Back to Posts

All Aboard! Journey to the North Pole with RPO on the Polar Express

Rochester, NY – This holiday season, “The Polar Express” makes a special musical stop in Rochester for An orKIDStra Holiday, a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert featuring music inspired by the best-selling children’s book, The Polar Express.  On Sunday, December 9 at 2 p.m. in the Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs Street), Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman (the Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) leads the RPO in what is sure to be a new holiday tradition.  Designed for families with children ages 3-9, the concert also will feature new and seasonal favorites with an audience sing-a-long.  Performing alongside the RPO will be more than 150 local children from the combined choirs of the Amadeus Chorale (directed by Darla Bair) and the Bach Children’s Chorus, in residence at Nazareth College (directed by Karla Krogstad).  Baritone Evan Thomas Jones will sing the solo role in The Polar Express.  The orKIDStra Series is sponsored by Wendy’s Restaurants of Rochester.

The music The Polar Express was written in 1997 by Robert Kapilow, an Eastman School of Music graduate (MA ‘77), who adapted the libretto from Chris Van Allsburg’s popular holiday story of a boy who boards a mysterious train bound for the North Pole.  “Van Allsburg has taken all the basic elements of Christmas — Santa Claus, presents, etc. — and invented a completely new story, making those elements come alive in a completely new way,” explains Kapilow, who similarly has woven familiar fragments of beloved Christmas music including Deck the Halls, Joy to the World, and The First Noel and reinvented them in a new piece.

With his diverse array of talents and his infectious enthusiasm, Kapilow has been compared to Leonard Bernstein for bringing the pleasures of classical music to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  What characterizes all of Kapilow’s work is his ability to create an “aha” moment for his audiences and collaborators, and his dedication to the idea of bringing music into people’s lives.  Kapilow helps people to understand how music can enrich, reflect and enhance their daily lives – whether through his “What Makes It Great?” presentations, his “Family Musik” pieces and shows, or his “Citypieces” compositions.

The local Amadeus Chorale and the Bach Children’s Chorus are composed of talented young singers ages 8-15.  This is the first time these two children’s choirs will be performing onstage together.

Baritone soloist Evan Thomas Jones is currently pursuing his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music, and is known for his versatile and engaging performances.  As a soloist at opera companies around the county, Jones has performed repertoire from Mozart to Gershwin, and most recently was heard as a soloist in the RPO’s opening night performance of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. 

General admission tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for children, 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.

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.