May 31, 2011

Don't Miss Christopher Seaman's Final Concerts with the RPO!

After 13 wonderful seasons of music and memories, Christopher Seaman will conclude his tenure as Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in grand fashion. Christopher will lead the RPO in two special farewell concerts, Thursday, June 2 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, June 4 at 5:30 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Don't miss your chance to celebrate Christopher's time with the RPO, and to wish him a fond farewell!

For his final concert as RPO Music Director, Christopher has selected music that is especially close to his heart. First, the RPO will perform a British classic—Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music. Vaughan Williams composed Serenade to Music at the request of the English conductor Sir Henry Wood, whose legacy lives on through the annual Promenade (Proms) Concerts in London, which he founded in 1895 in an attempt to bring great music to ordinary, working class people.

Next, Christopher will lead the RPO in another British masterpiece, Elgar's Enigma Variations. The Enigma Variations provide sketches of 13 of Elgar's dearest friends. As Christopher noted, "This seems very appropriate when I think of all my Rochester friends, from whom I have received endless kindness and support."

The concert will conclude with Brahms' lyrical and joyous Symphony No. 2. Christopher has a strong personal connection to this particular piece which, as he puts it, got him his first job. Christopher says, "The BBC allowed me to conduct it in a trial concert for an Assistant Conductor job with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Luckily I got the job and my conducting career started, for which I have always been grateful to Brahms!"

Tickets for the concerts June 2nd and 4th can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here. Limited seating is still available for A Bow Tie Affair. Tickets are $275 per person, and can be purchased by calling the Eastman Theatre Box Office at 454-2100.

May 24, 2011

orKIDStra Concert and CD Launch Party!

On May 22, families gathered in the Performance Hall at Hochstein to witness the premiere of A Family for Baby Grand, a charming story that chronicles the journey of a baby grand piano who ventures out into the world to join an orchestra.

A Family for Baby Grand, with narration by Jennifer Carsillo, is one of the pieces on the RPO's newest children's CD, which also includes The Story of Babar by Francis Poulenc, narrated by actor John Lithgow.

Following the performance, audience members were treated to a CD launch party, also at Hochstein. The festive party—complete with cake!—brought together Michael Butterman, Jennifer Carsillo, and composer Brad Ross to autograph CDs and visit with well-wishers.

To purchase the RPO's newest CD, The Story of Babar & A Family for Baby Grand, visit the RPO Theatre Shop, call 454-2100, or click here.

Photos courtesy: Kyle Schwab Photography

May 12, 2011

RPYO Closes Out 40th Anniversary Season with “Twentieth Century Symphonic Masterworks”

Some of the area’s most talented young musicians will be featured this weekend as the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra takes the stage under the direction of David Harman, May 15 at 3:00 pm in Hale Auditorium at Roberts Wesleyan College.

The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is comprised of more than one hundred students, grades eight through twelve, from over thirty schools in the greater Rochester area. Now in its 40th season, the RPYO has fostered generations of young musicians, many of whom have gone on to pursue careers in music. “Our students have enormous talent and passion for music and incredible drive,” said Harman, who has been music director since 1993. “Wherever they perform, they astound audiences time and time again. Throughout this season, we have been celebrating them and the nearly 1,500 young musicians who have been part of this important cultural institution over the last 40 years.”

Each year, the RPYO presents three full programs of major symphonic works. For their final concert of the 2010-11 season, the RPYO will perform Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis and Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2. In addition, several musicians will get the opportunity to perform solo concertos, accompanied by the rest of the orchestra, as winners of the RPYO’s annual Concerto Competition.

This year’s Concerto Competition winners are: violinist Clare Grieve, a senior at Fairport High School; violist Rachel Haynes, a senior at Penfield High School; cellist Samantha Merrill, a senior at Brighton High School; and percussionist Matthew Parris, a senior at Charles Finney High School in Penfield. They will perform concertos by Bloch, Bruch, Hindemith, and Rosauro.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Click here to purchase tickets online, or call the RPO Box Office at 454-2100, or the RPYO at 454-7311 x224. Tickets also will be available at the door.

May 10, 2011

Go Behind the Music With Your RPO

The long-anticipated 2011-12 Symphony 101 Season has been announced! This special series is a unique blend of music and history. In addition to live music performed by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the audience gets to hear the inside story about how these wonderful works came into being, including in-depth looks at the lives of the composers, information about what was happening in the world when the pieces were written, and more. The concerts in this series will take place Friday evenings at 7:30 pm (except where noted) and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm, in Performance Hall at Hochstein.

There are five entertaining and illuminating concerts in the upcoming Symphony 101 Season, four of which will be conducted by new Music Director Arild Remmereit. Arild has chosen to expand upon themes from his innovative Philharmonics Series, and will explore fascinating and thought-provoking topics such as the influence of folk music on classical composers, the evolution of the waltz, and the way in which Beethoven’s legacy was at once inspiring and intimidating for composers that lived in the century following his passing. The concerts also will cover a wide range of cultures and historical eras, from the distinctive rhythms of Latin American music to the music that emerged out of the tumult and censorship of the Russian Revolution. Click here for more information on the topics discussed in each concert. And use this link to view podcasts of Arild talking about the upcoming RPO season.

Arild and the RPO will also be looking to you for input on the pieces performed in these concerts. As a special “thank you,” those who subscribe to the Symphony 101 Series by May 27 will be able to go online and vote on which piece they would like to hear the RPO perform in the first two Symphony 101 concerts!

Ticket packages for the Symphony 101 Series can be purchased by calling 454-2100, or by clicking here.

May 3, 2011

RPO Concert Features Unique Instruments for Music of Mozart and Bruckner

This weekend, Christopher Seaman leads the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in two magnificent works. On Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 pm, Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair) will take center stage at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre for a performance of one of Mozart's most popular compositions, his lyrical Clarinet Concerto. Then, the RPO will perform Bruckner's colorful and expansive Symphony No. 7.

At Thursday night's concert, the RPO will honor local teachers with the annual RPO Musicians' Awards for Outstanding Music Educators. Click here to read more. Plus, you will have the opportunity to buy an Eastman Theatre book for $65 at the concert Thursday or Saturday, and Christopher Seaman and author Betsy Brayer will autograph it for you after the concert! Use this link to find out more about this special book.

Kenneth Grant's performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto will be extra special this weekend, because Grant will be playing a special clarinet with an interesting history. As Christopher Seaman describes, "Mozart wrote this for an instrument called the basset clarinet, which has a range one-third lower than the regular clarinet. So if the piece is played on the regular clarinet, passages using those lowest four notes of the instrument have to be changed. But Kenny will use a basset clarinet, so we'll hear what Mozart actually wrote. The basset clarinet was considered to be extinct until recent years, when it has gone back into production."

Although the basset clarinet has only recently been rediscovered, Christopher has first-hand experience conducting this obscure instrument, and a special connection to the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. "I conducted the world premiere of the original version of the piece, played on a specially constructed basset clarinet by the English clarinetist Alan Hacker," Seaman says. "It was the very first week of my very first conducting job!"

Often called a "cathedral in sound," Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 is a magnificent piece that will give you the opportunity to see and hear another rare instrument—the Wagner tuba. Originally created for Richard Wagner's "Ring" operas, the Wagner tuba produces a sound that falls between the traditional orchestral horn and tuba. Bruckner's orchestration calls for four of these special brass instruments.

Come to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre this weekend to experience the full splendor of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, and to hear these extraordinary works as they were meant to be heard—live, unaltered, and performed by top-notch musicians.

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