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Mission and History

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra


To inspire, educate and engage our community through the art of music.

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 94th 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.

Today, the RPO presents more than 120 concerts per year, serving nearly 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Nearly one-third of all RPO performances are educational or community-related. In addition, WXXI 91.5 FM rebroadcasts approximately 30 RPO concerts each year.

The RPO’s long line of notable music directors includes Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Christopher Seaman. Appointed the 12th music director of the RPO in July 2014, Rochester native Ward Stare has been described as a “rising star in the conducting firmament” by the Chicago Tribune. 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. 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.

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. 

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.

News and Notes

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Meet Our Musicians