August 29, 2011

Tickets Now on Sale for RPO's 2011-12 Season!

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2011-12 Season is fast approaching, and now is the time to get in on the excitement! Tickets for the upcoming season are on sale now — don’t miss your chance to experience Arild Remmereit’s inaugural season as RPO Music Director, the return of Cirque de la Symphonie, Mahler’s “Resurrection,” Itzhak Perlman, Carousel in Concert, and much more! Use this link to watch a YouTube video of Arild talking about the coming season.

The 2011-12 Season will launch in grand fashion with Arild’s Inaugural concerts, Friday, September 30 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, October 1 at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. For this historic event, Arild has selected a special lineup of pieces from his three musical homes. Concertmaster Juliana Athayde will perform the Violin Romance of Johan Svendson, a composer from Arild’s native Norway. The program also will feature two works by Johann Strauss, Jr., representing his musical home of Vienna. And Arild’s season-long celebration of women composers kicks off with the “Gaelic” Symphony of American composer Amy Beach.

Prior to the concert on September 30, join us as we celebrate Arild Remmereit’s opening night with a Red Carpet Spectacular. This special celebration includes a pre-concert dinner in the beautiful Eastman East Wing Rehearsal Hall (5:00 pm) and the Annual Red Carpet Walk (7:00 pm), featuring the RPO musicians. After the concert, there will be a Rooftop Party on the East End Garage (beginning at 9:30 pm), complete with a translucent tent, Latin dance band Orquesta Antonetti, and complimentary desserts, champagne, wine, and beer. Tickets for the Red Carpet Spectacular are available by calling Brian Piazza at 454-7311 x231 or click here for more information.

The 2011-12 Pops Season begins October 14 and 15 at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall with the amazing acrobats of Cirque de la Symphonie. The Pops Series also will feature Maureen McGovern performing hits of the 60s and 70s, Gala Holiday Pops, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic musical Carousel in concert, and much more.

Plus, Sunday, January 22 at 3:00 pm, violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman will take the stage at Kodak Hall for a special performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, with Arild conducting. Up-close pit seats have been added for both Itzhak Perlman and the Opening Weekend: Cirque Returns Pops concerts.

There are more extraordinary musical works and spectacular guest artists to be discovered in the RPO’s 2011-12 Season. Click here for the full lineup.

Use this link to purchase your tickets online, call 454-2100, or visit the Eastman Theatre Box Office at 433 East Main Street in the Eastman East Wing.

August 22, 2011

Michael Butterman Previews the 2011-2012 Season of Education Concerts

This coming season, the RPO’s Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) leads engaging family concerts that feature unforgettable characters, classic stories, musical hijinks, and more. We spoke with Michael to find out more about the upcoming season.

Next year’s orKIDStra Family Series features several iconic stories. Please tell us more about these concerts.

We begin in October with two tales of wayward bunnies ... The Runaway Bunny is a book by Margaret Wise Brown (author of Goodnight Moon) that has been set to music by composer Glen Roven. It's a work for violin soloist, narrator, and orchestra. The violinist for whom the piece was written, Ittai Shapiro, will be performing with us. He is an internationally renowned soloist who happens to also be a Rochester native. We will also be performing a musical setting of Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This is a charming adaptation that requires the narrator to use various character voices as well as to sing. We're pleased that Jennifer Carsillo, who recorded the narration for A Family for Baby Grand, will be joining us for this concert as well.

In February we'll hear about one of the unsung heroes of the orchestra—the tuba—in the well-loved classic, Tubby the Tuba. April's concert happens to fall directly on April 1—so we thought that we'd put together a fun concert that doesn't take itself too seriously. This will be an April's Fools' concert with plenty of surprises in store.

The RPO’s performance of Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches will be extra-special, because it will be the New York State premiere of the work. Can you tell us about the origins of this piece?

Sure ... we close our season in May with the premiere of a new musical setting of The Sneetches. We had a lot of success presenting Green Eggs and Ham last season and we were approached by Rochester physician and RPO supporter Sid Sobel, who happens to love this story as much as I do. He feels that its disarming way of getting to the heart of human nature is a wonder, and asked his friend, and eminent composer, Lorenzo Palomo, if he would write a work for narrator and orchestra that would bring this story to life in the concert hall. We're very excited to present what we expect will be a major new addition to the repertoire for children and families.

The RPO regularly performs concerts for schoolchildren at Kodak Hall and around Monroe County. What do you have planned for next year?

Our Intermediate Concerts for 4th and 5th graders will center on a work called The Composer is Dead. That ominous-sounding title is taken from a book by Lemony Snicket, author of the popular children's books A Series of Unfortunate Events. It takes the form of a mystery in which an inspector interrogates the various instruments in the orchestra and learns about their particular roles in music. For our Primary Concerts, for third graders, we will present Peter vs. the Wolf, which is a new take on Prokofiev's classic work. In this version, the piece is turned into a courtroom drama/comedy in which the wolf attempts to prove his innocence. Our orKIDStra audience enjoyed our presentation of the work this past season and we thought that it would be well received by our Primary Concert audiences as well. And our Tiny Tots concerts, for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, will explore basic musical elements in a concert called "High, Low, Fast and Slow: Musical Opposites."

And you’ll be making your Philharmonics Series debut this season. Can you tell us about the pieces that you will be conducting?

I'm very excited about this program because all of the pieces share an important common thread while exhibiting a tremendous variety of styles. Paris has been one of the most important centers in the history of music and each of these pieces is inexorably linked with this great city. We begin with Mozart's "Paris" Symphony—a work that he wrote especially for the accomplished (and large) orchestras of the city and one that he wrote with the Parisian audiences in mind. The Parisian setting opened up new possibilities to Mozart—ones that he fully explored, and exploited, in this exuberant work.

Then, we welcome Misha and Cipa Dichter, with whom I've had the pleasure to work on two previous occasions. They will play for us Francis Poulenc's wonderful Concerto for Two Pianos. Poulenc embraced a wonderful blend of sacred and profane. He was a deeply religious person, but also had a playful streak and could be quite irreverent. Parts of this concerto seem to come right out of Paris' cafés and saloons of the 1920s, while the gorgeous second movement channels Mozart's approach to beauty through simplicity.

Finally, we have Saint-Saёns' massive Organ Symphony—one of the most popular works in the repertoire, but also one of the least performed, due to its large size and need for an organ. We will be bringing one into Kodak Hall. If you saw the film Babe, then you already know one of the great melodies from this piece. It's a work that is beautifully organic in its construction (common themes and motives unite all of the movements) while containing a great deal of surface appeal as well.  It has great tunes and builds to a tremendous climax. What more could one want?

What do you enjoy most about conducting Education concerts?

Young people make for the most enthusiastic audiences of all. They hold nothing back. If they like something, they really like it, while the converse is also true. So I know that we have an opportunity to make a significant impact, and we get immediate feedback on how successful we've been. For me, those moments when I can sense that we've played something that has really connected with the kids are the ones that I treasure.

The RPO released a new children’s CD this spring featuring The Story of Babar and A Family for Baby Grand. What was your favorite part of making the CD?

Although I had been involved in recording projects before, they had been "live" events, so the process of planning the recording sessions and working on editing and mastering was absolutely new to me—and quite fascinating. It was very interesting to learn, for example, just how much "magic" can be accomplished with recording technology and by a skilled engineer, and yet how many details, in the end, simply depend on flawless execution on the part of the musicians being recorded. Throughout it all, Jeff Tyzik and our engineer, John Truebger, provided incredible support and I'm very grateful to them both.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

At this very moment it's all-Christmas, all the time. I happen to be conducting three different holiday programs in December (though none in Rochester), and now is the time when those programs are being finalized. So I'm familiarizing myself with the incredible amount of new music that composers and arrangers come out with each year that is geared toward the holiday season. Trying to keep those programs comfortable and familiar without becoming stale and predictable is a pretty big challenge. But it's fun. And as I've been sweating through the summer heat, listening to sleigh bells seems to help ... at least a little bit!

Where are your travels taking you and your family during the summer break?

We were privileged to spend about nine days in New York City in June taking in concerts, several ballets, a little Broadway, and plenty of museum time. It was the top item on our daughter's "wish list" for the summer. But we also managed to squeeze in some beach time and a visit to California to see family and do a little hiking.

August 15, 2011

Q&A with Jeff Tyzik on the 2011-2012 Pops Season

This coming season, RPO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik will lead the orchestra in a diverse array of music, including classic Broadway, swing, Holiday Pops, favorites of the 60s and 70s, and much more. We spoke with Jeff to find out more about the upcoming season.

The Pops Series opens with the return of Cirque de la Symphonie. Tell us what audiences can expect from this collaboration of music and acrobatics.

We are developing a new show with different music from their past performances. The show will have a different feel, but we can all count on Cirque's amazing artistry.

After a run at Geva last fall, Maureen McGovern will return to Rochester this year to perform as a guest artist with the RPO. How do you go about translating music from the 60s and 70s into a symphonic setting?

I've always loved Maureen's vocal artistry. Mel Tormé was a mentor to her. She has a crystal clear tone and a wide range of styles so it will be an interesting concert. She was phenomenal in her one-woman show at Geva and this concert including the RPO will be even more exciting.

Two years ago, the RPO performed a concert version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific—this year, it’s Carousel in concert. What can people look forward to in this production?

The South Pacific in Concert experience was so gratifying for both the audience and the performers that I decided to go for it again, this time with Carousel. My good friend Doug LaBrecque will be directing again and we are also engaging a number of New York Broadway artists for our lead roles.

This season will feature a “photochoreography” concert in which James Westwater’s photography is choreographed to live music. What can you tell us about this concert?

James Westwater is a visual artist combining his evocative photographic images set to music like Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man and Billy the Kid. Huge screens above the orchestra will show his images that he has choreographed to the music played by the RPO.

The RPO recently held a Birthday Benefit concert in celebration of your 60th birthday. What else did you do to celebrate your birthday this year?

I traveled to a beautiful east coast area near the ocean for some down time with my family. I always wanted to play electric bass and I couldn't believe it, but Jami and her husband Matthew gave me a Fender Electric Bass for my big day. Now I have to learn how to play it.

What music have you been listening to lately?

I'm composing right now, so I'm not listening to anything.

Where are your travels taking you during the summer break?

I'm spending some of the summer near the ocean and some of it in Rochester getting ready for the coming season.

Click here for a full list of the 2011-12 CNB Pops Series.

August 8, 2011

Acclaimed Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Perform with RPO in January 2012!

Itzhak Perlman
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is proud to announce that the reigning virtuoso of the violin - Itzhak Perlman - will perform with the Orchestra on Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 3:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre! The RPO's incoming Music Director, Arild Remmereit, will conduct this special afternoon concert featuring Perlman performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and up-close pit seats will be available.

Beloved for his charm and humanity as well as his talent, Perlman is treasured by audiences throughout the world who respond not only to his remarkable artistry, but also to the way he communicates the irrepressible joy of making music. Use this link to find out more about Itzhak Perlman and watch a video of him performing at the Presidential Inauguration. This concert promises to be an extraordinary experience - one you won't want to miss!

Tickets go on sale to RPO subscribers and donors (who contribute $75 or more annually) during Subscriber/Donor Appreciation Weeks, starting Monday, August 15. Then, any remaining tickets will be available for sale to the general public beginning on Monday, August 29. Ticket prices will start at $35.*

If you are not already an RPO subscriber or donor, there is still time to purchase a season ticket package or donate so you can have the chance to purchase the best seats before Perlman tickets go on sale to the public. Click here for more information about subscribing to the RPO's 2011-2012 Season, and use this link to find out about donating.

* Due to the high demand for this concert, no discounts will be accepted for Itzhak Perlman tickets.

August 1, 2011

Q & A with Arild Remmereit on the 2011-2012 Season

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2011-12 season promises to be a historic event and an exhilarating journey as Arild Remmereit takes to the stage for his inaugural season as RPO Music Director. For his first season with the RPO, Arild has selected an exciting mix of classic masterworks and new musical discoveries. We had a chance to speak with Arild about the upcoming concerts, his musical background, and more.

RPO: Congratulations on becoming our new Maestro! Throughout your programming you highlight the works of women composers, and we also will be joined by guest artists from the Eastman School of Music. Bravo! What inspired you?

ARILD: Thank you! I have a passion for discovering great works that move me and have, for different reasons, not yet become part of the standard repertoire; I believe the works spread throughout the 2011-12 season can do just that. I am eager to share this passion with audiences and musicians who I am confident will enjoy the experience as well. This is what I mean by “creating classics.” I also wanted to honor the significant role Rochester played in the women’s rights movement. And what better way to do that than through music! As for Eastman, it is simply one of the world’s great music schools with an incredibly rich tradition. The chance to forge new links with such an amazing institution—and to collaborate closely with its world-class students and faculty—was irresistible.

RPO: You’re also bringing us Mahler’s “Resurrection” for the first time in more than 25 years. How excited are you to re-introduce us?

ARILD: Yes! I am thrilled. I love Mahler’s music because it expresses such a wide range of emotions and ideas so powerfully. I have always felt a strong connection to his music. When I learned the RPO did not perform Mahler regularly, it seemed like an exciting opportunity for Rochester, and I hope audiences will become as enraptured by this magical music as I am.

RPO: How did conducting become your passion?

ARILD: I started piano lessons at age six and performed professionally as a boy soprano around Norway. My passion for music and my absolute commitment to being a musician really took off when I was allowed to buy myself a pair of those 1970s platform shoes and an electric guitar! I was 12 years old. After a few years I joined a band with some older kids, playing keyboards. What I had learned in piano lessons as a child then became very useful. My musical taste developed. I was playing more "jazzy" music, and as I was studying voice and piano at the Music Conservatory in Oslo, I was earning my living playing in bands. At some point in my early twenties, I started to feel like focusing my energies in one thing. So I asked myself: If I used all the experience I have gained in different musical settings so far in my life and invested all my energies and hard work into one enterprise, what would it be and what would I do well? Around that time I had a conversation with one of my uncles, Per Brevig. He is the only professional musician in the family and has a very successful career in the U.S. He was principal trombone at the Metropolitan Opera for 30 years and is a teacher at Juilliard and Aspen. He suggested that I check out the conducting program at the Aspen Music Festival and School. At the end of that summer, I concluded that if they (the conducting students) can do it, I can too! And from that point on, I focused on becoming a conductor.

RPO: Speaking of music and childhood, which pieces this season will resonate with younger audiences?

ARILD: That’s very easy to answer. Every single piece in this season is good for younger people and older people and everyone in between.

RPO: Tell us about your batons…your father makes them, right?

ARILD: My father makes all of my batons—hundreds of them—and it’s a wonderful thing. He’s now 82, and I’ve told him, when I’m 82 and still conducting, I don’t want to be in a situation where I run out of batons. He’s still making them!

To see and hear more from Arild Remmereit, the RPO's new Music Director, please visit us online at