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Guest Conductor Wilkins to Make Stylish RPO Debut with Something for Every Taste

February 14, 2008

From Roman Fountains to Jazzy Trombone Concerto to Bohemian Symphony

Rochester, NY – Distinguished American conductor Thomas Wilkins makes his Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra debut in a varied program featuring Roman fountains, a jazzy trombone concerto with the RPO’s Principal Trombone Mark Kellogg, and an inspired Bohemian symphony at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 6 and Saturday, March 8 at Eastman Theatre.  Mr. Wilkins hosts the pre-concert chat at 7 p.m.

Wilkins opens the concert with Ottorino Respighi’s Fountains of Rome (1917), a symphonic poem orchestrated on a lavish, virtually cinematic scale and dotted with evocative musical descriptions.  Audiences will be treated to a depiction of four extravagantly ornate fountains in various parts of Rome seen at the time of day when their character is most in harmony with the surrounding landscape.  The Valle Guilia fountain is depicted with its serene, pastoral landscape; the Triton fountain is a joyous call, summoning troops of naiads and tritons who participate in a frenzied dance between the jets of water; the fountain of Trevi inspires a solemn theme – Neptune’s chariot drawn by sea-horses is followed by a train of sirens and tritons; and the nostalgic hour of sunset announces the Villa Medici fountain with tolling bells, twittering birds and rustling leaves dying out peacefully in the silence of the night.

Jeff Tyzik’s virtuosic Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra changes the mood, reflecting Tyzik’s classical and jazz roots and using many Latin and Afro-Cuban influences.  The piece was written for RPO’s Principal Trombone, Mark Kellogg, who, like Tyzik, has a combined background in classics and jazz.  Although the entire concerto is written out, Tyzik conceived it to sound improvisatory.  The work is in three movements: the first, Prelude and Scherzo begins with a slow introduction which shifts into a very rhythmic and energetic second half, Lament gives voice to the composer’s feelings about the September 11 tragedy, and the finale, Dance, is almost a bacchanale.

Dvořàk’s Symphony No. 7 (1885) was inspired in part by his compositional colleague, Johannes Brahms, whose works were known to communicate universal sentiments through international and musical language. The symphony’s three movements are emotionally powerful and richly scored, underplaying the folk-like elements which had been more pervasive in Dvořàk’s earlier works, although still appearing in the “dancing” third movement with its syncopated rhythms. 

Thomas Wilkins was appointed Music Director of the Omaha Symphony in 2005 while continuing to hold the position as Resident Conductor of the Detroit Symphony.  Past conducting posts have included the Florida Orchestra and the Richmond (VA) Symphony.  Wilkins also has guest conducted the Cleveland and the Philadelphia orchestras, the symphonies of Dallas, Baltimore, Houston, Grand Rapids, New Jersey, Indianapolis, and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, DC).  For his commitment to promoting life-long enthusiasm for music, and for his specific contribution to the children of Tampa Bay, he received the 1998 Music Educator of the Year award from regional music educators.

Mark Kellogg (The Austin E. Hildebrandt Chair), enjoys the dual appointment of RPO Principal Trombone and Associate Professor of Trombone, Euphonium and Chamber Music at the Eastman School of Music.  Kellogg frequently appears as a soloist with the RPO and as a guest with the Eastman Wind Ensemble as well as with the Hartford, Youngstown and Penfield symphonies and the U.S. Army Chamber Orchestra.  Kellogg is active as a jazz and chamber musician and – as a performing artist for Conn-Selmer trombones – has appeared at numerous low brass symposia.  He can be heard on recordings as a founding member of Rhythm & Brass, and with Eastman School pianist Tony Caramia in Upstate Standards.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$55, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100); in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  Students and senior citizens are entitled to a 20% discount on advance single ticket purchases as well as half-price rush tickets beginning at 10 a.m. on the concert day.

This concert is sponsored by Zimmer Sales & Service Corp; the Philharmonics Series is sponsored by The Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers $5 Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students with valid ID. 

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:  Interviews and photos of Messrs. Wilkins and Kellogg are available on request.

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