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A Musical Voyage to Mystical Destinations

Rochester, NY – A musical voyage ushered in by the new year takes place on Thursday, January 10 and Saturday, January 12 at 8 p.m. in Eastman Theatre, as the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra transports audiences to the mountains and dark forests of Finland, through the regal architecture of 18th century Vienna, and into the deepest regions of the human psyche, in Zarathustra!  Making his RPO debut is Estonian guest conductor Eri Klas, pushing the imagination with Sibelius’ En Saga, Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major — featuring the RPO’s principal cello, Stefan Reuss (The Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Chair) – and Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.  WXXI Music Director Julia Figueras, assisted by Mr. Reuss, hosts the pre-concert chat at 7 p.m. 

Sibelius’ En Saga is a musical depiction of the mystery, adventure and romance of the landscape of Sibelius’ native Finland. Inspired by the scenery as well as by Finnish folklore, the work paints a powerful background to Finnish mythology and legend.  Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major sends listeners to a completely different corner of the world.  The influence of the regal city of Vienna, Haydn’s residence for almost 50 years, is apparent in this lavish and stately concerto. The work features an elegant first movement, a lyrical second and a playful, mischievous Finale.

The second half of the concert takes listeners on an introspective journey.  Made famous as the opening of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Richard Strauss’ tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra was inspired by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s weighty, passionate discourse of the same name.  Strauss wanted to “convey an idea of the evolution of the human race, from its origins through the various phases of development, religious as well as scientific, up to Nietzsche’s idea of the ‘super-man.’”  Zarathustra’s majestic beauty and power showcased a new set of orchestral possibilities when it was premiered in 1896.

Native Estonian conductor Eri Klas – who considers his musical “godfather” to be the legendary violinist and conductor David Oistrakh – frequently guest conducts throughout North America.  Since his American debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1991, Klas has conducted the Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, National and Montreal symphonies. Currently Artistic Director of the Tallinn Philharmonic in Estonia, Mr. Klas has guest conducted the Berlin, Munich, and Rotterdam philharmonics.  He is closely associated with leading contemporary composers, often premiering works by Schnittke, Pärt, Gorecki, Tamberg, Tubin and Ellis.  A former Estonian lightweight junior boxing champion, he is a member of the Estonian Olympic Committee, Chairman of the Estonian Cultural Foundation and a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. 

Since his appointment as principal cello of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1988, German-born Stefan Reuss appears frequently as soloist with the Orchestra, performing pieces of various styles from his vast repertoire. Co-Artistic Director of Chamber Music Rochester with his RPO colleague Joseph Werner, he also directs a series of Salon Concerts at the Academy of Medicine, and is a founding member of the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$55, available online 24/7 at, by phone (454-2100); in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by The Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students.  Stefan Reuss’ appearance is made possible by The Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, 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 recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.  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 and the City of Rochester.