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RPO Principal Players Take a Walk on the Jazz Side

September 28, 2007

Rochester, NY –   From the great turn-of-the-century ragtime composer Scott Joplin through 1920s jazz giant Jelly Roll Morton to George Gershwin and one of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s own – principal timpanist and composer Charles Ross – the early years of jazz and its musical precursors will be featured at the RPO’s first Casual Sunday Matinee concert with Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik on Sunday, October 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the Eastman Theatre.  Ticketholders are invited to a 12:30 Bagel Brunch at Miller Center Atrium.

In “The Birth of Jazz,” five gifted jazz-inclined RPO musicians will be spotlighted:  Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair), Principal Trombone Mark Kellogg (The Austin E. Hildebrandt Chair), Principal Trumpet Douglas Prosser (The Elaine P. Wilson Chair), Principal Timpani Charles Ross (The Harold and Joan Feinbloom Chair¬) and Principal Keyboard Joseph Werner (The Lois P. Lines Chair).  They will be joined by the often-heard jazz guitarist and Eastman guitar instructor Bob Sneider.

Tyzik leads the orchestra in four rags by Scott Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, Sunflower Slow Drag and Cascades.  Published between 1899 and 1904, this music – with its syncopation and liberal use of “blue” notes – provided early inspiration for jazz composers and performers.  The rest of the afternoon is devoted to George Gershwin’s Preludes, Tyzik’s own Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton (based on three of Morton’s tunes), and Tyzik’s arrangement of Baba’s Child by Charles (Chip) Ross, playing a dual role as composer and performer.  Baba’s Child was written in 1990 while Ross was playing a season as guest timpanist with La Scala Opera in Milan and performing in a local jazz group. The name and lyrics were inspired by a later trip to India; the term “baba” is used in reference to God or the “Father Creator.” 

General admission tickets are $15; $12 for seniors, students, subscribers and members, 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.).

The Casual Sunday Matinee Series is sponsored by Rochester Magazine and Strong Health; bagels and coffee are generously provided by Bruegger’s Bakeries.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York StateCouncil on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

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. 

Note: Photos of Tyzik and solo performers are available upon request.

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