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RPO's 2013-14 was year of moving forward

January 29, 2015

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For Immediate Release: January 29, 2015
Media Contacts:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, sally@sallycohenpr.com
RPO Info:  rpo.org, facebook.com/RochesterPhilharmonic, twitter.com/RochesterPhil, rochesterphilharmonic.blogspot.com

Annual meeting highlights beginnings of progress & excitement for future

Rochester, NY – At its annual meeting today, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) looked back at its 2013-14 fiscal year as a pivotal and productive one, whose recurring theme was one of “Moving Forward.”

Two major events stand out as proof of the RPO’s forward momentum: the naming of Rochester native Ward Stare as its twelfth Music Director in July, and the orchestra’s triumphant return to Carnegie Hall in May.

“Ward’s astonishing successes early in his career demonstrate his readiness to assume his place in the long line of distinguished conductors who have led the RPO over the past 90 years,” said RPO President and CEO Charles Owens.  “It is clear to me that he will be an inspiring leader, a model collaborator, and a game-changing ambassador for the RPO and for symphonic music, embracing the use of technology to deliver our musical product in ways that will be compelling to a new generation of listeners.”

May 7, 2014, was also a proud day for the RPO and all of Rochester, as the orchestra returned to the world’s most famous concert stage—Carnegie  Hall—for  the first time in nearly 30 years. Every corner of the organization and the Rochester community rallied to make this enormous undertaking possible: 250 performers on stage, more than 800 Rochesterians in attendance, and more than two dozen sponsors. It all culminated in a dramatic concert performance of Howard Hanson’s rarely performed opera Merry Mount, earning an enthusiastic ovation from the audience and high praise from local and national press.

Equally important to the organization’s future was the work of the Sustainability Task Force, which presented its report to the board in November 2013 after three intensive months of study. It offered a detailed analysis of the organization’s financial condition and laid out specific strategies to move the RPO into a position of financial stability.

At the same time, the orchestra invited patrons to give their thoughts on concert experiences, and thousands of surveys were returned. This direct feedback on many aspects of the RPO operation—from facilities and guest conductors and their programs, to ushers and ticket buying experiences —was taken very seriously. Both the sustainability report and patron feedback were integral to board discussions that led to its approval in the spring of 2014 of a Moving Forward Plan—a detailed action plan focused on improving the organization’s fiscal health.

“It is clear that this organization needs to change; continuing along the same path will not lead to fiscal stability,” stated RPO Board Chair Dawn Lipson. “Creating the best patron experience possible is part of the plan, and the board and management are aligned in the strategies required. We are proud of the progress we have made since the board’s deliberations more than a year ago.”

Many of these new initiatives involve building the RPO’s internal infrastructure to drive revenue in marketing and development operations—investments that the board deemed an absolute necessity to achieve fiscal stability. In addition, expert guidance was sought from a results-driven arts and entertainment consultant, TRG Arts, for strategies to grow patrons, their loyalty and sustainable income from them. This season’s independent, non-subscription concerts—from Audra McDonald and Kaddish to La Traviata and Video Games Live™—are also signs of the changes underway.

Education and community engagement have been at the core of the RPO’s mission since its founding in 1922. In 2000, the orchestra named 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. Last season, Butterman’s title was changed to Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement in order to reflect the RPO’s renewed commitment to more deeply engage people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. Also last season, the orchestra performed four orKIDStra family concerts as well as Tiny Tots, Primary and Intermediate educational concerts for more than 12,000 Rochester-area schoolchildren.

Like previous seasons, the RPO presented nearly 40 community concerts in 2013-14 that served a diverse population both within and without Monroe County—many free of charge. These included the Around the Town series and summer concerts; as well as RPO ensembles at Camp Good Days and Special Times, Wilmot Cancer Center, and nine Rochester City Schools. More than 100 community instrumentalists participated in the RPO’s first Side-By-Side Concert at Kodak Hall last January, and winners of the RPO Musicians’ Awards for Outstanding Music Educators were recognized during a Philharmonics concert in May.

Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik celebrated 20 years with the RPO with a weekend of celebratory concerts featuring legendary trumpeter and bandleader Doc Severinsen in Kodak Hall in March. This “once-in-a-lifetime concert” featured many of Tyzik’s 200 arrangements, orchestrations and compositions for the orchestra. In addition to his work in Rochester, he’s also Principal Pops Conductor for five other symphony orchestras: Detroit, Dallas, Seattle, Oregon (Portland), and Florida (Tampa/St. Petersburg).

Other 2013-14 highlights included: February’s Black History Month celebration featuring New Morning for the World’s “Daybreak of Freedom” with the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr. narrated by Mayor Lovely Warren; March’s return of Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman; May’s two sold-out performances spotlighting the music of John Williams that featured the long-awaited return of former RPO Artistic Director Robert Bernhardt; and July’s multi-media family hit, Pixar in Concert.

Audience numbers rose slightly for the 2013-14 season, with an approximate attendance total of 168,300 at 164 concerts and broadcasts, compared to the previous season’s 167,000.

In terms of its financial health, the RPO’s revenues increased last year by 7%, from $8.9 million to $9.6 million, although expenses also increased by about 4.5% from $9.4 million to almost $9.9 million. That resulted in an operating loss of $250,000. On the plus side, investment gains helped to boost the RPO’s total net assets by more than a half-million dollars, from $17.8 million to $18.4 million. Memberships and contributions also increased by more than 12% to $3.5 million, up from $3.1 million the previous year, strengthened by major fundraising surrounding the Carnegie Hall project.

An important step toward strengthening its bottom line was the musicians/board mutual ratification in October of changes to the RPO’s 2014-15 Collective Bargaining Agreement—a contract that itself began with significant concessions. The changes address the orchestra’s challenging financial situation, and included a salary freeze, benefit concessions, and a reduction in work weeks for the musicians.

“True progress is only possible if we are all working together,” summarized Owens and Lipson. “In that spirit, we express our gratitude to the musicians and staff of the RPO, not only for the superb performances they play and produce night after night, but also for the faith they continue to demonstrate in the future of this organization by giving the Moving Forward Plan time to take root and begin to yield measurable results.”

Also during the Annual Meeting, the RPO announced the election by the RPO membership of nine members of the Board of Directors: 

Jeremy A. Cooney, Esq. (term to expire January 2017) is the Chief of Staff for the City of Rochester. Prior to joining Mayor Warren’s administration, Mr. Cooney was the Vice President for Development of the YMCA of Greater Rochester and previously was an associate-attorney with Ward Greenberg Heller & Reidy, LLP. He also serves on several community boards, including the Rochester Area Community Foundation, Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, Hochstein School of Music and Dance, Rochester Public Library Board of Trustees, and the Monroe County Board of Health. Mr. Cooney graduated with a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Public Policy Studies from Hobart & William Smith Colleges and obtained his Juris Doctor cum laude from Albany Law School of Union University. In 2011, Mr. Cooney was recognized by the Rochester Business Journal as one of today’s Forty under 40.

La Marr J. Jackson (term to expire January 2018) is a Partner in the law firm of Harris, Chesworth, O’Brien, Johnstone & Welch, LLP, where she practices in the areas of Family and Criminal law. She also is a Hearing Examiner for the City of Rochester. Ms. Jackson received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Central State University, a Master of Science in Education from the State University of New York at Brockport, a Graduate Certificate in Industrial Labor Relations from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from University of Buffalo School of Law. Professional associations include the New York Bar Association, Monroe County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Rochester Black Bar Association, and the Greater Rochester Association of Women Attorneys.

David Lane (term to expire January 2018) is the owner of Dave Lane’s Stereo Shop in Henrietta. He became involved with The Stereo Shop while completing a double major at the University of Rochester in History and at the Eastman School of Music in Violin performance. He has also completed studies at the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester. Mr. Lane was on the Board of Directors for the Hochstein School of Music and Dance from 2006-2012 and served as chairman of its Technology Committee, supervising the installation of the Computer Lab and other technology upgrades. As a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra parent, he is the co-founder of the current RPYO chamber music program and currently serves on the RPYO’s Board of Directors.

Douglas W. Phillips (term to expire January 2018) has been the Senior Vice President for Institutional Resources for the University of Rochester since October 2000. Mr. Phillips earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers College and a Master of Business Administration from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was a Trustee of the American Red Cross endowment in Washington D.C. for two terms ending in December 2009. In 2009, he accepted an appointment to the Investment Committee of Rotary International and the Rotary Foundation, in Chicago. Mr. Phillips is a member of the Investment Advisory Committee for the $157 billion New York Common Retirement Fund. He serves on investment committees of several charitable organizations in the Rochester area and was a Trustee and Investment Committee Chairman for the Strong Museum. He is currently the Investment Committee Chairman of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Fund, Inc., and is an Investment Committee member of the Farash Foundation. He and his wife, Diana, have two college-age daughters and live in Pittsford, New York.

Michael Pietropaoli (term to expire January 2018) attended McQuaid Jesuit High School, followed by Loyola University Maryland. Following his graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in finance, he attended BB&T Bank’s Management Development Program in Winston-Salem, N.C. Mr. Pietropaoli joined M&T Bank in 2005, and during his first two years at M&T Bank, he earned a Master of Science degree in Real Estate Development from Johns Hopkins University, and was awarded the Paul Lee Cordish Scholarship. He returned to Rochester in May of 2013 upon joining M&T’s Rochester Commercial Real Estate Division as Vice President. He resides in Pittsford with his wife and baby daughter.

Christopher N. Pipa (term to expire January 2018) is originally from the Rochester area, and attended Bishop
Kearney High School. He went on to attend Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. where he graduated with a
bachelor’s degree in finance from the Hagan School of Business. Mr. Pipa has also earned the “Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor” designation from the College for Financial Planning. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Elaine, and their two children at their home in Penfield. He also is an avid golfer and a member of Penfield Country Club. 

Dr. Stephen I. Rosenfeld (term to expire January 2018) received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology with High Distinction and his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Rochester, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Omega Alpha. After postgraduate training at the University of North Carolina, Harvard University and Boston University, he returned to Rochester in 1972 to join the faculty of the University of Rochester School of Medicine in Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology. Since retiring as Professor Emeritus in December 2004, he has been serving on the Boards of the Central & Western New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (Chairman of the International Committee, member of the Finance Committee and the National Trustee Council, and Chapter Vice President), the Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival (current President), the Rochester Birding Association, the National Council of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and the Rochester Oratorio Society (Finance Committee).

Katherine T. (Kathy) Schumacher
(term to expire January 2018) holds a master’s degree from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. She taught at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Language and Literature Department for many years and was Writing Director for several years in the College of Liberal Arts before retiring. In addition to her longstanding involvement with the RPO, Ms. Schumacher is a member and past chair of the Rochester General Hospital Foundation Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, and a member of the Friends of Eastman Opera Board of Directors. Having served on the Board of Trustees of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts (now known as the National Guild for Community Arts Education) from 1991-2005 and as board chair from 1998-2002, she is now a member of its advisory board. Ms. Schumacher studies voice at Hochstein and has extensive experience as a choral member with various groups including the Bach Festival Chorus, Third Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, Concentus, and the Rochester Oratorio Society, of which she has been a member for nearly 30 years.

Deborah (Debby) Wilson (term to expire January 2018) is chair of the Elaine P. & Richard U. Wilson Foundation. She has more than 25 years of experience working with nonprofits and is a board member on many local nonprofits including Geva Theatre Center, George Eastman House, Al Sigl Center Foundation, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester Museum & Science Center, and the Seneca Park Zoo. She is a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Patron Services and Marketing Committee, and served on the Music Director Search Committee, which culminated in the appointment of Maestro Ward Stare. Ms. Wilson has a unique perspective of the complexities of the financial needs of nonprofits in today’s market. She feels that it is essential to the health of any community to support the cultural and social activities of these organizations that play such a vital role in the quality of life.

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 160 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Recently appointed 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including 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 Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 12,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note: The RPO’s 2013-14 annual report is available online at ISSUU and at rpo.org. Interviews, as well as photo and footage opportunities, can also be arranged. High-resolution images from last season’s Philharmonics and Pops concerts can be downloaded at docs.google.com/folder and docs.google.com/folder/d.


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