June 22, 2015

Meet the RPO staff: Director of Education Barbara Brown

You have seen our orchestra in action, but what goes on behind the scenes?

We now present to you: The staff members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra! Check out what we do inside and outside the office!

Our series begins with Seattle native Barbara Brown, the RPO’s Director of Education.

What does your job entail? I organize all of the RPO’s education concerts, community engagement concerts, and family concerts.

Barbara Brown
What did you want to be when you grew up?
From the beginning? First, I wanted to be a children’s book author and illustrator, then I wanted to be a paleontologist, then I wanted to be a pilot for Delta Airlines, then I wanted to be an astronaut, and then I wanted to be a saxophonist. Just all over the place!

What did you study in college?
For my undergraduate, I did saxophone performance and biological anthropology, and then I came to the Eastman School of Music for my master’s in saxophone performance.

What is your favorite part of your job?
That I get to be creative with some of the different activities that I get to prepare for the kids.

How have your prior experiences prepared you for the job that you currently have?
They have prepared me in a sort of “distant” way. With this job, there is a lot of multitasking. With having two different majors at one point, there was a lot of juggling to make sure that I had everything organized and that I was all set for everything. Also, the experiences of practicing. I learned a lot of skills that I think are transferable to basically everything in life.

Do you have a certain daily routine that you must abide by, or do you take each day as it comes?
I wouldn’t say that every day is different: things go in cycles. In the fall, I am busy with getting schools registered for concerts. Winter is heavy with all of our field trip concerts, so that’s really my busiest time, to get everything prepared for the concerts. Certain other times of the year are heavy with finding venues for our different community concerts that we do. Right now, I am scheduling a bunch of different ensembles for summer. It really depends more on the time of year what each day looks like.

What advice could you give to our readers that have a sincere interest in working in the nonprofit sector for an arts organization?
I think my advice would be to be as organized as you possibly can. There tend to be a lot of last minute things that happen. Nonprofits usually have small staffs, meaning you’re responsible for a lot of things. The more organized you can be, the better you can manage everything you’re doing, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

What does the RPO mean to you?
It means a lot of things to me, as my husband (RPO clarinet/bass clarinet Andy Brown!) and I are both employed by it. It is our life! I also think the RPO is under appreciated. For a city this size to have an orchestra at this level, I don’t think people always realize what a gift the RPO is to the community!

What has been your happiest, most memorable moment during your time as an RPO staff member?A couple of years ago, I started incorporating visual elements in our Intermediate concert series, which are for grades 4-6.

To prepare for the concert, the students listened to the music and created artwork and poetry based on how they felt inspired by the music. During the concert, their creations were projected onstage behind the orchestra. It's fun for the kids and a great way to get them more engaged in the music!

What is your favorite type of music?

My favorite classical composers are Bach and Mozart, but definitely Bach. If I’m just driving in my car, I like to listen to top 40s. I love pop music.

What concert are you most looking forward to for the RPO’s 2015-16 season and WHY?
Maybe From the Top just because I always wanted to do that as a kid. I never submitted for it, but I always listened to it as a kid and I just thought it was the coolest thing.

Either that or Disney in Concert, because those are songs I grew up listening to. There’s something about bringing back childhood memories that is appealing to me.

Favorite summer activity: reading

Barbara creates and runs pre-concert activities at RPO OrKIDStra concerts!

About the author: Elissa Murphy is the RPO's marketing/development summer intern.
Anticipated for August 2015, Elissa will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in music business and flute performance, with a film studies minor from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

June 18, 2015

RPO Announces Leadership Transition

The RPO announced yesterday that Charles Owens, its President and Chief Executive Officer, will step down from his roles on September 30, 2015. Some of our social media fans alerted us that they were having difficulties accessing the press release on mobile devices, so we have pasted the full text of the release here on our blog.

Note: The full press release is available online at rpo.org/news

Charles Owens will complete his tenure in September 2015; national search to commence

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announced today that Charles Owens, its President and Chief Executive Officer, will step down from his roles on September 30, 2015. Owens, who has been at the Orchestra’s helm since 2007, will leave his post after both Philharmonics and Pops 2015-16 season opening weekends have launched this fall, and will serve as a consultant for the remainder of 2015.

“It has been an honor to serve as President of this world-class Orchestra for most of the past decade,” said Owens. “Our conductors and musicians are extraordinary, and our board, volunteers, patrons, donors and staff are remarkable. I am proud to have accomplished so much together with them over the years. Now that our artistic transition is complete and the visionary Ward Stare is our new Music Director, the time is right for the Orchestra’s next leadership change.”

During his tenure, Owens led a team that implemented many successful and innovative ventures. Most recently, the RPO finished its 2014-15 season with record-breaking ticket sales and ticket revenue growth, and tremendous momentum going into Ward Stare’s inaugural season as Music Director. Owens is known for his commitment to bring major guest artists—such as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Audra McDonald, Video Games Live and others—to Rochester. He has also partnered with several composers to commission new orchestra works for the RPO to perform, as well as overseeing four national recording projects.

“The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been so fortunate to have Charlie’s leadership,” said Dawn Lipson, Chair of the Board of Directors. “He is deeply dedicated to the Orchestra, to our community, and to ensuring a stronger future for the arts. We are saddened by his decision to leave the RPO, but we’re grateful that he has helped to build such a strong foundation for our next President and CEO.”

Under Owens’ leadership, the RPO returned to Carnegie Hall in 2014 for the first time in three decades, and raised nearly a half-million dollars for this milestone performance. Owens’ tenure with the RPO was also highlighted by the many vital and creative partnerships formed with numerous local arts organizations—most notably, the Eastman School of Music, where the RPO served as a fundraising partner for the landmark Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre multi-million dollar renovations and Eastman East Wing expansion. Owens and the RPO have helped make the City of Rochester’s Fourth of July concert an annual destination for tens of thousands who look forward to the Orchestra’s free performance.

A national search for Owens’ successor will begin immediately.

June 9, 2015

Meet the (cover) artist: Emily Newell

These last few weeks at the RPO have been busy as we wrapped up the 2014-15 season. Multiplatinum recording artist Michael Feinstein closed our Pops season with a tribute to the music of George and Ira Gershwin, and the Rochester Oratorio Society and Bach Children’s Chorus paid homage to Carl Orff’s hauntingly beautiful Carmina Burana. All this excitement and alas, dear readers, we neglected to post another in our monthly series of “meet the (cover) artist” for our May/June program. Here you go!

Emily Newell, 17 of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, designed the final cover in our main 2014-15 season. Newell is a winner of the RPO Bravo Award, granted to eight artists whose work was displayed at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center 6X6X2014 Exhibition. Congratulations to Emily!

Do you have other experience as an artist?
My true art form is dance. I have been a dancer since I was three years old. I dance at Lititz Academy of Dance, with concentration in classical ballet, lyrical, jazz, modern, and contemporary ballet. I am also on my High School’s Dance Team at Manheim Township.

Emily's "Wishes" on the RPO program!

How did you hear about the RoCo 6X6 exhibit?

I heard about participating in the 6x6 exhibit from my grandmother, Lucille Newell. On visits to Rochester, N.Y., my grandmother always likes to find fun, interesting things for us to do. Several members of our family participated in the 6x6 exhibit.

How did you develop the concept for your art?
It was a long winter and I was looking forward to a beautiful summer and that image came to mind.

What medium did you use in your artwork?
I used acrylics and a sponge.

What inspires your creativity?
Listening to music! I love Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, One Direction, and Adele.

What theme(s) are you trying to convey through your 6X6 piece? A beautiful summer day.

What is your favorite style(s) of music? I enjoy listening to all music. Pop, Broadway, acoustic etc.

Stay tuned to the RPO blog in July for the story behind the art/artist for our summer season cover!

Emily Newell