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Music Inspired by Dance Brought to Life by RPO Guest Conductor and Violinist

March 30, 2007

Former RPO conductor Peter Bay returns to guest conduct the debut of violinist Amy Beth Horman in virtuosic violin works by Saint-Säens and Ravel

Rochester, NY – Violinist Amy Beth Horman makes her Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra debut under the baton of former RPO conductor Peter Bay in an evening of “Symphonic Dances” on Thursday April 19 and Saturday April 21 at 8:00 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre.  French, Hungarian and Latin dance-inspired works by Ravel and Saint-Saëns bring a tremendous rhythmic excitement to the program, culminating in Rachmaninoff’s final composition, Symphonic Dances.  Peter Bay and Amy Beth Horman host the pre-concert chat at 7 p.m.      

Begun in 1914, Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin initially was conceived as a tribute to the graceful 17th century harpsichord music of French composer Couperin.  However, the tragedy of World War I so affected the composer that each movement ultimately became an homage to individual friends who lost their lives in combat.  The work consists of a sequence of dances, with Ravel catching the style and spirit of the French baroque style.

Violinist Amy Beth Horman makes her RPO debut with two virtuosic pieces chock full of violinistic fireworks: Saint-Saëns’ lilting and sultry Havanaise (inspired by the tango-like habañera), and Ravel’s Hungarian gypsy-flavored Tzigane. The latter work opens with a spectacular violin solo capturing the essence of Gypsy fiddling.  The orchestra enters quietly, while the violinist proceeds to show off an ever-more-intricate succession of virtuoso techniques: rapid harmonics, quadruple stops and left-hand pizzicato amidst bowed arpeggios.

Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances represent the victory of the composer’s deeply held religious faith over the power of darkness and death.  The first of the three dance-movement work continued Rachmaninoff’s obsession with Dies irae, the somber melody drawn from the medieval plainchant Mass for the Dead.  The second dance presents a haunted vision of the ballroom within the framework of a symphonic waltz, featuring eerie muted fanfares and ghostly dancers.  The final movement is a grand witches’ Sabbath, seething with manic, diabolical energy.  A furious conflict breaks out between the Dies irae and a traditional Russian religious chant, but the work ends triumphantly with an Allilyua theme from the composer’s choral work Vespers.  

American violinist Amy Beth Horman is quickly becoming a sought-after soloist on the international stage. After her performance with the National Symphony, the Washington Post hailed her as “having the stuff of greatness.”  She has performed with the New Mexico Symphony and the Fairfax Symphony, in addition to appearing as a recital soloist and a chamber musician with pianist Corey McVicar in their recently-established Orion Duo.  She has been featured on French-Swiss television and on American radio broadcasts.  Ms. Horman began studying the violin at the age of five, and at 17, she withdrew from high school to compete for (and ultimately receive) a place in the doctoral program at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris.

Music Director of the Austin Symphony since 1998, Peter Bay is also Music Director of the Britt Festival Orchestra in Jacksonville, Oregon.  As a guest conductor, Mr. Bay has appeared with more than 20 major American orchestras including the National, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Baltimore, New Mexico and Syracuse Symphonies, as well as the Minnesota Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.  He is a frequent guest at summer music festivals, and his European appearances have taken him to Germany, Austria, Lithuania and Portugal.  As an opera conductor he has conducted varied repertoire from Previn to Mozart.  His recordings include the U.S. premiere of Britten’s The Sword and the Stone with the Richmond Symphony, and Voices with the RPO and the percussion ensemble NEXUS.  In 1994, Mr. Bay was one of two conductors selected to participate in the Leonard Bernstein American Conductors Program. 

Tickets for these performances are $20-$54, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at any Wegmans.  RPO Box Office hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Wegmans is open seven days a week.  A convenience fee may apply.

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb. This concert is sponsored by Zimmer Sales & Services.  Mr. Bay’s appearance is made possible by the Davenport-Hatch Foundation.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students. 

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.

RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO.

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