November 24, 2014

Meet the (cover) artist: Denise Fabrizio

Denise Fabrizio's winning art, "Ribbons"
Welcome to the second installment of "Meet the (cover) artist," a series of monthly blog posts that highlight the artist and artwork featured on the RPO’s program books, known as Bravo. These eight works of art were chosen anonymously from a collection of almost 7,000 at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s (RoCo) annual 6X6 exhibition, which invites anyone to create a piece of art on a six-by-six inch square space, using whatever medium they prefer. Last month, we introduced you to Denise Hocking, a professor and scientist at the University of Rochester, whose acrylic painting of birch trees in the fall graced our Oct./Nov. issue.

For the holiday season, the RPO selected a colorful watercolor painting of ribbons, reminiscent of the ribbons that dancers use to tie on their pointe shoes, in honor of the annual performances of  The Nutcracker, onstage this weekend at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. For 16 years, Rochester City Ballet and the RPO have teamed up to present the city’s only full-length, live music performance of Tchaikovsky's classic holiday ballet. Fabrizio's "Ribbons" honors the Orchestra's relationship with the Rochester City Ballet and symbolizes holidays at the RPO!

Stay tuned next month for more behind-the-scenes on the Bravo program art!

Denise Fabrizio of Rochester, N.Y.

Occupation: Retired teacher, artist

How did you hear about the RoCo 6X6 exhibit? I have been a member of RoCo for years and have previously entered the 6X6 exhibit.

How did you develop the concept for your art? I was doing watercolor still life and added a few ribbons to the composition. That evolved into all ribbons with maybe one object.

What inspires your creativity? Color, light, and shadow.

What theme(s) are you trying to convey through your 6X6 piece? As in all the ribbon pieces, I am trying to use an everyday object in a way that creates an almost abstract composition.

What is your favorite style(s) of music?
Eclectic musical tastes- rock, reggae, Latin, some hip hop.
Denise Fabrizio of Rochester, N.Y.

November 12, 2014

Instagram Contest: Video Games Live at the RPO

Mario, Pac-Man, Link, Lara Croft—who is your favorite video game character? From now until next Wednesday, we want to see pictures of you or your child dressed dressed as your favorite video game character for a chance to win free tickets and more to Video Games LiveTM on Friday, November 21 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

In case you haven’t heard of it already, Video Games LiveTM (VGL) is a multimedia concert experience created and produced by Tommy Tallarico, an award-winning video game composer and musician. Featuring music from the greatest video games of all time, the event will include a pre-concert Guitar Hero contest and the winners will get to play the game onstage with the RPO during the concert! A post-concert panel discussion moderated by JP Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games, will include Tallarico, Erik Behr, RPO principal oboe and avid gamer, Al Biles, RIT professor in the School of Interactive Games and Media, and Pete Johnson, video game music and composition designer at Workinman.

The first prize winner of our Instagram photo contest will win four tickets to Video Games LiveTM and a signed poster by Tommy Tallarico. The second prize winner will receive two tickets and a signed poster. A third runner-up will receive a signed poster.

The rules are simple—all you have to do is follow @RochesterPhilharmonic on Instagram, post a photo of you or your child dressed as a video game character, tag it @RochesterPhilharmonic and hashtag it #RPOlovesVGL. That’s it! Winners will be chosen anonymously on Wednesday, November 19 at 3 PM (EST). The RPO will contact the winners via Instagram to claim their prizes!

Detailed Rules
1. Follow @RochesterPhilharmonic on Instagram
2. Submit a photo of you or your child's best video game character costume on Instagram, tag it @RochesterPhilharmonic and hashtag it #RPOlovesVGL
3. No inappropriate pictures. Keep it clean!
4. All entries must be received by Wednesday, November, 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM (EST)
5. A number will be assigned to your photo in the order received
6. Three winners will be randomly drawn on November, 19 2014 by 3:00 PM (EST)
7. We will contact the winner(s) via Instagram to claim their prize!
8. Enter as many times as you would like, but each entry should be a different costume!
9. Good luck!!!

To RSVP to Video Games LiveTM, visit

Tickets: $15-$92, visit


November 5, 2014

An artist's view: Humpherys on Rachmaninoff

Have you ever wondered how a performer feels about the music they are performing? In this new series on the RPO blog, we will go behind the scenes to feature conductors, musicians, and guest performers. We’ll learn how these talented people connect with the piece they are performing and share fun facts about the composers and the compositions.

Tonight and Saturday, Douglas Humpherys will perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1. We asked RPO Marketing Intern Matthew Langford to interview Humpherys about the Russian composer and his famous first concerto. Humpherys is professor and chair of the piano department at the Eastman School of Music and the founder/director of the biannual Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition, among many other accolades. He has also traveled to Russia multiple times, both as a soloist and also as an adjudicator for the Rachmaninoff International Young Artists’ Piano Competition in Novgorod, Russia.

"All great music is generated by the culture from which it comes," said Humpherys. "When I visited Russia for the first time, I felt as though I was hearing Rachmaninoff in a new way – as if it was somehow different just by virtue of standing on “Russian soil”. During the last few days in Rochester with the cooler, fall weather, I keep thinking about Rachmaninoff’s birthplace, close to Novgorod (a sister-city to Rochester by the way). What a great combination of cold Russian weather and the warm, passionate character of this music that reflects such a profound musical tradition.”

Q and A with Douglas Humpherys
By Matthew Langford
Douglas Humpherys

Tell us about your past experience with Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1.
I learned it when I was young and first played it with orchestra when I was 21. I have played it several times since then, but it has been nice to bring it back after some time away from it. Much like making a fresh acquaintance with an old friend.

What is your favorite thing about Rachmaninoff's music?
What everybody always says about Rachmaninoff; he writes exceptionally beautiful melodies and wonderful harmonies! I think to really appreciate Rachmaninoff, you have to have a visceral reaction to the music. He was such a phenomenal pianist and wrote so well for the instrument that, as a pianist, much of my appreciation of his music is felt in my hands. At a deeper level, Rachmaninoff had tremendous intuition for writing long, linear ideas, was a great orchestrator, and created real structural unity in large-scale forms.
Sergei Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff composed his first concerto in 1891 in Russia at age 18. He revised this concerto multiple times, first in 1917 and then once more in 1919. Do you think his immigration from Russia to America in 1917 influenced his revisions?
Even before Rachmaninoff immigrated to America, he had spent considerable time there as a soloist. I don’t really hear much of an American influence in his Concerto No. 1, but there may be some influence in some of his later works, like the Concerto No. 4, or the Corelli Variations. After all, Rachmaninoff did spend some time living in Beverly Hills. On the other hand, Rachmaninoff’s own personal harmonic language was always saturated with 9th chords – I don’t think that is attributable to American jazz.

Why play Concerto No. 1 when Rachmaninoff's second and third concertos are so well known?
I think about the fact that this concerto is Rachmaninoff’s Opus 1 and it makes me want to think about other great first opuses. I think of the first three Beethoven piano trios, the Brahms Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Major, and the Berg Piano Sonata. All of these wonderful pieces were the composers’ first opuses. Sometimes first opuses can be very profound. In this case with Rachmaninoff, there is a sense of youthfulness in it, and an enthusiasm combined with a heartfelt quality of being willing to put everything out on the page and into the air for everyone to hear. I think it has some of Rachmaninoff’s most beautiful melodies in it as well as some very complex, dense, lush harmonies.

Listen to Rachmaninoff play the first movement of Concerto No. 1

About the author
Matthew Langford is an educator and trumpeter from Orlando, Florida who enjoys making and sharing music with diverse audiences around the world. He is currently pursuing a master's in music education from the Eastman School of Music.