Back to Posts

Art Captures Music: Symphony on Erie An Unqualified Success

Fairport, NY; June 6, 2006 – On Sunday, June 4, approximately 25,000 audience members paddled, walked, or biked their way to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Symphony on the Erie,” the first-ever floating barge concert on the Erie Canal documented live for posterity by internationally-acclaimed Montreal artist Eric Waugh. The spectators lined both banks of the canal, the bridges, and hard-won patches of cement and grass, as well as viewing it from all manner of floating boats – from paddle boats and kayaks to small tethered yachts – to witness this historic event. And no one seemed to move.

“This event surpassed even our wildest dreams, said RPO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik. “Ultimately, everything came together for a perfect concert experience, although it certainly couldn’t have happened without the time, energy, support, and expertise of dozens of hard-working community supporters, for whom the RPO is especially grateful.”

The nearly 90-minute Pops concert conducted by Tyzik took place during Fairport’s annual Canal Days, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.

Waugh, the Guinness record holder for the world’s largest painting, threw himself into the effort, as if choreographed to the music. He painted on a black canvas affixed to a specially designed eight-by-ten-foot metal truss structure, sketching first with white chalk, then – in a Herculean effort – completing the work in the time it took for the concert to finish.

Adding to the drama was the dire weather prediction, which in the morning threatened to “sink” the project and move the concert to a rain location at Fairport’s Minerva Deland School. However, at the morning’s rehearsal, the RPO musicians voted to stay optimistic and carry on with the outdoor concert. By early afternoon, the skies had cleared and the “SS RPO” was ready to launch.

“Symphony on the Erie” was made possible through the support of First Niagara Financial Group.

Celebrating its 83rd season in 2005-2006, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is 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 in which to live, work, play, visit and learn.

Please note: High-resolution digital photos of the event and the painting are available.