April 27, 2011

James Judd Joins RPO for Scheherazade and Tchaikovsky

Maestro James Judd will take the place of guest conductor David Robert Coleman this weekend, leading the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in two concerts, Thursday April 28 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, April 30 at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Coleman’s Albeniz Phantasy will be replaced by Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, and due to the program change, guest violist Edmundo Ramirez will not be performing with the Orchestra this weekend. The remainder of the program—Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Ravel’s Shéhérazade, featuring soprano Christina Pier—remains the same.

British-born conductor James Judd has conducted some of the finest orchestras in the world. He first came to international attention as the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, a post he accepted at the invitation of Lorin Maazel. Judd spent eight years as Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and 14 years as Music Director of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a frequent guest conductor, and has appeared with major orchestras around the world.

American soprano Christina Pier has performed leading roles with opera companies around the world, and has appeared as a guest artist with several orchestras, including the Indianapolis Symphony (Handel’s Messiah), and the Hartford Symphony (Ravel’s Shéhérazade). Pier received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music at Indiana University.

In addition to two unique versions of Scheherazade, you’ll have the opportunity to hear Tchaikovsky’s romantic and dramatic symphonic poem, Francesca da Rimini. Like Scheherazade, Francesca da Rimini was inspired by a literary work. Francesca da Rimini was a real person and a contemporary of Dante Alighieri, and he included her story in the Inferno section of his epic poem, The Divine Comedy. Click here to read the program notes.
Like Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky makes masterful use of the orchestra, and vividly depicts the fire, fury, and passion of this tragic tale. This concert provides a great opportunity to experience musical storytelling at its finest — buy your tickets today!

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here.

April 19, 2011

Don’t Miss an Evening of Musical Storytelling with the RPO

The story of Scheherazade and her 1,001 Arabian Nights is widely known, and has been translated into countless languages. This weekend, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will give you the opportunity to experience this classic legend in a whole new way—through the language of music.

On Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, April 30 at 8:00 pm at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the RPO and guest conductor David Robert Coleman will bring you two unique musical representations of Scheherazade. You’ll hear Ravel’s evocative and mesmerizing song-cycle, featuring soprano Christina Pier, and, Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful and tempestuous orchestral suite. The program also will feature Costa Rican violist Edmundo Ramirez in a performance of Albeniz Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra, a work composed by the concert’s conductor, David Robert Coleman. Click here to read the program notes for this piece.

The legend of Scheherazade centers on a cruel Sultan who, believing that all women are fickle, resolves to take a new bride each day and put her to death the next. As Christopher Seaman describes, the Sultan’s new wife, Scheherazade, “charms him into delaying her execution by telling him hair-raising stories…In the end, the Sultan can’t resist the charms or the stories of Scheherazade, so he postpones her execution permanently. A wise choice.”

Both Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade are based upon the same story, but each expresses the Arabian Nights legend in uniquely different ways. Ravel’s version is a musical setting of several poems by Tristan Klingsor, the pen name of Ravel’s friend, Arthur Justin Léon Leclère (click here to read the text with English translation), and is more of a vague, dream-like evocation than an explicit account. Christopher Seaman describes Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade as “a much more direct work than Ravel’s,” and points to the use of musical motifs used by Rimsky-Korsakov to signify “the cruel Sultan” and “his delightful wife Scheherazade (violin solo!).”

Since these works are programmed back-to-back, you will be able to explore the ways in which Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov’s respective versions differ from each other, the ways in which they evoke the legend of Scheherazade, and the ways in which they go beyond a literal depiction of the story to take on a unique musical "language."

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here.

April 12, 2011

Wycliffe Gordon, Voices of Praise Team Up for the Gospel According to Jazz

Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre will be swingin’ this weekend as renowned jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon takes the stage for an evening of gospel music. Gordon will team up with Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Rochester’s own Voices of Praise for two electrifying concerts, April 15 and 16 at 8:00 pm.

One of the nation’s foremost jazz musicians, Wycliffe Gordon has received numerous accolades, including the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Trombonist of the Year. Gordon is a former member of two premiere jazz ensembles—the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra—and has performed with jazz legends past and present, including Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton. Use this link to see a video of Wycliffe performing.

In addition to being an acclaimed musician, Gordon is also an accomplished composer and arranger, and will play several of his own compositions. The program will also include jazz and gospel standards such as Mood Indigo, Basin Street Blues, Down By the Riverside, O Happy Day, and a special performance of There Will Never Be Another You, featuring Gordon and the RPO trombone section. Click here for an audio preview.

Gordon will be joined by Rochester-based gospel choir Voices of Praise, under the direction of Julius Dicks. VOP sings at the Baber A.M.E. Church, and also participates in community events, including the Memorial Art Gallery’s 2010 Fashion Show.

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here. Select seats will be “Pay What You Can” with a suggested minimum donation of $5, sponsored by Eastman Kodak Co. These tickets will be available the night of the show, at the door.

April 5, 2011

RPO and Eastman-Rochester Chorus Perform Brahms' Monumental German Requiem

Hailed by generations of audiences, Brahms' A German Requiem is a monumental masterpiece that addresses universal themes of death, faith, and transition. This magnificent work will be performed live by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus on April 7 at 7:30 pm and April 9 at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

Christopher Seaman, Photo Courtesy Walter Colley Images
Christopher Seaman, Photo Courtesy Walter Colley Images

RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman conducts this unforgettable evening, which also features soloists Kathryn Lewek and Tyler Duncan. The first half of the concert includes selections from Handel's Water Music.

Soprano Kathryn Lewek earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music, and has performed throughout the United States and Europe, including performances in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center. Lewek has performed with the RPO on several occasions, including last month's Symphony 101 concert, in which she was a guest artist for Ralph Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music.

Lewek will be joined onstage by Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan in his RPO debut. Duncan has performed acclaimed recitals around the world, and has performed leading roles with numerous opera companies, including the title role of The Marriage of Figaro with the Munich Chamber Orchestra.

Click here for more information on the Brahms Requiem, including the original German text with English translation.

Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here.