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In Memoriam: Douglas Lowry

Douglas Lowry (1951–2013)

Photo courtesy of University of Rochester


Click here to listen to an excerpt from Geo by Douglas Lowry

The RPO dedicates its October 24 and 26 performances to the memory of Douglas Lowry, Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

A gifted composer, Lowry wrote two works which were premiered by the RPO in recent years: Geo, a musical tribute to George Eastman commissioned and premiered by Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for the opening of the renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (October 2009); and The Freedom Zephyr, a musical celebration of Rochester's role in the Underground Railroad, premiered in February 2013.

Click here to listen to an excerpt from Geo. (Audio excerpt used with permission of Local 66 of the American Federation of Musicians and the musicians of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra).


Photo courtesy of University of Rochester

Photo: Kate Melton  
A note from RPO President and CEO Charles Owens:

"Over the past six years, Douglas Lowry worked hard to deepen the myriad ties that have bound our two institutions together since their founding by George Eastman more than 90 years ago. In fact, I believe he has set a new standard for encouraging multi-faceted collaborations between the RPO and the Eastman School. I am proud that the RPO had the opportunity to commission two works from Doug: “Geo,” a musical tribute to George Eastman, written for and premiered at the opening concerts of the renovated Eastman Theatre in October 2009 under the baton of then-Music Director Christopher Seaman; and “The Freedom Zephyr,” a work for narrator and orchestra inspired by Rochester’s role in the Underground Railroad, which premiered at the RPO’s Black History Month concerts in February 2013 under the baton of guest conductor Ward Stare.

I also am grateful for Doug’s enthusiastic support of the RPO’s return to Carnegie Hall; on May 7, 2014, the RPO will be joined by the Eastman-Rochester Chorus and the Bach Children’s Chorus in a concert presentation of the rarely performed 1934 opera “Merry Mount” by Howard Hanson, a longtime director of the Eastman School (1924-1964).

"In addition to his service as an ex-officio member of the RPO Board of Directors and a member of our Music Director Search Committee, I am particularly grateful to Doug for ensuring that the needs of the RPO and our patrons were carefully considered throughout the planning and implementation of the massive Eastman Theatre renovation and Eastman School expansion project—perhaps the most visible symbol of his lasting legacy on his institution and Rochester’s cultural landscape. In October 2011, the RPO awarded its highest honor, The Harmony Award, to Doug Lowry and University of Rochester President Joel Seligman in recognition of their leadership roles in bringing this landmark project to fruition.

"Commissioned works and the building project are but two of the many ways the RPO’s historic ties to Eastman were strengthened during Doug’s tenure as Dean. Other notable examples include the launch of a Conducting Fellows program at the RPO for select doctoral students in conducting; increased opportunities for Eastman performers and composers—both students and faculty—to be represented on RPO concerts; and the RPO’s participation in the final concerto round of the biennial Eastman Young Artists International Piano Competition.

"On a personal level, I will forever be grateful for his wise counsel, his friendship, and his steadfast support.

"All of us in the RPO family deeply mourn the passing of this gifted musician, composer, conductor, administrator, and visionary leader, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Marcia, their family, and to the entire Eastman community. 

Charles H. Owens
RPO President and CEO

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