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The Glorious Music of the Baroque Era is Focus of Next Symphony 101

October 29, 2009

Rochester, NY – The beautiful and highly ornamented music following the Renaissance era in Europe – referred to as the “baroque” period – will get its due at the next Symphony 101 concerts with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Under guest conductor Benton Hess, Musical Director of Eastman Opera Theatre and Artistic Director of Mercury Opera Rochester, the RPO brings “The Glory of the Baroque” to the Performance Hall at Hochstein on Friday, November 20 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 22 at 2:00 pm.

Mr. Hess will lead the RPO in excerpts from George Frederic Handel’s Suite No. 1 and Suite No. 2 from his popular Water Music, as well as his dramatic and intense “Piangero la sorte mia” from Julius Caesar in Egypt. Other pieces include Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D (often heard in film scores), Jean-Féry Rebel’s “Chaos” from Les Elemens (a piece way ahead of its time), and Henry Purcell’s music from Dido and Aeneas. Hess will be joined on stage by soprano Kathryn Lewek for an aria from Bach’s Wedding Cantata, No. 202.

Benton Hess has built an international reputation as conductor, pianist, composer, and teacher.  He has conducted hundreds of performances for dozens of opera companies both here and abroad, encompassing musical styles from the early Baroque to premiere performances of contemporary works.  Widely acknowledged as one of this country’s most respected vocal coaches and accompanists, Mr. Hess has a roster of collaborators with artists such as Nicolai Gedda, Eleanor Steber, and Renée Fleming.  In addition to his positions in Rochester, he also is the Artistic Director of “Si parla, si canta,” an Italian language program for young singers in Urbania, Italy, and Conductor for the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Eastman School of Music alumna and recipient of its Performance Certificate Kathryn Lewek has made a name for herself in Rochester with numerous performances with the Eastman Opera Theatre.  She just made her debut with the Santa Barbara Symphony as soprano soloist in Haydn’s Paukenmesse.  Following Santa Barbara, she is preparing for another debut with the Fairfield County Chorale and Amor Artis Orchestra in Connecticut.  Grand Prize winner of the 2008 Orpheus National Vocal Competition, she also made her first recording that same year.  Ms. Lewek’s second recording – with guitarist Nicholas Goluses and flutist Bonita Boyd – will be released in the near future.

This season’s Symphony 101 Series focuses on four groundbreaking periods in the history of music when composers were writing some of their most influential music.  These engaging and innovative one-hour concerts feature discussion, musical examples, selections from significant works, and complete pieces.  Following each concert, the conductor takes questions from the audience.  New this year will be a Symphony 201 concert on April 18 with pianist Misha Dichter joining Christopher Seaman to demonstrate the style of “Theme and Variations” using Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. 

Special $10 student pricing is in effect for the Sunday Symphony 101 performance.  All other general admission tickets are $24, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100), in-person from the RPO Box Office, and at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  RPO Box Office hours are 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm).

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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