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.