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Hollywood Meets Rochester: RPO Rolls Out Red Carpet for 85th Anniversary Celebration

September 11, 2007

Red Carpet Spectacular Heralds October 6 Opening Night Concert Festivities, Recognizes 10 Years of Seaman at the Helm

Rochester, NY – Gibbs Street will be transformed into Hollywood on Saturday, October 6, 2007 when the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra literally rolls out a 180-foot red carpet in celebration of its 85th Anniversary Opening Night.  Borrowing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s legendary Academy Awards, the RPO’s Red Carpet Spectacular promises to be an historic event.  At 6:30 p.m., RPO musicians and Music Director Christopher Seaman will make a grand entrance up Gibbs Street from Barrett Place into the Eastman Theatre just prior to the opening concert at 7:30 p.m.  The evening features Stravinsky’s stunningly graphic and literally earth-shaking portrayal of pagan rites, The Rite of Spring – itself a sonic spectacular.  The 2007-08 Season also represents a “double header,” recognizing Christopher Seaman’s 10th Anniversary as the RPO’s Music Director.

The Red Carpet Walk will provide patrons an opportunity to cheer on the musicians and Christopher Seaman as they walk the red carpet into the Theatre entrance on Main Street.  Under the direction of Master of Ceremonies Greg Smith of Jay Advertising, spectators lining Gibbs Street – closed off to evening traffic – will be able to see the musicians up close, hear short individual interviews and take photos.

The concert itself begins at 7:30 p.m. (no pre-concert chat), and in keeping with Christopher Seaman’s 10th anniversary celebration, opens with Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, the first piece Seaman ever guest conducted in Rochester more than 20 years ago.  Although it was commissioned to accompany the children’s film “The Instruments of the Orchestra,” it has stood alone in the concert hall as, according to Maestro Seaman “one of the greatest sets of variations ever composed.”  The theme – based on music by 17th century English composer Henry Purcell – and 13 variations, brilliantly show off the sound and character of each instrument of the orchestra. 

The symbolism of the evening continues with Vaughan Williams’ short 1938 masterpiece, Serenade to Music, written to celebrate 50 years on the podium of the great English conductor Sir Henry Wood, founder of the celebrated and ongoing Promenade Concerts in London.  Featuring 16 solo singers from the Eastman School Opera Theatre, the work is a sublime setting from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice on the beauty and power of music.

Closing the program is Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the 1913 sensation that literally caused a riot at its first performance in Paris.  Written originally as a ballet score for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe and choreographed by the great Vaslav Nijinksy, the work was conceived by Stravinsky from a vision: “I saw in imagination a solemn pagan rite: wise elders, seated in a circle, watching a young girl dance herself to death.  They were sacrificing her to propitiate the god of Spring.”  RPO Music Director Seaman calls this work “one of the greatest orchestral showpieces of all time,” adding that “the brilliance of the scoring and the wild unpredictable rhythms have an almost hypnotic effect on us, even today.”

In looking at the 2007-08 Season and his tenth anniversary, Christopher Seaman muses: “As our great Orchestra moves into its 85th season, we in Rochester can be proud not only of past traditions but also of present excellence and our commitment to future growth – we have not stood still and rested on our laurels, but have moved the whole organization forward. In my 10th year, I am proud of what we have achieved together, and am confident of the successes which lie just around the corner.”

Tickets for this performance are $35-$85 plus special Eastman 400 Circle tickets at $200.  All are available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office.  RPO Box Office hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.).  All tickets include the Red Carpet Walk and the post-concert Stars & Streetlights Soiree with dessert and champagne to toast the season with the musicians and Christopher Seaman, as well as dancing to “Phill Freeman and the Best.”  $200 Eastman 400 Circle tickets also include a pre-concert three-course dinner, exclusive mezzanine concert seating, intermission champagne toast, valet parking and commemorative gift.

This concert is sponsored by Harter Secret & Emery LLP; with additional support from Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson & Johnson company; and Friends of Christopher, with special thanks to Max of Eastman Place.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, 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 and the City of Rochester. 

Note:  Christopher Seaman and individual RPO musicians are available for interviews upon request.

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