: the Pops season opening concert also includes a Red Carpet Spectacular with a Wegmans culinary extravaganza. Click here for more information.

We have a few guest artists coming back this season with new projects, including Debbie Gravitte, Wycliffe Gordon, and Michael Cavanaugh. Can you tell us more about those concerts?

Each of these artists is a top entertainer and it will be fun to see them return with a new show. We will feature Debbie doing eclectic Broadway and swing music. Wycliffe will be doing his signature jazz and then a whole half of a concert dedicated to the mix of gospel music and jazz. Michael Cavanaugh—who was here for the tribute to Billy Joel—will now unveil his tribute to Elton John.

And we hear you’re working with actor and singer Keith David on a tribute to Nat King Cole —how did that come about?

Both Chris Stager, our marketing consultant, and Byron Stripling, a performer who has had many appearances with the RPO, suggested Keith David. He is a wonderful actor who happens to love the music of Nat King Cole. His voice has an uncanny resemblance to Nat King Cole and I am creating this concert for its first performance here in Rochester.

The Rochester City Ballet will be part of the Pops Series for the first time this season, although Jamey Leverett has choreographed dances to your music before, for Bravo! Colorado. What is that process like?

I have had two experiences working with Jamey Leverett and the RCB. These experiences have been among the most profound of my career. I'm looking forward to this interesting and unique opportunity to have two of Rochester's most important cultural assets on stage at the same time.

What is one of your funniest or oddest RPO concert (or rehearsal) memories ...

One of the funniest and most stressful was the time we had the Mambo Kings in the orchestra pit. They were supposed to rise on the elevator while we were playing together during the performance. We had a stage crew member in the pit who had to press a button to activate the upward movement of the elevator while the concert was in progress. We were all playing and when he pressed the button, nothing happened. Everyone was panicked. It took a few minutes to realize that the stage manager at the time had forgotten to activate the switch from backstage. It's funny now, but at the time it was terrifying.

We know you like to cook – what are some of your favorite meals this summer?

This summer is all about light meals. Grilling local vegetables. Eating our local fruits like raspberries, strawberries and peaches and lots of seafood from Wegmans.

Where are your travels taking you during the summer break?

I'll be spending time on the North Fork of Long Island, NY—at the very tip of Long Island—and then a little time on Cape Cod. Both locations are near the ocean. Early morning walks on the beach to clear my head and get ready for the new season. I also get to spend good time with Jill and of course our dog, Puccini.

Click here for a full list of the 2010-11 Pops Series.

Tickets go on sale August 30, but become a season ticket holder now and you can save up to 20% off individual ticket prices, plus have additional benefits such as the no-hassle ticket exchange and Subscriber Standby. For more information on subscribing, click here, or call 454-2100.

July 28, 2010

Maestro Ling Leads RPO in Mozart and Dvorak

Next Wednesday, August 4, the RPO welcomes back guest conductor Jahja Ling for an evening of works by Mozart and Dvorak - in the air-conditioned comfort of the Performance Hall at Hochstein for the last of the “Midsummer Classics” concerts this summer.

The concert opens with the animated overture to Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, and then the brilliance of Mozart continues with pianist Jessie Chang and the sparkling Piano Concerto in G major. Then in the second half, you’ll hear Dvorak’s joyful Eighth Symphony. Use this link for more concert information.

The concert starts at 7:30 pm, but come early and you can enjoy wine tastings beginning at 6:00 pm and pre-concert chamber music at 6:30 pm. A trio of RPO musicians will perform Spanish-flavored music by Williams, Granados, and Turina. Among the featured wineries are Mayers Lake Ontario Winery and Eagle Crest Vineyards. Holly Howell of the Democrat and Chronicle also will be on hand to answer questions about wine.

Plus, the Rochester Plaza Hotel - just a few blocks from Hochstein - is offering RPO patrons free on-site parking and a dining discount at the State Street Bar and Grill. Click here for details about all the pre-concert activities.

Maestro Ling is now in his seventh season as Music Director of the San Diego Symphony and recently celebrated his 25th Anniversary with the Cleveland Orchestra, including six seasons as director of the Blossom Festival. Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, of Chinese descent and now an American citizen, Mr. Ling studied at Juilliard and with renowned conductors, among them Leonard Bernstein.

Tickets are $30. Call 454-2100, or use this link to purchase online.

July 13, 2010

Cirque Acrobats Perform with RPO at CMAC

The circus is coming to town, but in the more elegant form of “cirque,” featuring the amazing aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen of Cirque de la Symphonie!

Back by popular demand after a sell-out performance in 2009, they will perform for one acrobatic evening only on Saturday, July 24 at 7:30 pm, with ALL NEW performances customized for our own Jeff Tyzik and the RPO! Bring your entire family – kids 12 and under are FREE on the lawn at CMAC!

You’ll have a chance to watch many of the best Cirque artists in the world — including world record holders, gold-medal winners, and Olympians — as they literally drop into CMAC, right above the orchestra as it performs live. The combination of live music and acrobatics is totally mesmerizing. Click here to read more about the show from the perspective of one of the RPO musicians.

Click this link or the image below to view video of Cirque de la Symphonie performing with the Cincinnati Pops.

Alexander “Sasha” Streltsov, the company’s chief aerial artist, grew up in the circus world of Moscow. At age 12 he started working with future Cirque du Soleil choreographer Pavel Brun, and went on to perform on Broadway at the Gershwin Theater. CMAC audiences will see him soaring above the stage – suspended from silk fabric – in a spectacular display of aerial artistry, or performing his riveting spinning cube act.

The program also features the amazing strongmen Jarek and Darek, Irina Burdetsky’s twirling hula hoops, and Vladimir Tsarkov’s spellbinding combination of mime and juggling feats.

While all this is going on, you’ll hear the orchestra performing selections from Carmen, Swan Lake, The Firebird, and John Williams’ scores to Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, among others.

Tickets start at $20. Order your tickets online today or call 454-2100 to order by phone.

July 7, 2010

RPO’s “Mozart and Marriage” Concert Features Musical Couple

RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde and Principal Oboist Erik Behr — a husband and wife team — will be featured in next week’s Midsummer Classics concert at Hochstein. Christopher Seaman conducts music of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven on Wednesday, July 14 at 7:30 pm, his final summer performance as the RPO’s Music Director. (Click here for concert information).

We had a chance to talk with Juliana about the works they will be performing, and their summer activities.

Tell us a little about the pieces you’re performing for the “Mozart and Marriage” concert.

First off, the Bach double concerto for violin and oboe is obviously a favorite of ours. It’s a beautiful piece, especially the slow movement, and shows off both instruments' lyrical and technical abilities. The violin and oboe are wonderfully matched due to the similar ranges of the instruments as well as the voice-like qualities of each. We have performed this piece a number of times and discover something new in every performance.

I have fond memories of the Bach A minor violin concerto from my childhood as a Suzuki violin student. This piece is "in the books," as they say (referring to the set of 10 Suzuki books pertaining to the Dr. Suzuki method of violin playing), and I probably first played it when I was no more than 6 or 7 years old. I am most looking forward to hearing what Christopher's harpsichord playing along with the orchestra will bring to this work — I've only ever played it accompanied by the piano!

What have you been doing this summer to occupy yourselves while the RPO is on break?

We are lucky to be busy during the time off from the RPO. In June, we visited four different cities in as many weeks! The first week of June, Juliana performed as a guest concertmaster with the Kansas City Symphony with Michael Stern (son of late virtuoso violinist, Isaac Stern) conducting. The middle two weeks of June we both performed in San Diego as members of the Mainly Mozart Festival. The last week of June we flew to Maryland where Juliana is on the faculty of the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland. Finally, Juliana was flown to Aspen, Colorado, under the auspices of the Aspen Music Festival, to deliver the convocation speech to all 700 students and 75 faculty members. After the RPO finishes the summer season in July, we will be headed to Sun Valley, Idaho for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony during the month of August. And if that wasn't enough travel, in September we plan to visit Erik's family in Cape Town, South Africa!

When do you practice? Are you early risers or night owls? Do you practice together?

Whenever we need to! As an oboist, Erik has to make reeds — a daily endeavor which starts with bamboo cane, includes many different steps, and after a few hours, results in new oboe reeds — constantly and has a very nice "reed room" in which to do so. We are both more prone to nighttime practicing and thankfully, our neighbors like the sounds of our instruments! We are definitely night owls and often stay up past 1 am — something we try to avoid when we have 9:30 am RPO rehearsals the next morning. While we don't ever practice together, we try to practice at the same time — that way we can enjoy our free time together. Speaking of which, we're heading to the pool right now!

June 29, 2010

Bravo, Michael Butterman!

Did you know that the RPO performed more than 30 concerts this past year for schoolchildren and for families? From the various school concerts, to the orKIDStra Family Series, to the “Around the Town” community concerts, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has a deep commitment to music education and community engagement.
When Michael Butterman was named Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) in 2000, he was the first conductor in America to hold a position devoted to programming for young people. This pioneering move for Rochester and the RPO was a major milestone along a path that dates back to the early days of the Orchestra.

The Rochester Civic Orchestra (predecessor to the RPO) was among the first ensembles in the U.S. to be devoted to presenting educational concerts. This includes the innovative “School of the Air” beginning in October 1929, when orchestra concerts were broadcast over the radio to schools around the area, and in later years, throughout the state. George Eastman himself contributed new radio receivers to 36 schools so they could hear the concerts. After each one, students could vote for their favorite composition (and this was way before “American Idol”), and the most popular works were later performed in an all-request program.

Michael Butterman’s extraordinary ability to communicate the glories of great music to audiences of any age has made him a natural for this position. Michael tells us, “Sharing the magic of music and finding ways of igniting that spark of imagination in young minds is among the most gratifying work I can imagine.”

And while his career has taken off over the past decade to include music directorships in Boulder and Shreveport and Resident Conductor status in Jacksonville — in addition to an impressive array of guest conducting engagements across the country — we are grateful that he continues to serve in this vital role here in our community. Happy 10th Anniversary, Michael!

By the way, you have three chances to hear Michael conduct the RPO this summer: a free concert at Ontario Beach tomorrow, June 30, the "Red, White, and Boom!" concert at CMAC this Saturday, July 3—which also will include pre-concert activities for families—and the free July Fourth concert in downtown Rochester. Kids 12 and under are FREE on the lawn for the CMAC concerts this summer!

And you can click here for more information about next year’s series of family concerts conducted by Michael Butterman — which includes Green Eggs and Ham and Peter vs. The Wolf. When you subscribe now to the orKIDStra Series, you can add on tickets to a special matinee of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, at a 75% discount.

June 8, 2010

What are Your Musical Memories?

Something as mundane as folding laundry can take me on a trip: here’s the souvenir t-shirt from this winter’s trip to Florida, last summer’s Vermont vacation, a trip to Colorado a few years’ back, or a memorable Paris vacation.

In much the same way, music can have that same effect, transporting me to a particular time and place – be it a pop hit from high school, that dance number that was popular in the clubs during college, the music that was played at my wedding.

Just the other day, I heard the acoustic hit single “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas on the radio and grew nostalgic, thinking of long summer days during school breaks. I could even picture the 45 single I bought when it first came out (yes, I know I’m dating myself!) and, amazingly, was able to find it in my record collection.

What is one of your musical memories? We posed this question to the RPO musicians and staff – read on for their responses … and you can post one of your own as a comment.

And by the way, if I lived at the RPO Symphony Showhouse, I could be inspired by Carmina Burana as I was folding my laundry … but that’s another story – click here.

As I and my son Josef think of Mozart's Sinfonia concertante and the Liszt Piano Concerto in Eb, we invariably get transported to a capacity-filled, standing room-only Eastman Theatre with our family being featured as soloists with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in performances of these works on a memorable evening of 1985.

Music is a marvelous time machine. Memories of our performances as a family and our extended family of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's musicians connect me and my son within the spirit of my family and our eternal music making throughout our lives and our work together.

– Michail and Josef Verba

Bernstein's "Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story will probably always bring me back to my first job, which was with a training orchestra in Miami Beach. We rehearsed the piece so thoroughly that I think everyone had it nearly memorized, then we took it on a very exotic and exciting tour to South America.

– Lara Sipols

During our recent performances of the Verdi Requiem, I kept thinking of the first time I played during the Spoleto festival in Italy. The brass fanfare players surrounded the audience, performing from private balconies. It was overwhelmingly beautiful.

– Heidi Brodwin

Violinist Fritz Kreisler playing Liebesfreud (appropriately, “Love’s Joy”) on one of my first dates with my now-husband of 30+ years. Has to be Kreisler himself playing, scratchy recording and all!

– Amy Blum

Vaughan Williams’ Concerto in A minor for Oboe and Strings. My absolute favorite. A dear friend of mine, who played oboe in the RPYO during high school, introduced it to me then… and every time I hear it, it takes me somewhere new.

– Nancy Goldsmith Zawacki

This is kinda silly, but… Anything by Norah Jones reminds me of the beginning of my senior year of college…transports me back to hanging out in our apartment kitchen with the windows all open and the breeze flowing. Definitely summertime music.

– Sarah Goldstein Post

June 2, 2010

Celebrity Chef Carol Tabone Prepares Summer Meal for Chef's Night

This year’s Showhouse experience includes several special events, including Chefs’ Demonstrations. We caught up with Carol Tabone, former director of The Cooking School at Jungle Jim’s International market in Cincinnati, to discuss her planned menu for the evening of Sunday, June 6 at 6:00 pm.

Tabone may have just finished up 21 years as director of The Cooking School, but she has not slowed down. She continues to keep up a fairly full teaching schedule, while allowing more time for family, friends, and travel. Tabone has partnered with a friend who owns a travel agency to offer gourmet/travel experiences to a group of foodies with wanderlust. “We have ridden camels in the Middle East, picked grapes in Italy, sunbathed in the south of France, and held cooking classes on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.” Tabone recalls. “My love for travel continues so I am hoping to continue these annual getaways.”

Travel played a role in Tabone’s early career path, too. When Tabone moved to England, she encountered many new English friends who were excellent cooks and created elegant dinner parties with an elevated concept for entertaining and cuisine. “I learned to cook more elaborately,” she states. “A few friends suggested we take a Cordon Bleu class and the seed was planted!”

Tabone is not new to the Showhouse experience, having participated several years ago at the urging of a local friend who supported the RPO and shared their common love of music. “I enjoyed the experience and the evening seemed to be well received,” Tabone says. “I am happy to have the opportunity to support the RPO again this year.”

The menu Tabone has chosen for the evening is perfect for entertaining in the summer months because everything can be served “alfresco” at room temperature and prepared ahead. “The host and hostess are able to enjoy their own party and no one is stuck in a hot kitchen,” she exclaims. “This is stress-free entertaining!”

What is Tabone’s favorite ingredient? “SALT, it enhances everything else,” she says. Tabone is of Italian descent and her mother was a wonderful traditional Italian cook, so you can guess her favorite dish quickly. “Pasta—it is versatile and adaptable.” Tabone says. “We ate pasta twice a week but my grandfather had pasta every day of his life.”

Click here to see Tabone’s full menu and other details about this RPO Symphony Showhouse Special Event.

May 21, 2010

Symphony Showhouse Kicks Off This Weekend!

The ribbon at the entryway has been cut—and Symphony Showhouse 2010 opens this weekend, starting with a gala affair tonight, and public tours tomorrow and Sunday. These two newly constructed houses—dubbed the "Pops House" and the "Philharmonics House" and built by Ketmar Development Corporation—feature the work of 40 designers in 54 rooms and spaces, with each room reflecting a designer’s unique style.

Dani Palidor of Suite Artistry Interior Design is transforming the basement of the Philharmonics House into a full service suite cleverly disguised as a playroom for all ages as part of this year’s Showhouse. The multi-use space (see before, at left, and after, below) is split into several unique feature areas, the designs of each harmoniously blending together to create one unified look.

The design concept is based on a journey to Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland set to the musical styling of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. “The theme was selected because of the trans-generational appeal of both Alice in Wonderland and Rhapsody in Blue,” said Polidor. “Rhapsody in Blue was unanimously selected by all members of the entire design team as it spoke to each person in a different way.”

The greatest challenge for Polidor and her team is co-coordinating all the diverse specialists, materials, and personalities. “Everyone involved has a real passion for the project and there have been no daunting challenges that have not been overcome with a sense of humor and a smile,” she states. “The professionalism displayed by all participants is wonderful.”

Showhouse is not a new endeavor for Polidor as she also participated in the 2006 fundraiser. Polidor and her team believe strongly in supporting the arts. Note that all the participating designers have donated their services—and the proceeds benefit the RPO’s education program.

This event is also made possible by 500 volunteers, who have been on the committees planning the events, and will serve as ticket takers, room hosts, and docents giving guided tours. I attended the volunteer training Wednesday night and it was impressive to see all the volunteers and appreciate how much work has gone into making the behind-the-scenes logistics run smoothly. Kudos to Marilyn Merrigan, the RPO’s Manager of Special Events, and Showhouse Co-Chairs David Ackroyd, Pat Taylor, and Carole Avery Webster.

For tickets and more information—including details on all the various special events, from Chefs’ Nights to an evening of Wine & Jazz—visit

May 12, 2010

Debussy Inspires French-Themed Room at Symphony Showhouse

Susanna Kopp of Design Details is another veteran of RPO Symphony Showhouse, having also participated in the 2006 Green Lantern Inn and 2008 Ellwanger Estate events.

With a love for things of the past, Kopp started out earning a degree in Archaeology with an emphasis on Ancient Architecture. From there she found her way to Architecture/Design and actually re-designs vintage furniture with her Maison Fleur de Lis Vintage Furniture line.

“With this design philosophy and process in mind, I’ve launched my vintage furniture line, re-creating unloved pieces into unique treasures. To me it's a full circle; I am again bringing the past to the present.” noted Kopp.

Kopp will be recreating the mechanical room in the basement of the Philharmonics House. The room is a raw space with exposed ceiling rafters, bare stud, and cinderblock walls, with a concrete floor and an electrical panel box. It will be transformed for Showhouse using vintage accessories, architectural salvage, and a little magic.

The theme will be a vintage French art studio in Provence, featuring items from her hand-painted Vintage Furniture collection.

“The musical inspiration is ‘Les Fetes’ from Nocturnes by Claude Debussy. It is a lively and lyrical piece which mimics the scrolls, vines, and embellishments that I paint on my furniture. I was enticed to return to push myself as a designer by taking the space that no one else wanted ... to create something from nothing.”

Kopp works mostly with timeless neutrals of crème and matte black. “Occasionally I go on the wild side and use a ‘new neutral’ as in the 2010 Showhouse, such as French Blue, Sage, or Beige. I prefer my pieces to be classic and elegant, that way then can be enjoyed in any home for decades to come.”

Symphony Showhouse 2010 opens on May 22 and runs through June 13. This "duet of cottages" features two newly constructed homes at Thornell Road and Route 64 in Pittsford and built by Ketmar Development. More than 50 spaces will showcase the work of 40 area designers. There are public tours, as well as numerous special events. Use this link for more information.

May 5, 2010

Music from Carmina Burana Inspires a Laundry Room

Darcy Paddock of DK Design has participated in several past RPO Symphony Showhouse events, decorating three prior sitting rooms. (She’s also serving this year as co-chair of the design committee). She’s been drawn back by the mere fact of various designers coming together to raise funds for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

While Paddock’s life has been literally drenched in art and design since birth, her greatest challenge this year was finding a room theme to compliment the music selection, a highlight of this year’s Showhouse. Paddock will be designing the laundry room in the Philharmonics House and had this to say about her choices:

“I looked over the list of the music given to the participating designers to choose from and was immediately struck and lifted by the energy of Carmina Burana, a scenic cantata composed in 1935 by Carl Orff from a collection of 24 medieval poems with the same title. In the mid-1920s Orff began to formulate a concept he called elementare Musik, or elemental music, which was based on the unity of the arts symbolized by the ancient Greek Muses (who gave music its English name) and involved tone, dance, poetry, image, design, and theatrical gesture. I was especially taken by the piece titled, Oh Fortuna. This piece of music had motivated me during a difficult event in my life…let’s just say, it will get you to your feet! At the very least, to do the laundry!

“I really appreciate laundry rooms and believe that they are to women what garages and basements are to men. Okay, so it is a stretch to compare the modern amenities present in this sumptuous laundry room with how laundry or any work would have been done in the time this music refers to, but are we not still just as subject to the uncertainty of fate and fortune, and our shared human condition now, as we were then?

“Then the question came of how to relate it to the interior design of a laundry room. Red for the walls seemed to best express the energy of the music but not a bright busy red; instead, a deep grounding red, barn-like because this music is set in the lives of simple people. The black and off-white fabric on the window depicting the life of early farming—complete with a woman chasing a man with an old wooden pitch fork—helps express a part of the mood and theme of the music. The blacks and off-whites against the red help maximize visual strength and contrast.

“But in the midst of all this there is a pleasant place to sit on a stool near a window and tend to whatever quiet work is at hand.”

Paddock has certainly made the chore of laundry appear more like another form of art!

Symphony Showhouse 2010 opens on May 22 and runs through June 13. This "duet of cottages" features two newly constructed homes at Thornell Road and Route 64 in Pittsford and built by Ketmar Development. More than 50 spaces will showcase the work of 40 area designers. There are public tours, as well as numerous special events. Use this link for more information.

April 29, 2010

A View from the Front of the Stage

For two weeks in a row, a pair of Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra musicians who are leaders of their instrumental sections will be featured out front in rare solo opportunities. Principal Trumpet Douglas Prosser and Principal Viola Melissa Matson stopped by to chat about what it's like to wear a solo "hat," and more...

"The first difference is how I approach the playing," said Melissa, who will be performing Berlioz's Harold in Italy on May 6 and 8. A soloist versus a section player "requires a different kind of energy." As a leader of the viola section (the job of a section principal), her voice is representative of the whole section and texture. "In a solo spot, I'm out in front of the orchestra and need to make the sound really project." Although Harold in Italy is a well-known work for viola solo and orchestra, this will be her first performance of the piece. She's looking forward to "enjoying the roller coaster ride" of the solo experience!

Douglas Prosser—featured in Tomasi's Trumpet Concerto on April 29 and May 1—talked about the differences in the level of intimacy with the audience and also the trumpet sonority standing out front. "When you're cueing the section, you're ‘inside' the ensemble," he said. "A soloist has the opportunity to step out and get into his own personal interpretation and sound of the piece." He described Tomasi's Concerto as being a "playful and spontaneous conversation" between the soloist and the various orchestral sections. And audiences can expect the first movement to sound quite improvisatory, as the sections "play off of each other."

Harold in Italy also has an interesting "interplay" concept: a "duet" between viola and harp. Guest conductor Andreas Delfs and Melissa already have been in contact about some possible "staging" ideas.

RPO patrons who know Melissa also are aware of her "other" talents in textiles. In fact, she's shared with us that she's making two dresses for the pair of concerts. If they both come out well, she's planning on wearing a different one each night. Stay tuned!

April 22, 2010

South Pacific Features Broadway Stars

This weekend's RPO performances of South Pacific feature lead actors from New York City who have starred in numerous Broadway and touring productions of South Pacific. In fact, the singer playing Emile de Becque is in the Broadway show right now, and will travel to Rochester from New York City just for these performances.

Jeff Tyzik and the RPO – along with a 24-voice chorus – will be recreating the full-length concert version of South Pacific that the New York Philharmonic performed at Carnegie Hall in 2006 and also was broadcast on PBS. According to Doug LaBrecque, the producer of our show, concert versions of Broadway musicals are a relatively new addition and have been very successful in New York and elsewhere. (Certainly true here – there are only a few seats left!)

And even though this Rodgers and Hammerstein hit musical is more than 60 years old, it explores issues that find a contemporary parallel even today. Click here for more.

For more information about the concert, use this link.

Pictured above: William Michals (Emile de Becque), Sara Jean Ford (Nellie Forbush), Aisha de Haas (Bloody Mary), Hugh Panaro (Lt. Cable).

April 16, 2010

Summer's Comin'!

Ahh, summer in Rochester. We wait so long, and when it comes, we cram so much into it! Well, no matter where you live, what your schedule looks like, or how your musical tastes run, the RPO covers the gamut this summer. And tickets are now on-sale!

Between the end of June and early August, we perform more than a dozen concerts in numerous venues indoors and out. We’re excited to share the news that we’ll be back at CMAC in Canandaigua for three of the most imaginative concerts you can think of. And lawn tickets are free for kids 12 and under for all our CMAC concerts. The Marcus Roberts Trio reprises its sold-out concert with the Berlin Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa in a swinging jazz fusion version of Gershwin’s Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra. Click here to see the incredible YouTube clip. Red, White, and Boom! conducted by Michael Butterman celebrates the holiday early with fireworks. Next, Jeff Tyzik takes the “swingin” up a couple of decades, in The Swingin’ Sixties and Seventies with the fabulous group, New York Voices. Finally, we “swing”- literally - from the rafters (okay, not the RPO musicians themselves), with a jaw-dropping group of some of the best Cirque acrobats returning by popular demand, in a custom-designed program of Cirque de la Symphonie specifically for the RPO and Jeff. So bring the family!

We’re also expanding last year’s new classical series at Hochstein to three concerts, now called Midsummer Classics, with world-class conductors and guest artists and pre-concert wine and music. Young Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit - who made quite the impression in his RPO debut - opens the series with violinist Joan Kwuon in Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto. Love is in the air the following week, with our newlywed couple, Concertmaster Juliana Athayde and Principal Oboe Erik Behr sharing the stage in Bach’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin conducted by Christopher Seaman. Juliana also performs Bach’s First Violin Concerto. Midsummer Classics concludes with a return of Jahja Ling leading the orchestra in Dvořák, with dynamic pianist Jessie Chang making her RPO debut in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17.

In addition to these two series, there are plenty of concerts to fill up your musical summer. Lots of Rochesterians have been followers of the Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition. For the first time, the RPO will be accompanying these young pianists in the final round. What an opportunity to hear these teenagers before they make it onto the international music scene. We’ll also be the orchestra for the concert featuring the gifted young conductors participating in the Eastman School’s Conducting Institute.

And don’t forget the concerts at SUNY Geneseo, the annual fundraiser for Temple B’rith Kodesh, and the free concerts at Ontario Beach, Frontier Field, and our July 4th concert on the Main Street Bridge downtown with fireworks. (Photo here thanks to Walter Colley.) See you soon!