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RPO's 16-17 Season Announced

February 09, 2016

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For Immediate Release: February 9, 2016
Media Contacts:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, sally@sallycohenpr.com
RPO Inforpo.org, facebook.com/RochesterPhilharmonic, twitter.com/RochesterPhil, rochesterphilharmonic.blogspot.com, instagram.com/rochesterphilharmonic


Music Festival, Mozart’s Requiem, Star Wars and More
Jon Nakamatsu opens season, La Bohème closes
Music of the Eagles
at Kodak Center for Performing Arts


Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announced its 2016/17 season this evening in grand style in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. With the entire orchestra performing selected excerpts on stage, Music Director Ward Stare once again previewed the RPO’s upcoming season to an enthusiastic full house – a tradition that he began last year for his inaugural season.

“Our upcoming 94th season is a spectacular one, and Rochester can be very proud,  not only of this world-class orchestra, but also of what the RPO contributes to the quality of life here,” says 33-year old Stare, a Rochester native who became the orchestra’s 12th and youngest music director in 2014. “We have not only restored the Philharmonics season to 14 concerts that will spotlight American composers as well as classic masterpieces, but we’ve added some exciting Special Concerts that will appeal to new audiences.”

One of those exciting Special Concerts is undoubtedly a highlight of the RPO’s 2016/17 season: world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 7 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, with Maestro Stare conducting. New and renewing subscribers to a 2016/17 Philharmonics, Pops, Compose-Your-Own or Sunday Matinee Series package will get pre-sale access.

Both the Philharmonics(sponsored by M&T Bank) and the Pops Series (sponsored by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust) will kick off with Rochester favorite, Jon Nakamatsu, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary season of his gold medal win at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He appears with Ward Stare for Stare Conducts Beethoven 7 + Nakamatsu Returns on September 15 and 17, performing Rachmaninoff’s popular and passionate Piano Concerto No. 2. He then plays Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue with Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik for Gershwin Favorites on September 30 and October 1. That concert celebrates the 10th anniversary of Nakamatsu’s Gershwin CD release with the RPO and Tyzik that rose to #3 on the Billboard charts. Tenor Doug LaBrecque, RPO Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair), and the Rochester City Ballet (David Palmer, artistic director) join the fun.

RPO Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman (The Christopher Seaman Chair, Supported by Barbara and Patrick Fulford and The Conductor Laureate Society) returns on October 13 and 15 for Seaman Conducts Elgar & Beethoven, featuring Elgar’s Symphony No. 2 and the “brilliant” (Chicago Tribune) Andrew von Oeyen on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Ward Stare celebrates Rochester’s long history of championing American music with a three-weekend-long American Music Festival. The Festival begins with Diamond, Gershwin & Copland on Sunday, October 23 at the Performance Hall at Hochstein as part of the Sunday Matinee Series. The program includes renowned Rochester composer David Diamond’s Rounds, Gershwin’s Lullaby, and Copland’s The Tender Land Suite.

The Festival continues on October 27 & 29 with American Music: Stage and Screen (sponsored by Constellation Brands), featuring the RPO debut of Dr. Atomic Symphony by John Adams – arguably America’s greatest living composer – as well as The Unanswered Question, a cosmic soundscape by American maverick, Charles Ives. The program also features the RPO debuts of John Williams’ For New York (Variations on Themes of Leonard Bernstein) and Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” Variations, as well as a suite from Bernstein’s iconic film score for On the Waterfront. Pianist Andre Russo guests.

Stare concludes the Festival on November 3 & 5 with Higdon, Copland & Barber. The RPO debut of Jennifer Higdon’s Grammy-winning Percussion Concerto will feature the “world’s finest percussionist” (The Spectator) for whom it was written, Colin Currie. The concert fittingly concludes with what many have deemed the Great American Symphony: Copland’s Symphony No. 3, which includes the iconic Fanfare for the Common Man.

Another Philharmonics Series highlight, Mozart’s Requiem, takes place February 2 & 4, 2017, with Maestro Stare and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus (William Weinert, director), made possible by The Mozart Performance Fund: Sarah D. Atkinson, M.D. and Steven Hess. The Rochester Oratorio Society (Eric Townell, director)will take center stage for Handel’s Messiah, led by guest conductor Christopher Warren Green, on Saturday, December 10 (8 p.m.) & Sunday, December 11 (2 p.m.). Other Philharmonics concerts include:

  • Ehnes Plays Beethoven on January 12 & 14, 2017, with Ward Stare and Grammy-winning violinist James Ehnes.
  •  Stare Conducts Shostakovich 5 on January 26 & 28, with opera star and Eastman School of Music graduate Nicole Cabell, winner of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
  • Romantic Classics with Stare & Denk on February 16 & 18, featuring the return of pianist Jeremy Denk (made possible by The Alfred Davis and Brunhilde Knapp Artists Performance Fund) for Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2, plus selections from Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette.
  • Stare Conducts Brahms 1 on March 2 & 4, with Argentine pianist Ingrid Fliter playing Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
  • Rachmaninoff & Tchaikovsky on March 9 & 11, with Philadelphia Orchestra’s Cristian Măcelaru guest conducting Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 and pianist Natasha Paremski’s “astonishing power and speed” (Chicago Classical Review) on Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.    
  • Stare Conducts Mahler 5 on April 20 & 22.
  • Debussy’s La Mer with a Rochester favorite, guest conductor Fabien Gabel, on May 11 & 14, featuring Concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair) on Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2. Athayde’s performance is made possible by the Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund.

The grand finale to the 2016/17 Philharmonic Series is Puccini’s La Bohème on May 25 & 27, a complete concert performance of the beloved opera led by Ward Stare, sponsored by The Gouvernet Arts Fund and The Haskell Rosenberg Memorial Fund for Opera.


Starting off with the aforementioned Gershwin opener, Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik announced next season’s Pops Series offerings via video:

  • Soul Unlimited with Ellis Hall on October 21 & 22, with Ray Charles protégé and former Tower of Power lead singer, Ellis Hall. Jeff Tyzik conducts.
  • Cirque de la Symphonie returns on November 18 & 19, conducted by Ward Stare.
  • Gala Holiday Pops celebrates its 23rd season on December 16, 17 & 18 with Jeff Tyzik and the Festival High School Chorale (Amy Story & Harold McAulliffe, co-directors).
  • Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II on January 20 & 21 features classic Looney Toons favorites on the big screen with live music by the RPO and guest conductor George Daugherty, plus two new Warner Bros. cartoons presented in 3D.
  • Two-time Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster (and star of TV Land’s Younger) makes her RPO debut on February 10 & 11 with Jeff Tyzik.
  • The Hot Sardines’ vintage jazz with a modern edge makes its RPO debut March 24 & 25 with Jeff Tyzik.
  • Star Wars and More: The Best of John Williams celebrates the American master of film music on April 28 & 29 with guest conductor Stuart Chafetz.
  • The 2016/17 Pops Season closes with Jeff Tyzik’s debut of his latest exciting program, Women Rock, on June 2 & 3, featuring the music of Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Pat Benatar, and more.


Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) also made a video appearance, to announce the 2016/17 OrKIDStra Series. All four concerts take place at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Performance Hall at Hochstein and offer free, hands-on activities starting at 1 p.m.:

  • The Pirates of Penzance – Opera for Kidson October 9, featuring Eastman School of Music vocal and opera students (Steven Daigle, director) in a semi-staged version of this comic tale. Steven Byess guest conducts.
  • Wands & Wizards: The Magical Music of Harry Potter on November 13, with guest conductor Vinay Parameswaran of the Nashville Symphony.
  • Symphonic Tales from Around the World on March 19 with Maestro Butterman.
  • 100th Anniversary of America’s National Parks on May 21, with photography and music by photographer/composer Stephen Lias. Michael Butterman conducts.


The 2016/17 Sunday Matinee Series, also at the Performance Hall at Hochstein, includes:

  • Beethoven & Haydn on October 2 with Ward Stare and recently appointed Principal Cello Ahrim Kim (The Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Chair).
  • October 23rd’s Diamond, Gershwin & Copland is the American Music Festival opener (previously mentioned).
  • ·         Music of Mozart follows on January 22 with Concertmaster Juliana Athayde and RPO Principal Violist Melissa Matson playing Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola. Michael Butterman also conducts Mozart’s Symphony No. 39. Made possible by The Mozart Performance Fund: Sarah D. Atkinson, M.D. and Steven Hess.
  • ·         Next up is Guitar Romances on February 19 with Eastman School of Music Professor of Guitar Nicholas Goluses and Maestro Butterman, featuring music of Villa-Lobos and Rodrigo.
  • Ravel’s Mother Goose Suiteon April 30 features Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair), Principal Bassoon Matthew McDonald (The Ron and Donna Fielding Chair) and guest violinist Charles Wetherbee, with Michael Butterman.
  • ·         Butterman also conducts Bach & Stravinsky on June 4 with guest pianist Simone Dinnerstein.


In addition to Yo-Yo Ma on December 6th, the RPO’s Special & Holiday Concerts include:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses – Master Quest on Friday, November 11. This multi-media spectacle features 28 years of music from Nintendo’s video game series performed live by your RPO with guest conductor Amy Andersson, while HD Zelda videos are projected on the big screen.
  • The Nutcracker with Rochester City Ballet (David Palmer, artistic director) and the Bach Children’s Chorus (Karla Krogstad, director), November 23, and 25-27. Michael Butterman conducts this Rochester holiday tradition, sponsored in part by Caldwell.
  • Music from The Polar Express & Frozen(OrKIDStra special at the Performance Hall at Hochstein) on Sunday, December 4. Two holiday favorites come alive with music and narration.
  • Handel’s Messiah (previously mentioned) on Saturday, December 10 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 11 at 2 p.m.
  • Gala Holiday Pops (previously mentioned), December 16-18.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark – Film with Orchestra, Friday, January 6. Relive the magic on the big screen while John Williams’ epic score is performed live by the RPO.
  • Six-time Grammy Award-winner Amy Grant makes her RPO debut on Saturday, January 7.
  • The Music of the Eagleson Friday, April 7 at Kodak Center for Performing Arts, formerly Theater on the Ridge (200 Ridge Road West, Rochester 14615), a debut for the RPO! Brent Havens returns with a full rock band to join the RPO and perform Eagles’ classic hits including “Heartache Tonight,” “Desperado,” and “Hotel California.” Patrons can enjoy free, onsite parking.


RPO 2016/17 Subscriptions went on sale immediately following the announcement concert to renewing subscribers, and to new subscribers on Monday, February 15 at 10 AM. Subscribers get the best seats at the best prices, saving up to 27% off single ticket prices. Philharmonics Series offers new four-concert packages starting at $126, seven-concert packages from $143, and 14-concert packages from $248. Five-concert Pops packages start at $110, and the full series with all nine concerts starts at $172. OrKIDStra subscriptions are available for $41 and the Sunday Matinees Series for $145. All subscribers, excluding OrKIDStra, get presale access to Yo-Yo Ma, which is expected to sell out to subscribers. Additional subscriber benefits include an invitation to an open rehearsal in the fall, free and easy ticket exchanges, presale priority for all RPO concerts, a discount restaurant coupon book, a subscriber-only Will Call table and more. Subscribers can also add non-subscription tickets to their purchase immediately, guaranteeing priority seating. To subscribe, please call (585) 454-2100 or visit rpo.org. Single tickets will go on sale on July 29. 


The RPO’s 2016/17 series sponsors include M&T Bank (Philharmonics Series) and Canandaigua National Bank & Trust (Pops Series). Individual concert sponsors include Constellation Brands (American Music: Stage & Screen), The Gouvernet Arts Fund (Puccini’s La Bohème), and Caldwell (The Nutcracker). RPO performances are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by Monroe County, the City of Rochester, the Alfred Davis and Brunhilde Knapp Artists Performance Fund, the Mozart Performance Fund: Sarah D. Atkinson, M.D. and Steven Hess, and the Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund.


The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) 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. 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 22-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 endowed 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: High-resolution images and a complete listing of 2016/17 concerts are available at http://ow.ly/XTOa6, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.



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