RPO Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

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Mission and History

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra


To perform and present a broad range of quality music; attract, entertain and educate audiences with superior musical performances; maintain and build the Orchestra’s national reputation; and enhance the reputation of the Rochester community as a place to live, work, play, visit and learn.

Since its founding by George Eastman in 1922, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music. Now in its 91st year, the RPO looks forward to maintaining its high standard of artistic excellence, unique tradition of musical versatility, and deep commitment to education and community engagement.

The RPO’s long line of notable music directors includes Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Christopher Seaman. The RPO also has performed under the batons of such renowned guest conductors as Fritz Reiner, Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Thomas Beecham, and Leopold Stokowski. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO, and was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame in 2012 as part of its inaugural class.

The Orchestra is also at the vanguard of music education, naming Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair)—the first position of its kind in the country.

In 2002, the RPO received the New York State Governor’s Arts Award for excellence and community service. In 2005, 2006, and 2012, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Symphony Orchestra League honored the RPO with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, recognizing the Orchestra’s commitment to music written in the last 25 years. 

Today, the RPO presents nearly 200 concerts per year, serving an estimated quarter of a million people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. RPO concerts also are rebroadcast on WXXI 91.5 FM.

As one of the great American orchestras, the RPO aspires to be an institution driven by a culture of confidence, adventure, excellence, and success; the premier cultural organization in the region and the hub of cultural life year-round; and recognized nationally for artistic and organizational excellence, creativity, and innovation.

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