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DR. DAVID HARMAN STEPS DOWN AS RPYO MUSIC DIRECTOR

April 29, 2014

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For Immediate Release: April 29, 2014
Media Contacts:   (RPO) Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, sally@sallycohenpr.com
RPO Info:  rpo.org, facebook.com/SuperRPO, twitter.com/SuperRPO, rpo-land.blogspot.com

DR. DAVID HARMAN STEPS DOWN AS RPYO MUSIC DIRECTOR
After 21 years, his final concert is season closer on May 11
D
r. Harman inspired more than 800 area young people to excellence

Rochester, NY – As announced in the fall, Dr. David Harman will step down as Conductor and Music Director of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra after 21 years following the RPYO’s 2013-14 season closer, Musical Friendships, on Sunday, May 11 at 3 p.m. in Hale Auditorium at Roberts Wesleyan College.

“It has been a tremendous honor and great privilege to serve as music director of the RPYO and to be part of the RPO’s Education Department, and I will very much miss working with the wonderful young people,” says Harman. “Although my positions as Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities at The U of R River Campus and Music Director of the Penfield Symphony will remain unchanged, I feel that retiring from my duties with the RPYO will provide more time to spend with family and explore new directions at this stage of my life.”

Harman celebrated his 20th anniversary with the RPYO in its 2012-13 season with a commissioned work written in his honor by Rochester-born composer Carson Cooman: Lilac Jubilee. In 2013, The RPYO gave the piece its world premiere at Carnegie Hall and its Rochester premiere in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre during its annual Side-by-Side Concert with the RPO. 

“Over the past 21 years, David Harman has left a lasting legacy on the RPO by building what is widely viewed as the Rochester region’s premier ensemble for high school-age instrumentalists,” says RPO President and CEO Charles Owens, who will pay tribute to Dr. Harman at the beginning of the RPO’s own season closer (Holst’s The Planets) on Saturday, May 31 at 8 p.m. “At the same time, he has helped to nurture the talents of hundreds of gifted young musicians—a  number of whom have gone on to pursue music in this country’s leading symphony orchestras and many more who will carry with them a lifetime of love and respect for symphonic music.”

A symphony orchestra composed of more than a hundred young musicians in grades eight through 12 from schools throughout the greater Rochester area, the RPYO is sponsored by the Education Department of the RPO, whose musicians have served as mentors and coaches since it began in 1970.

“Dr. Harman has always welcomed the collaborative efforts of the RPO mentors, who, in turn, have embraced his work and encouragement of the student musicians,” says RPO harpist Grace Wong, who also serves on the RPYO Board of Directors. “It's an honor to be able to help the kids, and they teach us so much as well!”

Dr. Harman has inspired almost 800 young musicians to new levels of excellence, including conductor, native Rochesterian and former RPYO trombone alumnus Ward Stare, who made his RPO conducting debut last season and will return to conduct next season’s opener with violinist Midori on September 18 & 20 and La Traviata on February 26 & 28.

“Any success that I’ve had in my career so far can be traced back to my days with the RPYO,” says Stare. “I’ll be forever grateful to Dr. Harman.”

Other RPYO/Dr. Harman alumni who have gone on to great success in the classical music field include cellist Patrick Jee with the New York Philharmonic, and Guy Piddington (trumpet) and Jonathan Vinocour (principal violist)—both with the San Francisco Symphony. Many others have continued to perform, to teach music, or—as the RPYO’s main mission is to enhance lives through music rather than to develop professional musicians—to become successful in many other fields of endeavor. For example, Jonathan Vinocour’s two brothers, Joshua Vinocour (a psychologist) and Benjamin Vinocour (an attorney), were also in the RPYO with Dr. Harman.

“All three have a life-long love and appreciation for music that enriches their lives,” says mom Susan Vinocour. “They also made lasting friendships and learned the value of hard work and teamwork. Dr. Harman provided a supportive, safe and warm environment while encouraging the development of their skills. Plus, it kept them too busy to get into any trouble!”

“Each student mattered to him and became an essential part of the orchestra,” explains Susan Basu, who began managing the RPYO when Dr. Harman became music director 21 years ago. “His reward for the time and efforts spent with them has never been personal recognition, but the awareness that he has been able to give something lasting and of great meaning to their lives.”

In addition to his work with the RPYO, the University of Rochester and the Penfield Symphony, Dr. Harman also frequently conducts Rochester’s Cordancia Sinfonietta. He has conducted professional, civic, university, youth and honor orchestras throughout the United States and overseas in Slovenia, Shanghai, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Chile and more. Prior to coming to Rochester, Dr. Harman lived in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was a professor at the University of Louisville and conductor of the University of Louisville Orchestra, the Louisville Civic Orchestra and the Opera Theater Productions. While in Louisville, he served as executive secretary of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and held tenured positions at the University of Connecticut and Colorado State University. A native Californian, Dr. Harman completed undergraduate and master's degrees from California State University at Sacramento and received scholarships to attend the Paris Conservatory and the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. Dr. Harman has had an active solo career as a clarinetist with three solo recordings, numerous recital appearances in major concert halls in London and New York, and several national broadcasts recorded for French, British and American public radio. He also has been recognized by area music associations for his many musical involvements in the Rochester community. In 2005, he was honored by the Monroe County School Music Association as the recipient of its Richard H. Snook Award for significant contributions to music education in the Rochester area. In 2008, the Rochester Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, an association of professional musicians, selected Dr. Harman as Rochester's 2008 Musician of the Year in recognition for his enriching the musical life of Rochester through his work with the RPYO, the PSO, the Strong Medical Orchestra, and the University of Rochester River Campus Symphonic and Chamber Orchestras. He lives in Rochester with his wife Lori Foster.

Musical Friendships will feature RPYO Concerto Competition Winners (Gwen Healy and Timothy Nolan, Oboes; Samantha Martin, Soprano; Brianna Volkmann, Horn; and Annie Jacobs-Perkins, Cello) and the RPYO Cello Ensemble in a program that includes Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1 for Cello Ensemble, Verdi's Overture to La forza del destino, and Elgar's Enigma Variations. Tickets are $10 for adults/$5 for students and seniors, and are available in person at the Eastman Theatre Box Office (433 East Main Street), at all Rochester-area Wegmans, and at the door; by phone at (585) 454-2100 or via www.rpo.org. They can also be ordered through RPYO musicians. 

The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is made up of more than one hundred of the most accomplished middle- and high-school musicians from more than thirty schools in the greater Rochester area. It provides highly enriching musical ensemble experiences to very accomplished young musicians from varied backgrounds. Each year the RPYO presents three full programs of major symphonic works, including a Side-by-Side Concert in Eastman Theatre with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, the RPYO performs in special outreach concerts, enjoys exchanges with other youth orchestras and undertakes a major tour every three years. Musicians are admitted through highly competitive annual auditions each spring, and they rehearse and perform throughout the school year. Applauded for its high level of artistic achievement, the RPYO facilitates the musical, personal, and social development of its musicians within a challenging and supportive environment. Participation in the RPYO provides an excellent musical foundation for future professional or amateur careers in music, as testified by the large number of RPYO alumni playing in professional and semi-professional symphony orchestras and chamber groups throughout the country.

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving more than 150,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Notable former music directors include Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman; Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 20-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair)—the first endowed position of its kind in the country—the RPO reaches more than 13,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children. The RPO's 2013-14 season highlights include Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik's 20th anniversary celebration, and a performance at Carnegie Hall on May 7, 2014, as part of the Spring For Music festival.

Media please note: High-resolution photos of Dr. Harman and the RPYO are available, and photo/footage opportunities as well as interviews can be arranged. There are two rehearsals at which media can preview the May 11 concert with advance notice, please: Sunday, April 27 from 2-5 p.m. at Odyssey Academy (750 Maiden Lane, Rochester 14615); and Sunday, May 4 from 2-5 p.m. at Hale Auditorium in Roberts Wesleyan’s Cultural Life Center (2301 Westside Dr., Rochester 14624). 

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