November 30, 2012

A Statement from Jeff Tyzik

As many of you know, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra board of directors decided on Wednesday that 2012-13 will be Arild Remmereit’s final season as music director of the RPO.

We wanted to share comments from Jeff Tyzik, the RPO’s Principal Pops Conductor since 1994 and a Rochester Music Hall of Fame inductee:

"In my 20 years as a member of the artistic leadership of the RPO, I have been with this orchestra through many difficult times. Every organization undergoes changes, and I know that the RPO will weather its current difficulties to emerge as a more unified, stronger Rochester institution. I have complete confidence in our board leadership, staff, and musicians to deal effectively with our internal matters.

Here in Rochester, we are blessed with a great orchestra that has always played—and will continue to play—at the highest artistic level. The RPO has a bright future as a cherished part of our community, and I thank you for continuing to support us."



November 9, 2012

Fifty years of James Bond

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, the RPO presents Classic Bond on Friday and Saturday, February 15 and 16, 2013, at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, released today (November 9, 2012) in the U.S., prompted us to ask RPO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik for his Top Five favorite James Bond themes…

1.      The James Bond Theme (Monty Norman):  This is from the very first Bond film in 1962, Nr. No, and remains the iconic, evocative, signature theme for the entire franchise.  Frequent Bond composer John Barry arranged the piece, and claimed he wrote it as well.  But Monty Norman won several law suits against publishers, and continues to receive royalties from the work. 
Hear it here: Bond Theme

2.      Thunderball (John Barry & Don Black, sung by Tom Jones):  After United Artists scrapped John Barry’s & Leslie Bricusse’s original theme entitled “Mr. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” because they wanted the theme to have the same title as the film, Barry teamed up with Don Black to write “Thunderball” for the 1965 Bond film. Tom Jones fainted in the recording booth after singing the song’s final, high note, of which he said:  “I closed my eyes and held the note for so long that when I opened my eyes, the room was spinning.”
Hear it here:

 3.      Nobody Does It Better (Marvin Hamlisch & Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Carly Simon):  Written and recorded for the 1977 Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, it was the first Bond theme to be titled differently than the name of the film since Dr. No, although the phrase “the spy who loved me” is included in the lyrics. The song was Carly Simon’s longest-running hit, and received an Oscar nomination for Best Song.

4.      Live and Let Die (Paul & Linda McCartney):  Written for the 1973 film of the same name, this was the best-selling Bond theme ever at the time.  It reunited McCartney with Beatles producer George Martin, who both produced the song and arranged the orchestral break. Originally, film producer Harry Saltzman wanted an African American female to record the song for the movie, but McCartney would only the allow the song to be used if Wings performed it. Saltzman, who had previously rejected the chance to produce A Hard Day’s Night, decided not to make the same mistake again and agreed. Both the original version and the Guns N’ Roses remake were nominated for Grammys.
Hear it here: and Let Die

5.      Goldfinger (John Barry, Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse, sung by Shirley Bassey):  Written for the third Bond film in 1964, “Goldfinger” is said to have started the tradition of Bond theme songs being from the pop genre or using popular artists. The piece is a favorite of frequent Bond composer John Barry, who said it was “the first time I had complete control, writing the score and the song.” The musical score, in keeping with the film's theme of gold and metal, makes heavy use of brass and metallic chimes, and is described as “brassy and raunchy” with "a sassy sexiness to it.” Hear it here:



November 6, 2012

Cry a Little, Then Dance: Copland's Clarinet Concerto

Aaron Copland knew the first movement of his clarinet concerto was a real tear jerker: "I think it will make everyone weep," he predicted to his friend Victor Kraft after completing the piece in 1948.

Serge Koussevitsky must have thought the music to be pretty powerful too, because in the summer of 1950 he asked Copland to orchestrate the concerto's first movement as an elegy for strings. Nothing came of that idea--Copland shot it down rather quickly--and in November Benny Goodman finally premiered the complete concerto that he had commissioned from Copland almost four years earlier. (In the video above, the two team up with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1976.)

With a jazzy, jaunty second movement, the Clarinet Concerto--which Rochester Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant performs on November 8 and 10 with the RPO--was a big hit on the New York City Ballet's 1951-52 season as the music for Jerome Robbins's Pied Piper. It was also part of NYCB's summer 1952 European tour, where critics labeled its spirited nature as distinctly American.

The Rochester Philharmonic performs Copland's Clarinet Concerto with Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant as soloist on November 8 and 10, part of a program that includes music by Jeff Tyzik, Michael Daugherty, and Leonard Bernstein. 

November 1, 2012

Ron Spigelman on Ron Spigelman

Ron Spigelman
Read about this weekend's guest conductor.

The first coherent notes that I strung together as a trumpet student were fragments of songs on the radio, movie themes and jazz standards my first teacher taught me. He didn't read music until later in his life, and his philosophy was to teach me by ear and by logic. I remember that for him it was about the melody, the song, and the words (although at age 7 I was still learning those too!). "Try to follow the melody, let it lead you," he would say.

My first ensemble experience was in a jazz band. I miss playing in one, but I don't know if my chops could handle it now! After playing in youth orchestras and studying at the Royal Academy of Music, classical music had become my life, but it was those jazz songs that I would find myself whistling. As a conductor, I dreamed of conducting the great works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler, and I have been lucky enough to do that. I have never, however, felt more lucky than to conduct the music of Gershwin, Porter, Basie, and Ellington, and to work with artists such as Audra McDonald, Marvin Hamlisch, Arturo Sandoval, and Peter, Paul, and Mary.