June 30, 2016

Stage Manager David Zaccaria celebrates five years at the RPO

Stage Manager David Zaccaria backstage
at the RPO
Stage Manager David Zaccaria celebrated his five year anniversary at the RPO this week on Wednesday, June 29. While his family has a long and storied history helping bring classical music to Rochester, Zaccaria’s path to the RPO has been a bit more unconventional.

“I studied culinary arts for two semesters at MCC and got an internship at Disneyland when I was 18,” explained Zaccaria. “I was just kind of doing culinary work there, but things didn’t really work out the way I anticipated. I never did finish my degree, but I’d like to go back someday.”

After an unsuccessful move to California and two years of culinary school in the bag, Zaccaria was in need of a change. After returning to Rochester, he looked to his family, who have been involved in classical music in Rochester for as long as he can remember. His grandfather, Domenic Zaccaria Sr., worked at the Eastman Theatre full-time as flyman/head electrician and his uncle is currently the stage manager of the Auditorium Theater.

While Zaccaria did not succeed his grandfather directly at Eastman, he does describe Zaccaria Sr.'s work as that of a "third hand" when the RPO used to travel up and down the east coast performing shows. Zaccaria draws a parallel between this and his current work putting on RPO shows at neighboring theaters and negotiating all the logistics that comes with. Zaccaria described his beginnings at the RPO as somewhat of a fish-out-of-water experience, but he quickly grew to love his new surroundings.

“I felt like a young man in an old man’s game,” he said, “but I was really just in the right place at the right time. I actually got my start working with orchestras as a stage hand at Local 25, a union that does stage work, and through the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which a lot my family are members of.”

Zaccaria explains his work as a stage manager with an ease and confidence that could only come from five years of experience, but it can be daunting work.

“Safety is probably the most important thing I take care of,” he said. “We have more complicated shows sometimes that involve lots of acrobatics and lighting rigs, so our job is really just to make sure that the orchestra is safe and to give the musicians anything that they might need. It’s honestly a position where not many people know exactly what we do because it’s so behind the scenes.”

As if managing more than 60 different people simultaneously wasn’t enough, Zaccaria is also in charge of making sure everyone’s requests are met and all safety precautions have been made well in advance. This can lead to some pretty stressful situations and “a lot of different personalities” to deal with, as David put it, but it’s nothing he can’t handle.

In fact, Zaccaria still manages to find time outside of the RPO to pursue some personal dreams of his.
“I’m very into real estate and in another five years or so I’d love to have an income property or an investment property,” he said. “One of my long-term goals is to open a little coffee shop or a bar and grille.”

For now, however, Zaccaria is still doing great things at the RPO. It’s a lot of work, but there’s one simple thing that makes it all worth it.

“The music is the best part,” he said. “I get to be so involved with it and I get to hear it every single day. That’s great.”

Written by Alexander Jones, a recent graduate of RIT's journalism program and current marketing and communications intern at the RPO

June 29, 2016

Announcing the new Patron Services Center!

On Monday, June 27, the RPO's Patron Services Center opened to the public at 10 AM. Located at 108 East Avenue, the Patron Services Center is the new location for all RPO box office needs, including subscriptions, exchanges, single tickets, and donations.

If you are a longtime RPO patron, you may remember that the box office was formerly housed at 108 East Avenue before relocating to the Eastman Theatre Box Office on East Main Street several years ago. So, why did we move back? Simple! The RPO and Eastman School of Music are both growing and have increased the number of concerts. We were operating together with one box office staff to cover all the patron needs of both organizations, so a joint decision was made to expand box office operations in two separate locations. That, and it gave us the opportunity to update the old box office on East Avenue into a modern Patron Services Center! Here are some before-and-after photos from the renovation. Scroll to the bottom of this blog for a video tour of the new space!

Come check out the Patron Services Center in person Mondays-Saturdays from 10 AM-5 PM. Single tickets go on sale Friday, July 29! And, you can still call us at 585-454-2100 or purchase tickets online at rpo.org. Here's to the future!
New vinyl window banners going up at 108 East Avenue

The finished product!

A "before" look at the old box office area, which had been used for meetings or storage since 2008.
This photo is from a 2015 staff event.

Fresh paint and new posters listing the full 2016-17 RPO season have transformed the old box office into a modern Patron Services Center!
Volunteer Kevin Stone helped paint several rooms, transforming offices and storage spaces into the customer area, call center, and manager's office.
Ed Solorzano director of ticketing (background), and Teddy Sainphor, box office manager (foreground) assemble new file systems from IKEA for our call center

A video posted by Rochester Philharmonic (@rochesterphilharmonic) on

June 20, 2016

RPYO music director reflects on first season, looks to future

It’s been a great year for James Mick, assistant professor of music education at Ithaca College. In July, he was named music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, succeeding David Harman who retired after 21 years of service. Then in September, he got married. Despite a hectic schedule, Dr. Mick was welcomed with open arms by RPYO students, parents, alumni and previous conductors, including Harman who guided Dr. Mick’s first season as music director.
James Mick

“I was surprised how much support there is in the RPYO,” said Dr. Mick. “Everyone gets along and there is always someone willing to help out.”

Founded in 1970, the RPYO is an audition-based orchestra that draws the most talented classically-trained young musicians in our region. RPO Music Director Ward Stare was a member of the RPYO, and many of its alumni can be found performing with major symphonies and professional ensembles here and abroad. The RPYO performs three concerts each season, including a side-by-side with the RPO. In 2016-17, the RPYO will return to Carnegie Hall for the first time since 2013.

“The students are up for the challenge,” said Dr. Mick. “They take their lives as musicians seriously, and it’s inspiring as a music educator to see this level of enthusiasm. They are eager to perform at the highest caliber.”

The RPYO recently held auditions for the upcoming season at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra administrative offices. 75 students’ grades 7-12 auditioned for a total of 40 open positions, left vacant by graduating seniors. The auditions were spread out over four days and involved thirteen RPO adjudicators in addition to Dr. Mick.

“It’s a true audition,” said Dr. Mick. “We expect them to prepare an excerpt of a particular piece, and also to do a sight-reading. We don’t provide feedback. It’s important for them to learn how to handle an audition.”

The 2016-17 RPYO will include nearly 100 students. While Dr. Mick isn’t ready to reveal programming just yet, he teased the possibility of something that the NY Philharmonic will also be performing when the students visit Carnegie Hall next February.

“I love getting to watch these students experience this repertoire for the first time,” said Dr. Mick. “They just devour it!”

Visit the RPYO website for more information.
The RPYO in rehearsal with the RPO for the March side-by-side, under the baton of James Mick.

June 15, 2016

RPO's total earned revenue grows for second year in a row

RPO 2015-16 season finale
credit: Erich Camping
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is proud to report that its just-completed 2015-16 subscription season marks the second year in a row for total earned revenue growth. The 2014-15 season was the first year of growth since 2010-11.

Ward Stare’s inaugural season as music director was the first year of subscription revenue and package growth since the 2007-08 season, reversing a multi-year trend for the RPO that is consistent with orchestras nationwide. During the 2015-16 season, subscription revenue grew by 4% over 2014-15, and subscriber retention rates were the highest in six seasons.

Subscription and single ticket sales both exceeded their budgeted goals, with single ticket revenue growing again (2014-15 was a record-breaking year) to total $1.68 million. The most impressive improvements in single ticket revenue and paid attendance were seen in the Pops and Sunday Matinee Series, as well as with The Nutcracker, a Rochester holiday favorite and collaboration with Rochester City Ballet.

Strong subscription sales continue for the 2016-17 season and have already surpassed final subscription totals for the 2015-16 season in Philharmonics, Pops, and Sunday Matinee Series. The RPO is poised to grow subscriptions for the second year in a row next season, fueled by an increase in the number of performances and the addition of blockbuster programming like Yo-Yo Ma, which sold out to subscribers in only six weeks.

“These numbers go against the industry trend in orchestras and are a true testament to the artistic leadership of Ward Stare,” says RPO President & CEO Ralph Craviso, who has led the orchestra since October 1, 2015. “We are proud of the RPO’s ticketing success, but it’s important to note that ticket sales cover only 40 percent of our overall operating costs. As a world-class orchestra that is deeply committed to serving the community, we in turn look to the community for support.”

Subscription packages, including two Compose-Your-Own Series', are still available for the upcoming season. Single tickets for the RPO’s 2016-17 season go on sale Friday, July 29 at 10 a.m.