October 16, 2009Future Plans Include Lifetime Title of Conductor Laureate and Numerous High-Profile Plans in “A Celebration Beyond Measure”
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Rochester, NY – The stage of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre was filled with emotion this morning, but this time, it wasn’t from the music. At a 10:30 am press conference, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Christopher Seaman, joined by his colleagues, RPO President & CEO Charles Owens; Board Chair Suzanne Welch; and RPO Principal Trombone Mark Kellogg; announced that he will be concluding his tenure as RPO music director at the close of the 2010-11 Season.
Seaman spoke about feeling that he is at “the crest of a wave” and at “the pinnacle of my dreams for the Orchestra” – both artistically and with regard to the renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. He also pointed out that at the conclusion of his contract in 2011, he will have served for 13 years – the longest-tenured music director in RPO history. After two more full years, it will be the “best possible moment to hand over the baton.”
Board Chair Suzanne Welch immediately followed Mr. Seaman to announce that beginning in the 2011-2012 Season, Christopher will be named Conductor Laureate for life. Making some personal and reflective remarks, she also referenced the love that the Rochester community has for Christopher, the popularity of his pre-concert chats and his Symphony 101 Series. RPO Principal Trombone Mark Kellogg (The Austin E. Hildebrandt Chair), a member of the RPO since 1989, represented the musicians as he spoke about his personal and musical recollections of Christopher. “Christopher has done so much to raise the artistic level of the orchestra not only with his musical excellence, but with his exceptional sense of grace and humanity.”
Charles Owens, RPO President & CEO, took the podium to read a quote from Eastman School of Music Dean Douglas Lowry, who was traveling and could not attend the press conference. “Christopher Seaman has led the Rochester Philharmonic through a period of unprecedented artistic growth. His musical leadership has been exemplary. He has been a superb collaborator in the transformation of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. And, from the perspective of a composer who has had the good fortune of having a work both commissioned and premiered by him, it has been a remarkable musical experience.”
Owens described how the RPO’s partnership with Christopher will be entering a new phase. “Starting today,” he said, “the RPO is launching a three-year period of celebration we’re calling ‘A Celebration Beyond Measure.’” Owens went on to detail the plans for the next two seasons and beyond. In addition to the lifetime Conductor Laureate position, these include:
- a release in 2010-2011 of a five-CD boxed set “RPO: The Christopher Seaman Years,” taken from 12 years of live broadcast recordings
- Christopher’s Celebratory Final Philharmonics Series Weekend in June, 2011
- A 70th Birthday Concert and Gala on March 7, 2012
- An invitation to conduct one week of Philharmonics subscription concerts in 2011-2012 and annually beyond 2012, referred to by Owens as what will be “among the most highly anticipated musical events here in Rochester.”
Mayor Robert J. Duffy and Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks each issued a statement when they were given this news. “Christopher Seaman is a superb conductor and a man who exudes class and elegance,” said Mayor Duffy. “His gifted leadership and the talents of the Orchestra’s musicians have brought the Rochester Philharmonic to a new level of world-class prominence, creating one this community’s most significant assets and cultural amenities. I look forward to two years of great celebration of Christopher and many more as he becomes the Orchestra’s Conductor Laureate in 2012.” Maggie Brooks also thanked Christopher for “his many years of service and commitment to the arts, which enjoys tremendous support from our entire community. His contributions to the RPO will be long-remembered.” Brooks also thanked Christopher for his “well-deserved” appointment as Conductor Laureate.
Prior to the press conference remarks, a duo from the RPO featuring Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair) and RPO Principal Keyboard Joseph Werner (The Lois P. Lines Chair) provided a musical prologue.
Note: A biography of Christopher Seaman, highlights of his RPO tenure, a quote sheet of critical acclaim, photos, and frequently asked questions are available on request.
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