This coming season, the RPO’s Principal Pops Conductor
Jeff Tyzik leads the orchestra for all the
best in popular music, featuring jazz, Broadway, the return of
Bugs Bunny to Rochester, and our festive tradition of Gala
For this issue of eNotes, we caught up with Jeff to find
out more about the upcoming Pops season.
The Pops Series opens with a tribute to the Music of Ray Charles. Tell us more about
Ellis Hall, the featured guest that night.
Ellis Hall has worked with Michael McDonald and other
artists. He is endorsed by the Ray Charles family as an artist
that most represents the Ray Charles sound. He recently had a
successful concert with the Boston Pops. He sings the hits of
Ray Charles, plays B3 Hammond Organ and a background vocal
group comes with him to lend an air of authenticity for the
Ray Charles sound.
Use this link for a video clip of Ellis
Hall singing "Georgia on My
Note: the Pops season opening concert also includes a
Red Carpet Spectacular with a Wegmans culinary extravaganza.
Click here for more
have a few guest artists coming back this season with new
projects, including Debbie Gravitte, Wycliffe Gordon, and Michael Cavanaugh. Can you tell us more
about those concerts?
The Music of Ray Charles
8 & 9
November 5 & 6
Bugs Bunny at the
January 7 & 8
Gershwin, Tyzik, Ellington &
January 28 & 29
A Nat King Cole Tribute
When Irish Eyes
March 18 & 19
According to Jazz
April 15 & 16
The Music of Elton
May 20 & 21
Use this link for more information on the
Each of these artists is a top entertainer and it will be
fun to see them return with a new show. We will feature Debbie
doing eclectic Broadway and swing music. Wycliffe will be
doing his signature jazz and then a whole half of a concert
dedicated to the mix of gospel music and jazz. Michael
Cavanaugh—who was here for the tribute to Billy Joel—will now
unveil his tribute to Elton John.
And we hear you’re working with actor and
singer Keith David on a tribute to Nat King Cole
—how did that come
Both Chris Stager, our marketing consultant, and Byron
Stripling, a performer who has had many appearances with the
RPO, suggested Keith David. He is a wonderful actor who
happens to love the music of Nat King Cole. His voice has an
uncanny resemblance to Nat King Cole and I am creating this
concert for its first performance here in Rochester.
The Rochester City Ballet will be part of the
Pops Series for the first time this season, although Jamey
Leverett has choreographed dances to your music before, for
Bravo! Colorado. What is that process like?
I have had two experiences working with Jamey Leverett and
the RCB. These experiences have been among the most profound
of my career. I'm looking forward to this interesting and
unique opportunity to have two of Rochester's most important
cultural assets on stage at the same time.
What is one of your funniest or oddest RPO
concert (or rehearsal) memories ...
One of the funniest and most stressful was the time we had
the Mambo Kings in the orchestra pit. They were supposed to
rise on the elevator while we were playing together during the
performance. We had a stage crew member in the pit who had to
press a button to activate the upward movement of the elevator
while the concert was in progress. We were all playing and
when he pressed the button, nothing happened. Everyone was
panicked. It took a few minutes to realize that the stage
manager at the time had forgotten to activate the switch from
backstage. It's funny now, but at the time it was
We know you like to cook – what are some of
your favorite meals this summer?
This summer is all about light meals. Grilling local
vegetables. Eating our local fruits like raspberries,
strawberries and peaches and lots of seafood from Wegmans.
Where are your travels taking you during the
I'll be spending time on the North Fork of Long Island,
NY—at the very tip of Long Island—and then a little time on
Cape Cod. Both locations are near the ocean. Early morning
walks on the beach to clear my head and get ready for the new
season. I also get to spend good time with Jill and of course
our dog, Puccini.