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National Award-Winning Violist to be Featured in RPO’s Around the Town Concerts

October 02, 2006

21-year-old Sphinx Competition Winner Performs in 19th Ward, Hilton and Fairport

Rochester, NY – The considerable talents of 21-year old violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez – Gold Achievement winner of the ninth National Sphinx Competition 2006 – will be featured in three Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra “Around the Town” concerts this October under the direction of guest conductor Robert Franz, Resident Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and a strong and experienced advocate of arts education. 

The series of free concerts will be held on Thursday, October 19 at St. Leo’s Catholic Church (167 Lake Avenue, Hilton); Friday, October 20 at New Life Fellowship in the 19th Ward (330 Wellington Avenue, Rochester); and Saturday, October 21 at Fairport High School (1358 Ayrault Road, Fairport).  All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.  Hernandez will perform Telemann’s Concerto for Viola followed by a special performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364 with RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair).  The program will be rounded out with works by Beethoven, Handel/Harty, Tchaikovsky, Offenbach and Smetana. 

In addition, Hernandez will be visiting Wilson Foundation Academy (200 Genesee Street) on Thursday, October 19 from 1:15-1:45 p.m., and Minerva Deland School (140 Hulburt Road, Fairport) on Friday, October 20 from 12:30-1:00 p.m.  As part of these school outreach activities, he will be speaking and demonstrating for students.

Canadian-born of Dominican parents, the young Hernandez already has performed as a concerto and recital soloist, in chamber music ensembles, and in prestigious summer music festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada.  His recent debut with the Atlanta Symphony was characterized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “… tender, lyrical, loaded with personality.”  He appears with the RPO through the Sphinx/DaimlerChrysler Financial Services Professional Development Program, which also features him in performances with the Seattle and Colorado Symphonies, among others. After Rochester, Hernandez literally goes directly to Carnegie Hall to perform in the debut concert of the Sphinx Harlem Quartet. 

Hernandez began studying violin at age seven, switching to viola five years later.  His early studies took place in Montreal at the Vincent D’Indy College; currently he is beginning his junior year at the Colburn Conservatory in California under the esteemed performer and teacher, violist Paul Coletti. 

The Sphinx Organization is the national non-profit arts and youth development organization committed to diversity in classical music.  Founded in 1996 by MacArthur Fellow Aaron P. Dworkin, Sphinx’s mission is to help overcome the cultural stereotype of classical music, and to encourage the participation of African-American and Latinos in the field.  Four main programming areas include Artist Development, the Sphinx Performance Academy, Classical Connections and the Sphinx Preparatory Institute.  For more information, visit www.sphinxmusic.org.

The Around the Town program is a community partnership in which the RPO comes out of the concert hall into various neighborhoods to perform six free concerts per year designed to engage audiences with light classics and familiar favorites.  Venues include houses of worship and other community locations.  The partner venues assist with promoting the concert in their neighborhood and serve as liaison between the RPO and their community.  Around the Town concerts are sponsored by The Democrat and Chronicle.  

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two ASCAP awards for adventurous programming in recent years.

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; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO.

Note: Interviews and digital color photos of Mr. Hernandez are available upon request.

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