April 13, 2017

Musicians to honor local music educators'

On Thursday, April 20, the RPO musicians will honor local music teachers at the 29th annual Music Educators' Awards Night at Kodak Hall. Founded in 1988, the Awards program works to strengthen the relationship between area music educators and the musicians of the RPO.

"Music educators deserve to be commended as often as possible for deeply enriching others’ lives," said Maura McCune Corvington, a member of the RPO horn section and chair of the 2017 Awards committee.“I would not have pursued and succeeded in music without stellar classroom and private music instruction."

Administrators, educators, parents and students submit nominations that are then reviewed by a committee comprised of community educators and RPO musicians. Five outstanding local music educators' were chosen. Educators like Al Heary, who has taught vocal and general music at DeWitt Elementary School in Webster for 30 years.

"It’s rewarding to see former students in other performances or continuing in music knowing their first music experiences started in our school." said Heary. "I enjoy working with my students and creating musical experiences that will hopefully 'plant the seed' for them to continue enjoying music throughout life, whether that means singing, playing an instrument, performing on the stage, or by attending concerts and shows."

The educators will be honored prior to intermission at next Thursday's RPO concert featuring performances of Slatkin's Kinah and Mahler 5. Tickets start at $23 and are available at rpo.org or by calling 454-2100.

2017 Music Educator Award Winners

Award: Instrumental Music - Band (K-12)
Jeanne Coonan of Spry Middle School in Webster

Award: Classroom Music Specialist (General Music K-12)
Al Heary of DeWitt Elementary School in Webster

Award: Instrumental Music - Band (K-12)
M. David Shemancik of Sutherland High School in Pittsford

Award: Special Award
Beverly Smoker, Professor and Department Chair at Nazareth College

Award: Choral Director (K-12)
Douglas Steves of Oliver Middle School in Brockport

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April 10, 2017

From the Stage: Charles Wetherbee, guest violin

Musician and professor Charles Wetherbee will serve as guest artist on the RPO's Sunday Matinee program on April 30 at Hochstein Performance Hall. Wetherbee is first violinist of the esteemed Carpe Diem String Quartet, which plays to packed houses across the U.S. and is known for programming that includes elements of Gypsy, tango, folk, rock, pop and jazz-music alongside the classical repertoire. Wetherbee will perform a piece he commissioned himself by Carpe Diem violist/composer Korine Fujiwara called "The Storyteller."
Charles Wetherbee

"I have always loved performing that portion of the violin solo repertoire that was written by violinist/composers," said Wetherbee, who is also assistant professor of violin at the University of Colorado Boulder. "There is something exciting and fitting about a composer who plays the instrument that they are writing for, and this knowledge often translates into the way things get voiced, orchestrated, and expressed."

To compose "The Storyteller," Fujiwara drew inspiration from the beloved Japanese folk tales of her youth which were told by her father and grandfather.

"The traditions of storytelling exist in every culture, and for many families, it is a familiar bedtime ritual," said Fujiwara. "The concerto is inspired in part by the haunting sounds of Kangen, a type of instrumental Gagaku (Japanese court music), and populated by a motley cast of characters from Japanese folk tales."

So how does a violinist mimic the sounds of Japanese instruments?

“It's a challenge to get the right flavor, the right timbre, the right color of those instruments,” said Wetherbee. “At the same time all of these effects all of these characters in the stories ... it's all incorporated in a very melodic and romantic language.”

"The Storyteller" received its world premiere in 2012 by the National Gallery Orchestra.

"The work emerged as one with some very traditional elements, and some that are much more contemporary," added Wetherbee. "It is a pleasure to play, and it does also, I think, resurrect at times the use of the violin as an instrument that can mimic the qualities of the human voice."

If you go:
Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, also featuring "The Storyteller"
Sunday, April 30 at 2 PM
Hochstein Performance Hall
Tickets $27