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RPO Announces its 2008-2009 Season

February 29, 2008

From Watts to Wynonna, RPO’s Season Shows off Orchestra’s Versatility; Jeff Tyzik Celebrates 15 Years at RPO with Red Carpet Spectacular

Rochester, NY – During the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2008-09 Season – its final full season prior to the renovation of the Eastman Theatre for the following year – the RPO celebrates another milestone anniversary: Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik’s 15-year tenure with the Orchestra. In addition, a Philharmonics Season Opener with legendary pianist André Watts; country music superstar Wynonna Judd with guitarist Don Potter; a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 90th birthday featuring his daughter Jamie; a guitar quartet premiere and a mini-Russian music festival are just a few highlights of the upcoming season. “We have a very adventurous final season in the Eastman Theatre as we now know it,” says Music Director Christopher Seaman.  “We begin on a real high with André Watts, followed by some of our favorite soloists and guest conductors as well as a number of performers never before heard with the RPO.  I’m looking forward to the 2008-09 Season with tremendous anticipation.”

Music Director Christopher Seaman has planned a superb Philharmonics Series to mark the RPO’s final concerts in the current Eastman Theatre before its renovation in the summer of 2009.    A festive Opening Weekend on Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11 -- note the Friday and Saturday performances instead of the usual Philharmonics days of Thursday and Saturday – brings together Christopher Seaman and internationally renowned pianist André Watts for Beethoven’s spectacular “Emperor” Concerto.

The regular season unfolds with Christopher Seaman, Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) and the RPO in a season presenting 14 pairs of Philharmonics Series concerts; eight pairs of Pops concerts plus a weekend’s worth of Gala Holiday Pops; six pairs of Symphony 101 concerts; four Casual Sunday Matinees; the popular orKIDStra series plus the special orKIDStra Holiday concert; The Nutcracker with the Rochester City Ballet and Handel’s Messiah with the Rochester Oratorio Society. 

Series highlights follow:



Guest Artists:

  • In addition to the internationally celebrated André Watts in the Opening Weekend, five pianists appear this season, including a revisit by one of Christopher Seaman’s long-time musical friends, John Lill, performing  Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2; one of Rochester’s favorites, Jon Nakamatsu in a style change from the last season’s Gershwin to the refined Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21; the fine French pianist Pascal Rogé performing a work for which he has received international acclaim, Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 5; and Andrew von Oeyen, the young American returning in another virtuosic Liszt “finger-breaker,” Totentanz for Piano and Orchestra.
  • String players include the charismatic cellist Julie Albers in her RPO debut performing Barber’s immensely emotional Cello Concerto; our own Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair) in Brahms’ gorgeous Violin Concerto; violinist Leila Josefowicz showing off her dynamic virtuosity in Beethoven’s monumental Violin Concerto in D Major; and violinist Stefan Jackiw in Mozart’s elegant Violin Concerto No. 4.
  • Members of the GRAMMY® winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet join Music Director Christopher Seaman in only the second performance – and East Coast Premiere – of Sergio Assad’s Interchange for Guitar Quartet and Orchestra, direct from its world premiere with the San Antonio Symphony.
  • The beautiful tones of the RPO’s own Principal Flute, Rebecca Gilbert (The Charlotte Whitney Allen Chair), will be featured in Nielsen’s warm-hearted 1926 Flute Concerto.

Guest Conductors:

  • The gifted young American conductor James Gaffigan makes a return appearance (Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique); Andrew Grams, who just completed his three-year term as Assistant Conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra (Passionate Piano); Daniel Hege from the Syracuse Symphony (Tchaikovsky’s Fifth); the internationally prominent Günther Herbig (Mahler’s Sixth); the exceptional Jahja Ling (Shostakovich’s Fifth); and Israeli-born Yoav Talmi (Rachmaninoff’s Second) with a bonus as both conductor and composer.

Significant Repertoire:

  • In addition to Opening Weekend, other significant repertoire includes a mini-Russian festival on six Philharmonics programs featuring composers Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Shostakovich, Borodin, Mussorgsky and Prokofiev.
  • The Eastman-Rochester Chorus with guests soloists, soprano Barbara Shirvis; tenor Michael Colvin and baritone Stephen Powell join forces with the RPO in Haydn’s magnificent oratorio, The Creation, based on the Book of Genesis, the Book of Psalms and Milton’s literary epic, Paradise Lost.
  • Also noteworthy is Berlioz’s spectacular Symphonie fantastique, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 and Holst’s The Planets, with an appropriate final Eastman Theatre Philharmonics piece, Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 “Farewell.”

Except for the Special Friday and Saturday Opening Weekend, all Philharmonics concerts take place Thursday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre.  A free “pre-concert chat” at 7 p.m. precedes each Philharmonics concert.  Christopher Seaman usually hosts these popular programs, which give musical and historical background into the music for that evening.  Subscription packages for five, seven and 14 concerts are available.  Until April 19, 2008, renewal prices range from $100 to $635 depending on package and seating locations.  Prices for all new subscribers range from $100 to $649.


  • The Pops Season opens with Celebrate Tyzik! Red Carpet Spectacular on Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25.  A special appearance by his daughter, mezzo-soprano Jami Tyzik, the astonishing virtuosity of trumpeter Allen Vizzutti and surprise guests will make this opening pair of concerts of the hottest tickets in town.  The celebration continues for all ticketholders with the Stars and Streetlights party on Gibbs Street following the concert.
  • Country music superstar Wynonna Judd will perform some of her greatest hits alongside interpretations of timeless American standards, joined by guitarist Don Potter (last appearing with the RPO in the sold-out Friends and Love concert).
  • The Festival High School Chorale once again joins Tyzik and the RPO for Friday, Saturday and Sunday Gala Holiday Pops shows, this time with the talents of New York Voices providing a new spin.
  • Music becomes motion as the RPO brings in a Cirque de Soleil-style program with guest conductor Michael Krajewski and acrobats, aerialists and more literally dropping into the Theatre.
  • Michael Cavanaugh, star of Broadway’s Movin’ Out, sings the best of Billy Joel’s songbook.
  • Jamie Bernstein appears onstage with the RPO for a musical and personal recollection of her father, the great Leonard Bernstein, in recognition of what would have been his 90th birthday.
  • The Eastman Theatre will transform into the historic 20s and 30s jazz venue in A Night at the Cotton Club, the season’s final Pops concert.  Remembering Duke, Cab, Louis, Ethel and Fletcher, Tyzik will be joined by trumpeter Byron Stripling, vocalist Carmen Bradford, drummer Bob Breithaupt and dancer Ted Levy.
  • Familiar Rochester vocalist Tonio Di Paolo helps celebrate all things Italian, while Doug La Brecque and Christiane Noll bring the best of Broadway to the Eastman Theatre.

All WPOP Series concerts take place Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre.  Subscription packages for five or nine concerts are available.  Until April 19, renewal prices range from $100 to $419, depending on the package and seating location.  Prices for all new subscribers range from $105 to $428.


Christopher Seaman once again plays host, educator and conductor in this series of six informal concerts using musical illustrations played by the Orchestra, anecdotes and pertinent background information to provide an informative look at different types of orchestral music.  Next season, the series explores works written in the same year by great composers who took very different musical paths.  Following each concert, Mr. Seaman takes questions from the audience.  The concerts take place on Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. in the Performance Hall at Hochstein. (Note the new Sunday time and location.)  The subscription price for the six-concert series is $119.


This season, Jeff Tyzik again conducts all four concerts in the popular Casual Sunday Matinee Series opening with a retrospective of the Masters of American Musicals including Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe and more, then on to the 2009 Search for a Star concert featuring winners from the local contest for talented high school musicians.  The second half of the season presents a celebration of spring with Enchanted April and ends with Hot Jazz & Cool Blues with popular trumpeter Byron Stripling.  All Casual Sunday Matinee concerts take place on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre.  The subscription price for the four-concert series is $49.


The popular four-concert orKIDStra Series returns under the direction of Michael Butterman, exploring the intersections between music and other art forms.  Although ideal for children of all ages, these concerts are designed especially for families with young children ages 3-9.  These orKIDStra concerts take place on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. in the Performance Hall at Hochstein.  Pre-concert activities begin at 1 p.m. The subscription price for the four-concert series is $41. 


  • Our new tradition of Handel’s Messiah with the Rochester Oratorio Society takes place on one special evening, Saturday, December 13 at 8 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre, conducted by Christopher Seaman with four internationally acclaimed singers.  Tickets are $14-56.
  • Thanksgiving time means turkey on the table and Nutcracker magic at the Eastman Theatre.  We continue our successful collaboration with the Rochester City Ballet and the Bach Children’s Chorus for six performances of The Nutcracker over Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 28, 29, and 30 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily.  Tickets are $17-60.
  • Families with children get their own annual An orKIDStra Holiday concert on Sunday, December 14 at 2 p.m. at the Eastman Theatre, Michael Butterman conducting.  General admission ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for children.


Early subscribers renewing by April 19 receive rewards of guaranteed great seats and great savings.  Subscribers renewing by this date will pay a special lower subscription price than new subscribers, and will have immediate access to the best seats for the Red Carpet Spectacular and holiday events.  Subscriber renewals guarantee a place in the renovated Eastman Theatre with new seats and new patron amenities to enhance the concert experience.  Those renewing by Saturday, April 19 also will receive a coupon for two free lawn tickets for a summer RPO concert at CMAC in Canandaigua.

To receive a free brochure detailing the 2008-09 Season, please call the RPO box office at (585) 454-2100.  Complete information also will be available online at www.rpo.org by March 1.  Single tickets for concerts in the 2008-09 Season go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, September 2, 2008.


Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, 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 by grants from Monroe County; City of Rochester; National Endowment for the Arts; and New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency. 


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