July 30, 2014

Rochester native Ward Stare named RPO's new Music Director

In a much-anticipated celebration with brass fanfare, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra announced Ward Stare as the twelfth music director of the RPO on Tuesday morning at City Hall in Rochester.

Stare is a Rochester native who played trombone in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra at the age of 11 before graduating early from Pittsford Mendon High School and attending The Juilliard School in Manhattan to study trombone. At 18, he was appointed principal trombonist at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he made his conducting debut in 2012. After achieving international accolades as an orchestra leader, most recently as Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, Stare is looking forward to bringing his musical talents back to his hometown.

“This community was an amazing place to grow up in,” said Stare. “Not every musical community is this vibrant and I’m thrilled to be able to return and give back."
Ward Stare
Credit: Halski Studio

At 31 years old, Stare is the youngest person to be appointed music director in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 91 year-history, nearly tying with Maestro Eugene Goosens, who was appointed the RPO’s music director in 1925 at the age of 32. At the press conference, Stare expressed a strong desire to embrace new initiatives in symphonic music and engage everyone in the community, including a younger audience.

“Ward’s astonishing successes early in his career demonstrate his readiness to assume his place in the long line of distinguished conductors who have led the RPO over the past 90 years,” said Charles Owens, President and CEO of the RPO. “It is clear to me that he will be an inspiring leader, a model collaborator, and a game-changing ambassador for the RPO and for symphonic music, embracing the use of technology to deliver our musical product in ways that will be compelling to a new generation of listeners.”

Stare will open the 2014/15 season at Kodak Hall on September 18 with a special RPO Philharmonics concert, featuring guest soloist Midori. In February, Stare will lead the RPO in a special performance of one of Verdi's most poignant operas, La Traviata.

For more information on Ward Stare, including a full biography, visit our announcement page.

July 25, 2014

Pittsford teen performs with the RPO

David Steinhardt
On Thursday, July 24, the RPO performed at Temple B’rith Kodesh (TBK) with special guest, Rochester Philharmonic League Young Artist Special Award Winner David Steinhardt, on classical guitar.

“It is a dream and true honor to play with an orchestra of such renown,” said Steinhardt, who will enter his senior year at Pittsford Mendon High School this fall and plans to study classical guitar in college.

Steinhardt won the Rochester Philharmonic League (RPL)’s 2014 Young Artist Auditions (YAA) Special Award in March, which won him the chance to audition to perform with the RPO. Backed by the orchestra under the baton of Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman, Steinhardt played Vivaldi’s Lute/Guitar Concerto in D Major, RV 93.

The Rochester Philharmonic League was founded in 1929 to support the education and outreach programs of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, including the annual Young Artist Auditions for high school musicians since 1955. In March, 42 high school students from nine counties competed at the Eastman School of Music for a total of $4,500 in cash awards and scholarships. Steinhardt was the sole recipient of the YAA Special Award.

“Many of this competition’s winners have gone on to highly successful careers as performers, music educators, and professionals in other music-related fields,” said RPL President Carol Shulman. “We’re very proud to support our area’s young people in their musical pursuits.”

A scholarship student of Dr. Petar Kodzas at the Eastman Community Music School, Steinhardt is studying toward honors diplomas in Guitar Performance and Music Theory. Last summer, he received the Eastman Community Director's Choice Award, selected from all instruments. From age 11, Steinhardt has participated in numerous competitions and festivals in the US, Canada, and Europe, and was one of 10 youth guitarists from around the world selected to participate in the 2012 Parkening International Youth Guitar Competition in Malibu, California.

Steinhardt and the RPO played to a full crowd of over 300 at TBK. The 20th annual fundraiser concert included a program of classical and pop selections, including compositions by Mozart, Strauss, Elgar and Rimsky-Korsakov, in addition to the Fiddler on the Roof Overture and selections from My Fair Lady.


David Steinhardt, seated to the left of Conductor Michael Butterman, performs
Vivaldi's Lute/Guitar Concerto in D Major with the RPO.

For more information on the Rochester Philharmonic League or the Young Artist Auditions, visit rpo.org/RPL

July 18, 2014

Classical Mystery Tour and RPO “Come Together" to celebrate The Beatles

50 years after four lads from Liverpool made a splash on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Beatles remain one of the most popular and influential musical groups of all time. This Sunday at CMAC, Classical Mystery Tour (an international Beatles tribute band) will return to perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, following their last engagement at the RPO’s 2012 Season Opener Concert under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik.

In honor of the Fab Four, we asked RPO musicians and Guest Conductor Martin Herman for a little “Help” in sharing their favorite Beatles songs and earliest memories of the group that changed the face of popular music forever. For tickets and more information, visit the RPO's website.

Martin Herman, guest conductor for Classical Mystery Tour: Music of the Beatles
Last appearance with the RPO: 2008
Martin Herman

Beatles Song: "Strawberry Fields Forever" for its unique sound and the unusual instrumental colors, which were very experimental in popular music of the time. It shows the Beatles at the peak of their song-writing powers while using the recording studio itself as an instrument.

Beatles Memory: Hearing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" on the radio as a kid. What I remember was how directly powerful those harmonies sounded.  I later realized it was their use of those open perfect intervals like 4ths and 5ths that drove the sound of their vocals. No one else sounded like that.

Bonus Memory: I was lucky enough to see the Beatles perform live at the Atlanta Stadium in 1965. The most powerful musical memory for me from that concert was John Lennon using his elbows to slide up and down the electric piano in "I'm Down". That had a visual and aural effect that I've never forgotten.

Perrin Yang, Violin 1
Years with the RPO: 23
Perrin Yang

Beatles Song: “Eleanor Rigby.”  It's just one of the classic Beatles tunes that incorporates lots of string writing, so as a string player, it's always fun to play.  But the real reason it's one of my favorites right now is that my band, “Right Turn Racer” came up with an updated version!

Beatles Memory: Watching "Yellow Submarine" on TV with my brother and sister when we were kids and thinking it was both cool and strange.

Kathy Kemp, Acting Principal Cellist
Years with the RPO: 37
Kathy Kemp

Beatles Song: “Hey Jude” I like the lyrics, the beat and the tune. It’s always stuck in my head!

Beatles Memory: When they appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” I watched with my cousins and they were all emotional! I couldn't understand their reaction, but I really liked the music!

Stefan Reuss, recently retired Principal Cellist
Years with the RPO: 25
Stefan Reuss

Beatles Song: “Help” and the other songs on that album, like “The Night Before” and “Ticket to Ride” because they were the first Beatles songs I heard.

Beatles Memory: My older sister buying the “Help” record. My parents were reserved [about the music] at first, but then admitted that they were singing rather nicely and in tune! I loved it, even though I didn't want to admit it to my sister or my parents. I still love it, admitting it freely now.

That music was everywhere when I grew up in Germany. I remember the feverish anticipation each time before a new Beatles album came out and how it was always totally different from the previous one.

For a look at the Classical Mystery Tour experience, check out this video!

July 11, 2014

RPO chooses 8 winners for Bravo Book Award

They came, they created, and now eight have conquered.

The RPO is pleased to announce the winners of the 6X6X2014 Bravo Award, in collaboration with the Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo). The 6X6X2014 Bravo Award recognizes exceptional artwork from RoCo’s annual 6X6 exhibit, which invites anyone and everyone to create and submit a piece of artwork on a 6x6 square inch space. The eight winners, chosen anonymously from a collection of over 6,700 pieces, will see their original artwork on the cover of a RPO Bravo book, the official program magazine of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, in the 2014-2015 orchestra season.

This is the third consecutive season that the RPO has showcased work from RoCo’s highly successful show and major fundraiser that began in 2008, officially called the International Small Art Exhibition. All 6x6 artworks are offered anonymously for sale to the public at $20 each. Once bought, the artist is revealed to the seller. Many local celebrities contributed works to the event, which also includes pieces from all over the US and more than 60 countries. Past contributors include nationally renowned Rochester-based sculptor and artist, Albert Paley, and Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, as well as media personalities and community leaders. The 6X6X2014 exhibit runs through July 13.

Throughout the year, we plan to feature the artists behind these chosen works on our blog. For now, here are the winners. Congratulations!

Artwork and Artist's Names (in order of appearance)
1. Birch Grove 1 by Denise Hocking of Rochester (acrylics)
2. Ribbons by Denise Fabrizio of Rochester (watercolor)
3. White Woods by Alice M. Styles of Rochester (watercolor)
4. Untitled by Megan Taylor of Anchorage, AK (mixed media, acrylic paint)
5. Field by Jane Notides-Benzing of Rochester (watercolor on paper)
6. Wishes by Emily Newell of Lancaster, PA (acrylic)
7. Spring by Shana Sundstrom of San Jose, CA (mixed media collage)
8. Move to the Rhythm by Joya Gilchrist of Marletta, NC (acrylic paint and Sharpie)

July 3, 2014

RPO celebrates Independence Day with fanfare and fireworks

Rochester, NY on the 4th of July
Image from cityofrochester.gov
The Stars and Stripes Forever. America the Beautiful. The Star-Spangled Banner. There is something sacred about the anthems of our forefathers, musical compositions that still resonate in our hearts at every sporting event, graduation, parade and military homecoming.

The RPO is back to celebrate Independence Day with two concerts that pay homage to the American classics and patriotic marches we all know and love.

Tonight, the RPO makes a stop at 8 p.m. in Canandaigua for Salute to America at Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (CMAC). Under the baton of guest conductor Michael Berkowitz, the RPO will perform a variety of patriotic anthems, including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

“As in other communities across this nation, the tradition of celebrating our freedom is celebrated with fanfare,” said Kathy Kemp, Assistant Principal Cello of the RPO. “Singing and hearing the music by our own composers and the music that celebrates our history is so important for young and old.”

Tomorrow, the RPO returns to the Main Street Bridge in downtown Rochester for the sixth annual Independence Day concert, once again led by conductor Michael Berkowitz, at 9 p.m. Sponsored by the City of Rochester, this free outdoor concert will be followed by fireworks at 10 p.m.

“I think the presence of the Orchestra at the July 4th festivities stands for the pride of great culture that this city embraces,” said Kemp. “It also reminds everyone what a rich environment we live in and are fortunate bring our families up in.”

Other July concerts to have on your radar:
  • On Wednesday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m., the RPO returns to the shores of Ontario Beach Park for a free pops and patriotic concert in a beautiful outdoor setting, sponsored by Monroe County. County Executive Maggie Brooks will deliver opening remarks and read from the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, featuring musical underscoring excerpted from John Williams' score to the 2012 Oscar-nominated film, Lincoln.
  • The RPO makes a stop at SUNY Geneseo Saratoga Field on Friday, July 11 at 8:30 p.m. for the annual Summer Spectacular with Fireworks.
  • Buzz Lightyear, Nemo and Lightning McQueen will light up from projections on the Kodak Hall stage at Eastman Theatre for Pixar in Concert on Saturday, July 12 at 7 p.m. All your favorite Pixar characters will come to life as stunning visual clips from all 14 films are paired with live music from each film.
  • Experience A Day in the Life with the RPO and Classical Mystery Tour, a world-renowned Beatles tribute band, at CMAC on Sunday, July 20 at 6 p.m. Classical Mystery Tour returns to play with the RPO after performing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at the RPO’s 2012-2013 season opener.
  • The summer’s 20th annual fundraiser for Temple B’rith Kodesh is Thursday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Temple (2131 Elmwood Avenue). RPO Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman will lead the performance, featuring a mix of classical and pop selections as well as a performance by the Rochester Philharmonic League’s Young Artist Auditions Special Award Winner David Steinhardt.
  • Backed by the RPO, multi-platinum-selling singer/songwriter Ben Folds performs his new piano concerto, along with orchestral arrangements of many of his pop hits, at CMAC on Tuesday, July 22 at 8 p.m.
  • On Friday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m., The Fulton Chain of Lakes Performing Arts Council will present An Evening with the Symphony at Arrowhead Park in Inlet, NY.
  • To wrap up a month of July concerts, the RPO will perform at Frontier Field on Saturday, July 26 at 8:30 p.m., following the Red Wings vs. the Indianapolis Indians 6:05 p.m. game. Fireworks will follow the RPO concert, which is free with a game ticket.

For tickets and more information, visit rpo.org