September 30, 2015

Pittsford teen to perform with the RPO

It is an opportunity most classical musicians dream of achieving--the chance to appear as a spotlight artist with an orchestra. Pittsford’s Raymond Feng started playing piano at five years old; by nine he was winning competitions both on the national and international level. As a soloist, he has performed with the Ashdod Symphony in Perugia, Italy, and also performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Now, the 13-year-old is preparing to make his RPO debut at three free community concerts October 8-10, under the baton of Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement Michael Butterman. Feng will perform the first movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto on a program that also includes familiar favorites like Beethoven, Brahms, and John Williams.

Raymond Feng

“Raymond is a remarkable young pianist,” said Butterman. “The Grieg concerto is a great one—both flashy and lyrical. It will be exciting to hear Raymond in this work, and I hope that it might just inspire a young person or two to begin their own musical journeys.”

Feng’s parents started him on the piano as a young boy because he liked to play around with an old electric keyboard they had in the house. A pupil of Elier Su├írez, Feng says he practices anywhere from 14-16 hours per week while balancing life as a full time student in ninth grade at Pittsford-Sutherland High School. He also plays violin under the tutelage of RPO violinist Nancy Hunt and is concertmaster of the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra.

“The RPO is very high level,” said Feng, who was inspired to send his biography to the orchestra with encouragement from Nancy Hunt. “I’ve played this piece before with the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra, and I’m excited to play it again with the RPO. It’s a big movement filled with lush expressiveness.”

While Feng’s resume seems indicative of a promising career in music, the young pianist hasn’t decided on future plans just yet. In the meantime, he is enjoying performing as much as he can and also performs solo recitals at senior living centers throughout the greater Rochester area.

“I like math and science a lot, too,” said Feng, who has placed first in various “mathlete” competitions over the last few years. “I know that being a musician is very competitive. I don’t know what I will be when I grow up, but I have a lot of interests to tap into when it’s time to choose a career. For now I just love the opportunity to play and share my music with the community.”

If you go
What: Around the Town Concerts
When/Where: Thursday, October 8; Rush-Henrietta High School
                         Friday, October 9; Churchville-Chili High School
                         Saturday, October 10; Webster-Schroeder High School
Time: All concerts at 7:30 PM
$$: Free, donations accepted

For more information, visit

September 14, 2015

RPO Opening Night event seeks to draw younger crowd

The RPO will roll out the red carpet this Thursday night for Music Director Ward Stare’s inaugural season at the RPO. Prior to the Philharmonics Series Opener Pines of Rome, the RPO will throw a pre-concert bash at Max of Eastman Place with Italian cuisine, cocktails, live jazz by The Kieran Hanlon Trio, and a meet-and-greet with the Maestro.

In keeping with the glitz and glamour of an opening night, guests will have the opportunity to pose for photos on the red carpet. While the RPO has always thrown a pre-concert event on opening night, this particular event is especially geared towards young professionals--an audience Stare is keenly interested in attracting to the RPO as a young professional himself. 

“I have always wanted to learn more about how to get involved with the RPO,” said Stephanie Layne, 27 of Rochester. “It’s such an institution in Rochester, and I’m excited to mix and mingle at the red carpet event with other young professionals with this nuanced interest.”

Although Stare was appointed to his position in July of 2014, this will be the first season that he has programmed and for which he will serve as main conductor for the Philharmonics Series. In February, we saw a glimpse of the Maestro’s ideas to engage new audiences with the season preview event, a free concert where Stare introduced the new season and the orchestra played samples of what’s to come. Stare also engaged the audience by taking questions live onstage through social media.

“I’d like to support the RPO however I can,” said Steve Tulgan, 34 of Pittsford, and also a member of the RPO’s Development and Season Opening Steering Committees. “I’m not in a position right now to become a subscriber, but I can support them by being a member of the committee for this fantastic opening event and by attending a few concerts a year. The RPO is one of the most gratifying and rewarding cultural experiences that Rochester has to offer. Watching so many fine musicians perform in unison, with such exacting standards, is quite awe-inspiring.”

Tickets are still available to the RPO’s red carpet opening night, and young professionals can enjoy the event and concert for a special price of $65. Following the event, red carpet event attendees are invited back to Max of Eastman Place for a dessert reception. Tickets to the red carpet event alone are $50. Tickets available online or by calling 585-454-2100.

If you go:
RPO Opening Night Celebration
Thursday, September 17, 5:30-7PM
Max of Eastman Place (25 Gibbs St., Rochester)
Tickets: Purchase online for the $65 young professional price, includes concert ticket to Pines of Rome that evening at Kodak Hall at 7:30 PM. Red carpet event tickets alone are $50, purchase by calling 585-454-2100.

September 3, 2015

Meet Maura McCune Corvington, new second horn at the RPO

Maura McCune Corvington joins the RPO this season as second horn. We caught up with the Chicago native and Eastman grad on returning to Rochester, reuniting with her former professor and mentor (RPO Principal Horn W. Peter Kurau), and what pieces she is most looking forward to playing at the RPO this season!
Maura McCune Corvington
credit: Kate Lemmon

Maura, you grew up in Illinois and were inspired to play after seeing the Chicago Symphony Brass. How old were you when you started attending symphonic concerts?

I vividly remember my first Chicago Symphony Orchestra holiday concert, and my parents, brother, and I never missed the annual performance of A Christmas Carol (which features a horn player) at Goodman Theatre. I have always equated music and horn with holidays and family!

Sounds like you found a love for horn at an early age. When was your “aha” moment as a musician?

My grandmother and great aunt, both professional musicians, patiently encouraged me as a budding young pianist refusing to learn to read bass clef. But my “aha!” moment was with my family in attendance at a CSO Ravinia summer performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. As a beginning band student I had no clue that the horns were instructed to “aufstehen” (stand up) in the finale. When the eight horn players stood in choreographed unison (and stole the show, of course) I was sold!

Before completing your master’s in horn performance at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, you completed your undergraduate at Eastman under the tutelage of RPO Principal Horn Peter Kurau. What’s it like to be returning to Rochester and what are you most looking forward to about working with your former teacher and mentor?

My husband and I relocated in the fall of 2013 from Houston to Honolulu where we performed with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra for two seasons. Patrick and I have definitely been ridiculed by friends, family, and even colleagues for parting with the sandy beaches of Oahu in favor of the snowy streets of Rochester! However, this vibrant musical community was my first home away from home!

As my mentor at Eastman, Peter Kurau encouraged me to make discoveries, to formulate plans, and to be relentless in achieving my dreams! I have great respect for him as well for his vast knowledge and innate musicality. I am most delighted that I will share a stage with him and our section mates to touch RPO audiences and to inspire the next generation of Eastman students as I was inspired!

You will also be mentoring freshmen studying horn at Eastman this spring. If you could give any advice to aspiring young musicians, what would it be?

Dream big! Dream really big!

What are you most looking forward to performing this season with the RPO?

I have an inextinguishable love for Beethoven, Mahler, and Strauss, but my musical tastes change daily! The breadth of repertoire to be performed during the 2015-16 RPO season is so exciting to me. Sunday Matinees will serve as intimate musical experiences for audiences and performers where we can see, feel, and hear every tiny detail. Nothing compares to interacting musically with kids, so the OrKIDStra concerts will be a breath of fresh air. I already imagine a snowy winter day on Gibbs Street and a cozy evening showing of Home Alone accompanied by John Williams’ score. I love John Williams’ music! And pops shows are just a blast! I could not ask for more!

Look for Maura onstage with the RPO this season, and learn more about her on!

September 2, 2015

Meet Ahrim Kim, new principal cellist of the RPO

Ahrim Kim
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is pleased to welcome a new principal cellist to our ranks starting this season.

Ahrim Kim comes to the RPO fresh from an appointment as acting principal cellist for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. We caught up with Ahrim to learn more about her musical training and why she is looking forward to playing with the RPO!

You were born in Seoul, Korea, and started playing cello at the very young age of 6. How did you become interested in the cello at such a young age and what made you want to play professionally?

I started playing the piano first when I was 4 years old. My mom told me that she had listened to a lot of classical music when she was pregnant with me. So naturally I’ve always loved to sing and liked the soothing sound of the cello. I was particularly attracted to the fact that the cello is one of the closest instruments to the human voice.

In the 2014-15 season, you served as acting principal cellist for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and you also have played in the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (NYC). What do you think about being named principal cellist for the RPO?

I’m extremely excited and looking forward to playing with the RPO! I’m so honored to be named principal cellist of an orchestra with such a long tradition of amazing cellists.

Your husband, Robin Scott, was recently appointed first violin of The Ying Quartet, a Grammy Award-winning ensemble in residence at the Eastman School of Music. What are the two of you most looking forward to about coming to Rochester?

We’re thrilled that we will both be working in the same town. We’ve been waiting for this to happen since we got married four years ago. We are very blessed to be starting a new chapter in our lives together!

Looking ahead to this season at the RPO, what pieces are you really excited about playing?

I am personally looking forward to playing a few different pieces this season. Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet tells one of the most well-known stories in literature through music so vividly. I’ve never had the opportunity to play The Nutcracker—I heard the music so much growing up and have wanted to play it for years. I’m looking forward to Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn because it’s fascinating to see how one composer can take the theme of another composer and make it his own. As for Mozart 40, it looks easy on the page, but it’s very challenging to make Mozart sound amazing unless you have clear ideas about everything. The simplest pieces can be the hardest to make convincing. Also, it’s one of the most special pieces by Mozart because minor keys are rare!

What's your favorite music to listen to?
I love listening to any kind of music. The Beatles are one of my favorites, and it never gets old. I always find myself coming back to J. S. Bach, as his music is personally very therapeutic and close to my heart. 

Look for Ahrim Kim in the first chair cello seat this fall, and read more about her on!