January 26, 2015

RPO launches new app

Attention RPO fans with smartphones and tablets -- there’s a new app in town. A couple weeks ago, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra launched a free app that allows users to view the RPO concert calendar, purchase tickets, watch videos, read conductor and musician bios, access RPO social media feeds and get directions and parking information. Patrons can also sign up to receive notifications about special offers and upcoming concerts.

The app was created as part of the RPO's mission to find alternative ways to seamlessly connect the community with the orchestra, guest artists, and all that the RPO has to offer.
While the app provides many of the same services as the RPO website, the app's simple interface is optimized for viewing on mobile devices, a must-have for all modern organizations. After downloading the app, users will see a slideshow of upcoming concerts with touch screen options to purchase tickets and for more info. For orchestra bios, social media feeds and other information, users can select from the touch screen options at the bottom of the screen.

The app was created using InstantEncore, a leading provider of web and mobile technology for the performing arts. Other clients include Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony. 

To download the free app, search "Rochester Philharmonic" at the iTunes app store for Apple devices and at Google Play for Androids. And, don't forget to post a review after you check it out. We look forward to your feedback so we can continue to improve!

January 13, 2015

Meet the composer Part II: Q and A with Lawrence Siegel

composer Lawrence Siegel
Yesterday on the RPO blog, we introduced you to composer Lawrence Siegel, whose original composition Kaddish: I Am Here will be presented by the RPO this Thursday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Joining the RPO will be guest conductor Eugene Tzigane, four acclaimed soloists, and more than 150 vocalists from Rochester Oratorio Society with special guest singers from area temples and other affiliates from the Jewish community. The RPO is honored to present Kaddish to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Allied Forces liberation of the World War II Nazi concentration camps. In the second part of Siegel’s interview, the composer discusses his musical influence and process for crafting this moving work that draws its libretto from the actual words of Holocaust survivors.

Q: Were you influenced by any type of music or composers while writing this piece?
A: There is a touch of Yiddish folk song early in the piece. Certainly the texts determined aspects of the musical style, which shifts to reflect the changing mood of the words. Most of my music could be classified as “post-modern.” I embrace whatever style suits the context I am portraying, moving comfortably between folk and musical theater influences, modernist methods, rock ‘n roll, jazz, Baroque. There’s a bit of all of these in Kaddish.

Q: Did you write music to fit the text (the text here being the interviews with the survivors)
or did you fit the text to music?
A: My vocal music is virtually always shaped by the text; the text comes first and is set with the idea of following its contours and meanings.

Q: What are your goals with Kaddish?
A: It is my hope that hearing Kaddish will engender empathy for the victims of genocide, and help to engage audiences in efforts to end it.

Q: At the end of the day, is Kaddish a story of hope, triumph, or something different altogether?
A: Early in the day, it’s a story of the richness and texture of a world that is no more. In the middle of the day, it is a story of the darkest chapter of human history. At the end of the day, yes, it is a story of hope and resilience, and the triumph of the simple virtues that all of us can share.

Tickets are still available to Kaddish. Visit rpo.org/kaddish for more details.

January 12, 2015

Meet the composer: Q and A with Lawrence Siegel

Lawrence Siegel
Credit: Mark Corliss
When you are in the business of classical music, it's a rare (and exciting) thing to perform the work of a living composer. This week at the RPO, we are pleased to not only present the work of a modern-day composer, but we also are honored to have the composer in town for a series of outreach and community events throughout the week. Award-winning composer and musician Lawrence Siegel has composed for concert music, traditional music, theater, puppet-theatre, and community arts. This Thursday in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre at 7:30 p.m., the RPO will perform Siegel’s Kaddish, an evening-length work that draws its libretto from the actual words of Holocaust survivors.

To learn more about Kaddish and Siegel’s process as a composer, we asked him to participate in a Q and A for the blog. Stay tuned tomorrow for the second part of this interview!

1) What does “Kaddish” mean, and how does the title fit the composition?
Kaddish is an Aramaic word meaning “holy.” In Jewish prayer services, there are a number of Kaddishes. The most well-known, which is colloquially called the Kaddish, is the Mourner’s Kaddish, said by the bereaved as part of their ritual following the loss of a loved one. An interesting thing about the Mourner’s Kaddish is that its words are full of praise for God’s creation. In spite of loss, the focus is on the richness of life.

To call a composition about the Holocaust “Kaddish,” is, of course, to mourn for those who perished in the Holocaust. To do this even though they are not personally known to me, in their millions, is meant to “claim” them, and somehow endeavor to give them peace.

2) Why did you feel compelled to write an original work that draws from the words of Holocaust survivors?
Creating Kaddish represents a confluence of two important factors. Being Jewish, with grandparents who emigrated from the Poland/Lithuania/Russia, I naturally feel a link with the survivors and perished of the Holocaust, even though my family had left a couple of decades before.Whoever they left behind was clearly caught up in it, and although our family did not focus on this, that in itself is an aspect of Jewish life in the 20th century that has had an impact on me. Secondly, for about 25 years, I have written an extensive series of works whose texts are adapted from interviews, oral histories, or listening in on ordinary conversations. These pieces form what I call the Verbatim Project. Kaddish is a verbatim project whose focus is on themes which have been central to my history: a centrality which I only fully have come to recognize in the making of this work.

3) How many survivors and/or their families were interviewed?
I personally interviewed 16 survivors and their families. I shaped the content with specific questions, designed to get at experiences before the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, and how these survivors were able to carry on after the Holocaust. I also listen to testimonies housed at the Fortunoff Archive at Yale University.

4) Were you worried about how the survivors would react to hearing their stories represented?
Yes, naturally, I was concerned about their reactions most of all. They had let me hear very difficult and intimate aspects of themselves. I felt honor bound to try to portray them lovingly.

5) What was your goal in representing their stories?
I think that hearing a few individual stories of the Holocaust is more poignant than hearing a recitation of the horrific statistics. Without exception, those whose stories I have told have been energized and moved by the telling, and this is one of my greatest sources of pride.

Tuesday on the RPO blog:
Siegel on writing music to fit the text, musical influence in Kaddish, and his dream to see Kaddish become a call to action. Stay tuned...

January 10, 2015

'Lunch and Learn' events planned with Kaddish composer

composer Lawrence Siegel
credit: Jonah Siegel
In advance of the RPO's performance of Kaddish: I Am Here at Eastman Theatre on Thursday, January 15, the RPO has teamed up with community partners to host two free “lunch and learn” events with Kaddish composer Lawrence Siegel. Siegel will discuss the process for creating Kaddish, and a question and answer session will follow. Kaddish, commissioned in 2005 by the by the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College (N.H.), draws its libretto from the actual words of Holocaust survivors, mostly primary interviews conducted by the composer himself. The RPO is honored to present this moving work to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Allied Forces liberation of the World War II Nazi concentration camps.

Schedule of Lunch and Learn events
Monday, January 12 from 12-1 p.m. in the Senior Adult Lounge at the JCC of Greater Rochester
(1200 Edgewood Ave., Rochester, 14618)
A kosher lunch will be provided, please RSVP to Barbara Brown, Director of Education by Sunday, January 11 at 5 p.m. (bbrown@rpo.org or 585-399-3635). This event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, January 15 from 12:10-1:05 p.m. in room A-14 in the Nazareth College Arts Center
(4245 East Avenue, Rochester, 14618)
Attendees are asked to bring their own lunch; water, coffee, and cookies will be provided.
No RSVP is necessary. This event is free and open to the public.

Kaddish (KAH-dish), named for the Jewish prayer for the dead, is a one-hour cycle of 15 original songs for orchestra, chorus, and vocal soloists. Dividing the work into three sections – The World Before, The Holocaust, and Tikkun Olam (“Repair the World”) – composer Lawrence Siegel also created the libretto, drawn primarily from his first-hand interviews with Holocaust survivors and sung in Hebrew, English, and German.

For tickets to the performance of Kaddish on Thursday, January 15, visit rpo.org/kaddish
For more information on Kaddish, visit kaddishproject.org