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Music Lovers and Film Buffs Alike Will Revel in Rach 2 with RPO and Prize-winning Pianist

October 16, 2006

Barry Douglas and Rachmaninoff Paired with Shostakovich Centenary Celebration

Rochester, NY – Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 really did in Marilyn Monroe. On hearing this work in the classic 1955 film comedy The Seven Year Itch, her character breathlessly exclaims: “Every time I hear it, I go to pieces!”  Audiences will have an opportunity to experience their own reaction to this gorgeous, lush concerto when the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Barry Douglas perform it on Thursday, November 2 and Saturday, November 4 at 8 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre under the baton of Music Director Christopher Seaman.  The concert’s second half features a performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 — one of the composer’s most powerful and emotionally wide-ranging works. With this performance, the RPO salutes the centenary celebration of Shostakovich’s birth. Maestro Seaman will host the Pre-Concert Chat at 7 p.m. 

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Barry Douglas’ Gold Medal win in the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, after which he has gone on to a major international solo and recording career.  Known throughout the world particularly as a performer of large-scale Romantic repertoire, Douglas performs this season and next with the Pittsburgh, Seattle, and London Symphonies, Netherlands Radio Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. “I have always been struck by the mixture of panache and expressive power which Barry so successfully combines in his playing,” observed Maestro Seaman.  In addition to his performing career, this native of Ireland founded Camerata Ireland, an all-Irish chamber orchestra with players from both Northern and Southern Ireland to celebrate “the wealth of Irish musical talent.”  

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was dedicated to the psychoanalyst, Dr. Nikolai Dahl, who helped the composer out of his three-year writing block.  Its display of warmth and melancholy, attractive and memorable themes, lush orchestral colors and brilliant solo piano part has resulted in its ongoing popularity.  In addition to The Seven Year Itch, it also has been used in Grand Hotel, Brief Encounter, I’ve Always Loved You, Rhapsody, September Affair and Somewhere in Time

During the oppressive regime of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Shostakovich was condemned for writing personalized, pessimistic music rather than the simple uplifting variety that cultural officials wished for.  The dramatic and forceful Symphony No. 10 was written immediately following Stalin’s death in 1953, and is one of the composer’s most universally admired works. This symphony was praised by fellow composer Aram Khachaturian as “an optimistic tragedy, infused with a firm belief in the victory of bright, life-affirming forces.” 

Tickets for these performances are $20-$54, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at all Wegmans Video Departments.  RPO Box Office Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). The Wegmans Video Department is open seven days a week, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. A convenience fee may apply. 

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb. This concert is made possible in part by Zimmer Sales & Services.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students. 

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. 


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