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Dr. James Mick announced as new RPYO Music Director


Dr. James Mick to lead Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) has appointed Ithaca College Assistant Professor of Music Education Dr. James Mick as its fourth music director since it was founded 45 years ago. The three-year agreement fills a vacancy left by the retirement of former RPYO Music Director Dr. David Harman after 21 years at the conclusion of the orchestra’s 2013-14 season.

“We’re very pleased to announce Dr. Mick’s appointment,” says RPYO Board Chair and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) Education Committee Chair David Lane. “We took our time to find the right new Music Director, and James Mick is everything we were looking for.”

The music director search committee included RPYO and RPO board members, administrators and staff, and was formed in the fall of 2013, when Dr. Harman – now RPYO Music Director Emeritus – first announced his decision to retire. Dr. Mick was invited to guest conduct the youth orchestra in rehearsals this spring and at its 2014-15 season closer, Resounding Finale, in May.

“Dr. Mick is a passionate music educator, experienced orchestra conductor, and active double bass performer,” adds RPYO Manager Susan Basu. “Under his inspirational leadership, the RPYO will continue to provide our committed young musicians with excellent, educationally rich, and personally rewarding musical experiences.”

Says Dr. Mick:  “I am deeply honored and delighted to have the opportunity to carry on the rich culture and traditions of the RPYO that David Harman has spent so many years cultivating. My interactions with the students, families, teachers, and administration of the RPYO thus far have been truly inspiring and I am thrilled to build deeper relationships over the coming years. As a young musician, my own personal involvement with the local youth orchestra organization became a cornerstone for my continued involvement in music and for my future profession of sharing the beauty of classical music with younger generations. In turn, I am truly humbled and excited to have the opportunity to make music with the talented members of the RPYO as they are introduced to and perform some of the greatest musical works ever written. In the big picture, these will be the experiences that help to shape our future community and society’s leaders. What an honor!”


In his position as an assistant professor of music education at Ithaca College, Dr. Mick teaches and oversees all underclassmen music education majors through the Introductory Music Education Sequence. He also teaches courses in string pedagogy, orchestral rehearsal techniques, instrumental conducting, and contemporary ensembles in public schools. An active clinician, Dr. Mick has recently presented at many local and national conferences, including the National American String Teachers Association Conference (ASTA), the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic, the New York State School Music Association Summer and Winter Conferences (NYSSMA), and the Florida Music Educators Association Conferences (FMEA). He’s a frequent guest speaker at a variety of institutions of higher education, most recently at Cornell University, the University of Kentucky, and Hartwick College.


Dr. Mick is a passionate supporter of public school music systems, and currently serves as president-elect of the New York American String Teachers Association. His guest-conducting engagements include all-county and all-state orchestras throughout New York, as well as recent all-state and honor ensemble engagements in Alabama, Georgia and Texas. Dr. Mick is also the proud music director of the Ithaca Community Orchestra, which includes a diverse group of musicians with a wide range of ages and experiences. His primary conducting mentors are Alexander Jiménez and Germán Gutiérrez.


An active performer, Dr. Mick has performed double bass with a wide array of ensembles throughout the country, including Symphoria (Syracuse), the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Binghamton Philharmonic, Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, Lone Star Wind Symphony, Central New York Winds, Galen Jeter Big Band, Johnny Case Trio, and even a rock band that performed on Austin’s 6th Street during the famed South by Southwest music festival. As a soloist, Dr. Mick has performed for Gary Karr, Paul Ellison, Jeff Bradetich, Hal Robinson, David Murray, and Joel Quarrington.


Originally a native of Kansas, Dr. Mick has taught elementary and middle school orchestra in Texas, and high school orchestra and jazz in New York. He holds degrees in Music Education from Florida State University (Ph.D.), Ithaca College (M.M.), and Texas Christian University (B.M.E.). His research interests include string instrument vibrato, music preferences, and performance perceptions. He has most recently published articles in the String Research Journal, Contributions to Music Education, The Bridge, and the Florida Music Director. Outside of his academic pursuits, Dr. Mick is an avid bicyclist who enjoys spending time outdoors surrounded by nature, as well as indoors, restoring his 132-year-old downtown Ithaca home.


The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) is a symphonic orchestra comprised of more than one hundred of the most accomplished middle- and high-school musicians from over thirty schools in the greater Rochester area. Sponsored by the Education Department of the RPO, the RPYO was founded in 1970 by the Women’s Committee of the Civic Music Association to provide highly enriching musical ensemble experiences to accomplished young musicians from varied backgrounds. Howard Weiss, then concertmaster of the RPO, was the RPYO’s founding music director from 1970-1989, followed by Darryl One, and then David Harman in 1993.

Since 1970, more than 1700 of the Rochester area’s most talented young musicians have experienced the challenges, rewards and joys of learning symphonic masterworks while playing in the RPYO. These musicians devote themselves to rehearsing and performing great music throughout the school year. In the process they build not only excellent musical skills but also develop lifelong habits of teamwork, diligence, responsibility, and a commitment to the arts.


RPYO alumni currently perform with major symphony orchestras, including the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra –whose current Music Director Ward Stare is an RPYO alumnus – along with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and other professional ensembles here and abroad. Hundreds of other RPYO alumni have become teachers of music or dedicated amateur musicians and supporters of local arts institutions.


Each year the RPYO presents three full programs of major symphonic works, including a Side-by-Side Concert in Eastman Theatre with the RPO. In addition, the RPYO performs in special outreach concerts, enjoys exchanges with other youth orchestras and undertakes a major tour every three years. During the autumn months, members of the RPYO also meet as a Chamber Orchestra to explore the repertory for smaller orchestra.


Musicians are admitted through highly competitive annual auditions each spring. They rehearse throughout the school year and receive coaching throughout the year by members of the RPO. To further its educational and musical goals, the RPYO has organized various tours over the years. Under the musical leadership of David Harman, it has performed in England (1995), Germany (1998), and France (2001), Italy (2004), Poland, Slovakia and Hungary (2007), Canada’s Québec Province (2010), and New York City’s Carnegie Hall (2013).

The RPYO has taken part in youth orchestra festivals and exchanges and has appeared on videotaped programs for PBS, Eastman Kodak, Rochester’s public television station WXXI- Channel 21, and Young Audiences, Inc. Its performances have been broadcast live on occasion over Rochester’s public radio station WXXI-FM 91.5. In the fall of 2011, it was featured on WXXI-FM’s live performing arts program “Backstage Pass”.


The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Recently appointed 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 20-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair)—the first position of its kind in the country—the RPO reaches more than 12,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.