July 27, 2015

Meet the RPO staff: Director of Ticketing and Sales Ed Solorzano

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

Our series continues with Syracuse native Ed Solorzano, the RPO’s Director of Ticketing and Sales.

Ed Solorzano
Could you go into description of what your work consists of at the RPO?
I am in charge of anything ticket-related at the venue. This goes for both the RPO and the Eastman School of Music. Anything from hiring and training box office employees to staffing concerts and managing box office/venue policies and the finances it encompasses.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
My first dream revolved around sports. I played almost every sport under the sun, and I continued sports through high school and into college doing rec. level stuff.

What did you study in college?
I was always intrigued by sports, and wanted to be involved on the business side of it. That is what led me to majoring in sports management at St. John Fisher College. When I started in 2004, it was a new field that wasn't fully tapped into just yet.

In what ways did your prior education prepare you for the RPO?
As a whole, my prior education helped me to get comfortable with speaking in front of people and speaking to people. With doing a lot of presentations and public speaking, interviews were a huge strength for me. Having to go through and talk to people one-on-one helped tremendously. In the sports world, or almost any organization you go to, you start in sales. That could contain a lot of cold calling and customer service, but you put yourself out there and talk to someone. Having this background proved very beneficial in my career.

How did you transition from Sports industry to the Music industry?
People don't think sports and music would be similar, but they are both entertainment and there are a lot of similarities.

After college, I pursued a job offer to sell tickets at CMAC, an outdoor amphitheater in Canandaigua. I was able to work the software system and pick up the operation as a whole really quickly. After that, I worked in customer service at the Auditorium Theatre. It was while working there that I noticed, and made the subsequent decision to not limit myself to just working for sports teams. Overall, my career goal has always been to keep my options open and go where I feel I can have a positive impact on the organization; working for a non-profit offers another level of satisfaction knowing that I am not only helping our patrons, but helping advocate for the arts.
Ed in Bobblehead form!

What has been your most memorable moment at the RPO, thus far?
I have been with the RPO since October 2014. My ultimate goal is making sure our customers and patrons can get into an event without any issues. We want to make sure that everyone is satisfied and it ultimately starts from the day they order a ticket, to when they walk out of the venue.

The coolest, most memorable thus far has been our season opener event, which took place last February. We did a season preview for our upcoming series. It was a way to market our upcoming series to our patrons and the community in a way that not very many orchestras do. It shows the audience what’s to come in the upcoming year.

This was the first time the RPO has ever done something like this. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and I felt that the turnout was both a huge undertaking and a huge success.

What is your favorite type of music?
My favorite type of music was (and still is) hip-hop. However, I have an appreciation for all genres of music - ranging from bluegrass to jazz, jam bands, and everything in between. Music is truly objective and I love being able to experience new genres. And as weird as this sounds, while I enjoy hip-hop, one of my favorite bands is O.A.R.

Which RPO concert(s) are you most looking forward to in 2015-16 and why?
Out of the entire series, I think Home Alone would be really cool. I grew up watching it, and I think it would be really cool to see the orchestral accompaniment to the movie. I grew up playing video games, but never got into Final Fantasy. Video Games Live last year was really cool, so I’m looking forward to seeing FF.

Any favorite summer activities?
I like to hang out at the beach and play sports, but I especially like running races. I like pushing myself, for the health side of it. I want to live to be 150. I just ran a 15k (9.3 miles) for the second year in a row. I will be running a 20k (12 miles) by the end of summer.

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.

July 20, 2015

Bravo to retiring musicians: Jan Angus and Jennifer Burch

This feature on retiring RPO musicians is currently running in the summer Bravo program. To see this feature in print, pick up a copy of Bravo at the RPO in Perinton concert on Saturday, July 25 or at the Nazareth College concert on Sunday, July 26. Both concerts are free to attend, but tickets are required for Nazareth (call 585-454-2100).

For Jan Angus and Jennifer Burch, who are retiring from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of the 2014-15 season, retirement doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the music.

“I’m not really retiring, I’m too busy,” said Jan Angus, who came to the RPO as third flute and piccolo in 1979. “I’m looking forward to having more time to focus on teaching. When I stop playing in the orchestra, I’ve thought about writing a book about my flute teaching methods.”

Angus, a master’s graduate of the Eastman School of Music, has been balancing full time work at the Eastman Community Music School with playing in the orchestra. She is a senior instructor in flute at Eastman and also coordinator of the Eastman Pathways Program, a scholarship program for students in the Rochester City School District.

She is collaborating with RPO second flute Joanna Bassett to bring flutists from all over the world to Washington, D.C., this August for the National Flute Association Convention. She also has taught at Hochstein School of Music and Dance and served on the faculties of Nazareth College, SUNY Geneseo, and SUNY Brockport.

“I’ve never been one to promote myself,” said Angus, who has played flute since she was a child in California. “With time and experience comes maturity, and I have learned from my years in the orchestra that it’s not about you, it’s about the product.”

In addition to teaching and playing recitals, Angus is looking forward to having more time to travel with her husband, RPO third horn David Angus, and also spending time with their two grown children and grandson.

Second horn player Jennifer Burch came to the RPO in 1992, direct from a seven-year appointment with the Richmond Symphony, where she played both third and principal positions.

“I felt from the beginning that Rochester was my home,” said Burch, who grew up in Bath, New York, and graduated from the University of Michigan. “There is a tremendous amount of culture here.”

Burch plans to continue teaching at the Eastman School of Music, where she is an assistant professor of horn. This summer, she will return to teach and perform at the MasterWorks Festival in Indiana. She also has taught at Nazareth College, Roberts Wesleyan College, and Hochstein.

“I have really valued my years here at the RPO and nothing will fill that void,” said Burch, who spoke fondly of the camaraderie in her section. “I’ve had a wonderful career and I want to pass that on to others. I love seeing my students thrive.”

In addition to teaching, Burch plans to get involved in volunteer and ministry work. She also is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Bob Marshall, her three step-children and three grandchildren.

Congratulations to Jan and Jennifer on your years with the RPO! Send your well-wishes to Jan Angus and Jennifer Burch on Facebook or Twitter (@RochesterPhil) with #bravoJan or #bravoJennifer.

July 13, 2015

Meet the RPO Staff: Administrative & Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Miller

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 continues with Kathy Miller, the RPO’s Administrative & Volunteer Coordinator.

What does your job entail?
The majority of my position is working with all the volunteers. I do the coordination and the recruitment of all of the volunteers. I also schedule the front desk volunteers.

Is there a daily routine that you abide by each day?
In some cases, yes. During the concert season, I am in contact with the volunteers on a regular basis. I schedule our Box Seat concierge volunteers. Dave Meyer (our House Manager) schedules volunteers to usher events. He and I work in partnership. The Box Seat concierges volunteers get to know the patrons really well. They are still considered ushers, but they have a little more responsibility

If something comes up with a volunteer’s schedule where they can no longer attend their assigned night, I find other volunteers. If we have a full house concert, we need all hands on deck to help out in order for things to run smoothly.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I have my bachelor’s degree in fine arts (University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada). I originally wanted to teach ceramics and sculpture, but the market was flooded with art teachers at that time.

I pretty much carried my portfolio under my arm. I worked as an artist for a couple of years, and then stayed at home for 10 years with my children. Then, I freelanced and eventually became employed with the University of Rochester’s Alumni Association as manager of print production.

How did you become interested in the nonprofit organization career path?
Through my job at the U of R, I became very interested in the fundraising and development side of this type of career. At the time, I met a woman who ran a nonprofit agency. She gave me my chance. Five years later, I ended up as the development coordinator of the Lifetime Assistance Foundation, where I did everything from special events planning to fundraising and to public relations. At that time, I worked very closely with volunteers.

What is one piece of advice you could give to our readers that are looking into getting involved in a nonprofit organization?

Volunteer at everything you can. This will give you tons of experience and exposure to this particular career field. If you enjoy writing, get involved and write articles. In development, if you could be as well-rounded as possible, and try to just experience as much as you can, it will really lay that ground work for your career. Grab as much as you can out of each experience you’re able to get. Whether it is PR or grant writing, they all sort of intertwine together. Get to know how they fit and you will gain a better understanding of each project thrown your way.

What is your most memorable or proud moment that you have experienced so far at the RPO?
Mainly, the interaction with the volunteers.
My favorite statement is “There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” (Jim Doolittle) because I think that is the essence of volunteering; that you do it because you believe in that particular organization.
This particular volunteer base is so passionate about music and art and the organization. They are just a great group to work with. It made me realize how much of the community embraces the RPO.

What is your favorite type of music?
I like a lot of different styles of music, particularly jazz and country music. Jeff Tyzik’s music is great, too!

Out of the 2015-16 season, which concert(s) are you most looking forward to, and why?

I am looking forward to the Pops Season in general, but more particularly the Holiday ones. It is just my time of year, when Christmas rolls around. I love every aspect of the season. There’s nothing that can bring the spirit of the holidays more. I am looking forward to what they are going to do with Home Alone. The second one I am looking forward to would be the Journey performance, for sure.

What is your favorite outdoor summer activity?

Anything outside, really. My husband and I have a kayak, so that is a lot of fun. I also love bicycling and gardening. 

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.

July 9, 2015

Young musicians take the stage this weekend: Part 2

Yesterday we introduced you to three high-school musicians who will perform in the Rochester Philharmonic League's annual Young Artists Recital, featuring the region's top musicians in the categories of male and female vocal, strings, piano, and instrumental. The Rochester Philharmonic League is the RPO's leading support organization focused on music education and fostering musical talent in young people.

Join the RPL at a free recital celebrating these young musicians at 7:30 PM on Sunday, July 12 at Kilbourn Hall in the Eastman School of Music (please note that this performance does not include the RPO). In the second part of this blog series, we will introduce you to the other musicians who will perform this weekend: David Steinhardt, classical guitar; Holden Turner, baritone; and Vivian Yu, piano. Don't miss seeing them onstage this weekend!

David Steinhardt, classical guitar
2015 YAA award: Aldridge-Tinker Scholarship for Instrumentalists
Will perform: Koyunbaba, C. Domeniconi; Asturias, I. Albeniz; Sonata for cello and guitar, R. Gnattali
David Steinhardt

As a scholarship student of Dr. Petar Kodzas at the Eastman Community Music School, David Steinhardt is studying toward honors diplomas in guitar performance and music theory. In 2013 and 2014, Steinhardt received the Eastman Community Director’s Choice Award, selected from all instruments. From age 11, he has participated in numerous competitions and festivals in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He currently holds faculty positions at the Kanack School of Music and Lyric Arts Academy, as well as teaches privately and through master classes. He recently graduated from Pittsford-Mendon High School.

Holden Turner, baritone
2015 YAA awards: Jan DeGaetani Scholarship for Vocalists and Nobel Hirsh Award for Male Vocalists
Will perform: Per La Gloria D’adorarvi, Giovanni Bononcini; Youth and Love, Ralph Vaughan Williams; El Cancion Andaluza: El Pan de Ronda, Manuel De Falla; Les Berceaux, Gabriel Faure
Holden Turner

Holden Turner recently graduated from Rush-Henrietta High School, and will be attending Ithaca College in the fall to major in music education and vocal performance. He has been studying voice with Mario Marinez since November 2014.

Q: How old were you when you started singing, and who (or what) inspired you to start?
A: I started singing at an early age but I didn't join a choir until the 4th grade. No one really inspired me to be involved in music. When I did finally join a choir, the teachers would really push me to do more so that is what really inspired me to continue on in music as a career.

Q: How did you select your repertoire for this concert?
A: The repertoire I have chosen are songs that I've learned throughout my high school career, and they all have great messages that I feel are very special.

Q: What are your favorite activities outside the practice room?
A: My activities outside of the practice room consists of more musical activity. I play percussion, and I love conducting. I had the opportunity to conduct my school orchestra at Disney World and my school choir in Boston. 

Vivian Yu, piano
YAA awards: Ness Award for Pianists and Special Award
Schedule repertoire: Preludes Op. 23, No. 4 and No. 7, Sergei Rachmaninoff
Vivian Yu

Pianist Vivian Yu will be going into her senior year at Pittsford Mendon High School this fall. As recipient of the YAA Special Award, Yu will also perform with the RPO at Temple B'rith Kodesh on July 9.

Q: How old were you when you started performing, and who (or what) inspired you to start?
A: When I was little, I had an electric keyboard and I was always intrigued by it and would play around with it every day. I began to compose music on it at age five, so my mom took me to piano lessons with Elier Suárez, who has been my piano teacher up to today. I have been growing up with music ever since and it really has changed my life. From the Junior All-Star Competitions to being able to perform with the RPO, I have learned to appreciate music and express myself through music, connect with people through music, and gain confidence in myself while discovering my own potential.

Q: What is your process for selecting repertoire?
A: I sometimes offer suggestions for my repertoire. My piano teacher always selects the very best pieces that I love and are the most suitable for me.

Q: What are your favorite activities to do outside of the practice room?
A: What I love the most is to spend time with my family and friends. There is nothing better than creating funny and lasting memories with people close to you. I also like to draw, write, and improvise music on the piano for fun. When I have time, I like to watch movies, travel, and try many different kinds of food as well.

July 8, 2015

Young musicians take the stage this weekend: Part 1

The region’s best young musicians will take the stage at Kilbourn Hall this Sunday for the annual Young Artists in Concert recital.

Now in its seventh year, the Young Artists recital features winners from the Young Artist Auditions, a scholarship competition held each spring by the Rochester Philharmonic League. The Rochester Philharmonic League is the RPO’s leading support organization focused on music education and fostering musical talent in young people. The annual Young Artist auditions draw high school musicians from a nine-country area competing for awards in the categories of male and female vocal, strings, piano, and instrumental.

The following musicians have been selected to perform at the 2015 Young Artists recital: Catherine Caton, harp; Joy Krasner, marimba; Megan Ormsbee, mezzo-soprano; David Steinhardt, classical guitar; Holden Turner, baritone; and Vivian Yu, piano. In this two-part series, we will introduce you to these young musicians to learn more about their love of music!

Don't miss seeing them in concert this Sunday, July 12 in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music at 7:30 PM. This performance is free to attend.

Catherine Caton, harp
2015 YAA awards: Helen and George Greer Instrumental Award
Will perform: Feerie: Prelude et Danse; Marcel Lucien Tournier
Catherine Caton

Catherine Caton is a harp student who has been studying under Dr. Nan Gullo Richmond Bassett for 11 years. She also studies clarinet with RPO Clarinet/Bass Clarinet Andrew Brown. She is principal harpist of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO), as well as principal clarinetist in the Spencerport High School Wind Ensemble, where she will enter her senior year this fall. She plans on pursuing music and biology in college.

Q: How old were you when you started playing harp, and who (or what) inspired you to start?
A: Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in both the harp and music in general. My oldest sister Emily is also a harpist and she got me involved in lessons when I was four. Hearing Emily practice and perform immediately grabbed my attention, and I have loved the harp ever since. She, along with my current teacher Dr. Bassett, encouraged me to perform and get involved in music at a young age.

Q: How much time do you put towards practicing?
A: On the average day, I usually practice between two and three hours. I love practicing very early in the morning before my family is up because the peace in the morning brings fresh focus to my playing. My practicing needs change based upon what I am working on, but I tend to practice in increments throughout the day starting with one session in the early morning, in the afternoon, and one before bed.

Q: Do you consider any composer to stand out from the rest?
A: Although I have many favorite composers, my absolute favorite composer to listen to is Camille Saint-Saëns. I love the variety in his compositions, but I also love how you can always tell a Saint-Saëns piece when you hear one. The works of Saint-Saëns have to power to evoke many emotions within me, which is why he is ultimately my favorite composer to listen to.

Joy Krasner, marimba
2015 YAA awards: Helen and George Greer Instrumental Award (runner-up)
Joy Krasner
Will perform: Sonata No. 1 in G Minor (Presto), J.S. Bach; Nature Boy, Clair Omar Musser

Krasner has studied percussion for seven years and has been a student of Ruth Cahn at the Eastman Community Music School for three years. She has performed in the Brighton High School Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble, Eastman percussion ensemble, Drum Joy, and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In the fall, she will attend Hamilton College as an English major and will continue studying percussion and performing with the orchestra and jazz ensemble.

Q: How old were you when you started playing marimba, and who (or what) inspired you to start?
A: I began studying piano at the age of four with Patricia Hanson at Eastman. While I studied piano seriously, I always enjoyed playing African drums in my free time, and eventually, I was introduced to percussion in fourth grade. I grew passionate about percussion and during my sophomore year of high school I began taking lessons with Ruth Cahn at Eastman.

Q: Do you have a favorite composition that you like to perform?
A: One of my favorite compositions to perform is Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G Minor (the piece I will be playing!). It feels very special that I am able to interpret an artist’s composition on the marimba when I was most used to hearing and playing Bach’s pieces on the piano.

Q: Do you collaborate with other artists in the area? What other musical groups have you recently participated in?
A: Throughout the years I’ve participated in the RPYO, as well as the Eastman Drum Joy Percussion Ensemble. I also played drum set in the Eastman Youth Jazz Orchestra for one year. Additionally, I played in jazz groups at my high school as well as a student-made band outside of school.

Megan Ormsbee, mezzo-soprano
Megan Ormsbee

2015 YAA awards: Tessa Martin Award for Female Vocalist
Will perform: When I Have Sung My Songs, Charles Ernest; Tourjours Op. 21, No. 2, Gabriel Faure; Die Mainacht Op. 43, No. 2, Johannes Brahms

Megan Ormsbee is a senior at Pittsford Sutherland High School who sings and plays cello. She takes cello lessons from RPO Cellist Mary Ann Wukovitz and vocal lessons from Jane Gunter-McCoy.

Q: How old were you when you started singing, and who (or what) inspired you to start?
A: I started singing almost before I could speak. I heard my mother singing and playing at the piano, and I started imitating her. I was 11 when I started taking lessons with Jane Günter-McCoy.

Q: Do you collaborate with other artists in the area?
A: I am in several choirs around the area and at school. I am in my school’s concert choir, the Eastman Youth Chamber Choir, and frequently sing in both the youth and adult choirs of my church. I am also a cellist in the RPYO as well as in symphony orchestra and occasional chamber ensembles at school.

Q: Who are your favorite composers?

A: My favorite composer to listen to is probably John Williams or John Powell. I love performing Brahms’ songs because he has written so many that are for the beautiful, low register of mezzo-sopranos. While it’s not difficult to find mezzo-voiced music, Brahms is very fun to sing. I also enjoy the song Alto’s Lament, which is not classical, but it is a very humorous song that is just very fun to sing.

July 6, 2015

RPO Music Director wants to engage all

This guest essay, written by RPO Music Director Ward Stare, originally appeared in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has profoundly shaped who I am today. I remember sitting in Eastman Theatre as a child, long before I began formal musical training, and being absolutely mesmerized by the spectrum of sounds and emotions that an orchestra could create. I would leave the hall feeling as though I had been given a glimpse into a whole new world — one of limitless possibility in which my imagination, heart, and soul were set free.

I didn't realize it at the time, but the fact that I could enjoy such magical evenings right here in Rochester was an extraordinary gift. I was inspired by what I heard … so inspired that I decided to make music my life.

Now, as music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, I am determined to ensure that every member of our community has the opportunity to enjoy that very same gift — that they too can discover the magic of live symphonic music, performed by a world-class orchestra, in their very own city.

In today's society, with ever-increasing demands on our attention and competition for our free time, orchestras must strive to be dynamic, multi-faceted sources of inspiration. Many of our efforts at the RPO — from programming concerts to connecting in new ways via digital media — are geared toward engaging the community in an effort to dispel that lingering myth that symphonic music is somehow an "elite" art form.

As I interact with people around town, I'm surprised that many say they've heard of the RPO but they haven't ever actually heard it live. We'd like to change that. This July, the orchestra and I will present 10 concerts all over the Rochester region — many of them free of charge — including the Main Street Bridge concert on the Fourth of July.

We will continue to seek and create new opportunities to share music with the community. I'd like to invite you to send us questions and comments via Facebook or Twitter (@RochesterPhil) so that we can get to know each other, share ideas, and better serve this community. Our connection to this city has been the heart and soul of the RPO for nearly 100 years, and I'm thrilled to be back home in the culturally rich atmosphere that nurtured me as a young man. With your help, it's my goal to make the RPO a source of pride, joy and inspiration for every Rochesterian.

July 1, 2015

Ithaca College professor named new RPYO Music Director

Dr. James Mick
The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) has named Dr. James Mick, an assistant professor of music education at Ithaca College, as the orchestra’s new music director. Mick is only the fourth person to hold the position of music director in the RPYO’s 45-year history. He follows former RPYO Music Director Dr. David Harman, who retired at the end of the 2013-14 season after 21 years of service.

“I am deeply honored and delighted to have the opportunity to carry on the rich culture and traditions of the RPYO that David Harman has spent so many years cultivating,” said Mick, who served as guest conductor at the RPYO’s 2014-15 season finale concert in May. “I am excited to have the opportunity to make music with the talented members of the RPYO as they are introduced to and perform some of the greatest musical works ever written.”

The RPYO is a symphonic orchestra comprised of more than 100 of the most accomplished middle- and high-school musicians from over 30 schools in the greater Rochester area. Musicians are admitted through annual auditions each spring, and the orchestra performs three concerts each year (including an annual side-by-side concert with the RPO in Eastman Theatre!). The RPYO also performs in special outreach concerts, enjoys exchanges with other youth orchestras and undertakes a major tour every three years. RPYO alumni have performed in major orchestras all over the world, and current alumni can be found performing with the RPO, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and other professional ensembles here and abroad. RPO Music Director Ward Stare is also an alumnus of the RPYO.

“Dr. Mick is a passionate music educator, experienced orchestra conductor, and active double bass performer,” said RPYO Manager Susan Basu. “Under his inspirational leadership, the RPYO will continue to provide our committed young musicians with excellent, educationally rich, and personally rewarding musical experiences.”

Mick holds degrees in music education Florida State University (Ph.D.), Ithaca College (M.M.), and Texas Christian University (B.M.E.). Outside of his academic pursuits, Mick is an avid bicyclist who enjoys spending time outdoors surrounded by nature, as well as indoors, restoring his 132-year-old downtown Ithaca home.

For more information on Dr. James Mick and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, visit rpo.org