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Our Love (of Gershwin) is Here to Stay: Pianist Jon Nakamatsu Returns to RPO

April 17, 2008

Concert Marks the One-Year Anniversary of Gershwin CD Release

Rochester, NY – One year after the release of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s internationally acclaimed Gershwin CD with pianist Jon Nakamatsu, Rochesterians will get another taste for the Gershwin sound they love.  Nakamatsu, one of this city’s favorite pianists, will pair up with Broadway superstar Doug LaBrecque and the RPO on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. in Eastman Theatre for an All-Gershwin Night

Commenting on the RPO’s Gershwin obsession, President and CEO Charles Owens declared with tongue in cheek, “Our audiences will be gratified to know that this is the RPO’s final Gershwin concert until 2018.  ‘Swonderful, ‘Swonderful!”

RPO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik will “strike up the band” with such Gershwin favorites as An American in Paris, the overture to “Funny Face,” and the “Catfish Row” Suite from Porgy and Bess. Nakamatsu is the featured soloist in Rhapsody in Blue from the CD, which helped send the recording to number 3 on the Classical Billboard Charts and in the top 20 for more than six months.  Tenor Doug LaBrecque joins the orchestra for some of the best of Gershwin’s vocal standards, from the mellow “Embraceable You” to the romantic “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and the peppy “I Got Rhythm.” 

Gold Medalist in the 10th Van Cliburn Competition in 1997, Jon Nakamatsu is a frequent concerto soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and solo recitalist throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. His expanding career is based on a deeply probing and illuminating musicality as well as a quietly charismatic performing style. His extensive recital tours throughout the U.S. and Europe have featured debuts at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Miami, Houston, San Francisco, Paris, London and Milan. Mr. Nakamatsu and his duo partner, the renowned clarinetist Jon Manasse, now serve as Artistic Directors of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival.

Doug LaBrecque thrilled theatre audiences as The Phantom and Raoul in Harold Prince’s production of The Phantom of the Opera. Mr. LaBrecque also has starred on Broadway as Ravenal in the Hal Prince revival of Showboat, a role he also performed in Canada and Chicago.  He was featured in Oscar Hammerstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration on Broadway at The Gershwin Theatre, and toured nationally with Les Miserables. Regionally, Mr. LaBrecque has performed leading roles in such musicals as Candide, A Chorus Line and Man of La Mancha. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he is also an active concert soloist with many of the world’s symphony orchestras.

Tickets for these performances begin at $24, 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. The WPOP Series is sponsored by Wegmans.

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. 

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