Rochester, N.Y. — The yellow brick road leads to the Eastman Theatre and the Eastman House on Sunday, May 3 as the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and George Eastman House team up for a special collaboration celebrating the 70th anniversary of the MGM classic The Wizard of Oz — a film that has given us some of our most unforgettable musical memories and for which Eastman House holds in preservation the original camera negatives.
“Cinematic Symphony: Oz & Beyond” begins with a 3 p.m. concert at the Eastman Theatre conducted by Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) as the RPO performs the live score to Oscar®-winning The Wizard of Oz, accompanying the Technicolor® triumph projected on the big screen. Audiences still will hear the memorable singing voices of Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, and Burt Lahr, but the orchestrations will be experienced live. All audience members are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Oz character — lions, and scarecrows, and Dorothys, oh my! This trip over the rainbow will begin one hour prior to the performance with pre-concert movie and music activities as well as character face-painting for the entire family held at the Eastman School of Music in room 120; enter at 26 Gibbs Street.
“Not only does the score include ‘Over the Rainbow’ — recently voted by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts as the greatest song of the 20th century — but it’s full of memorable tunes and imaginative orchestral touches,” said Michael Butterman. “Just as the visual impact of the film is transformed by the transition to color midway through, so will the live sound of the RPO add a vivid dimension to the soundtrack that just can’t be experienced at home.”
The Oz celebration continues with a spectacular evening gala at 5:45 p.m. at Eastman House, featuring an Oz-themed gala dinner paired with a rare showcase of the treasures of the motion picture archive. On-site entertainment will include RPO musicians and Oz-costumed characters portrayed by professional actors and singers. The Eastman House evening will include the Rochester premiere screening of the 1910 silent film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, directed by famed Oz author L. Frank Baum, the earliest film version of the classic story – of which Eastman House holds the only copy in the world. Also presented will be the first sound-recording on film and a 1949 trailer for MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, an unusual three-minute reel that encourages people to see the film again or for the first time, as it marks its 10th anniversary. The Eastman House activities also will feature a display of memorabilia from the 1939 classic film. Eastman House houses the world’s largest Technicolor® film collection, including many of the original negatives — the actual film in the camera when the movie is shot.
“The audience at George Eastman House will have a chance to see treasures from the collection that have not been seen, in some cases, since they debuted 100 years ago,” said Ed Stratmann, interim curator of motion pictures. “And only George Eastman House can offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Cinematic Symphony” gala is a joint fundraiser for Eastman House and the RPO, which was founded by George Eastman in 1922 as the orchestra for Eastman Theatre. The event is presented by the Elaine P. and Richard U. Wilson Foundation, with additional concert support by Wendy’s. This celebration of these Rochester cultural icons is part of the yearlong recognition of the City of Rochester’s 175th anniversary.
Tickets to the RPO concert begin at $24 (children’s tickets start at $18) and can be purchased online at www.rpo.org; by calling the RPO at (585) 454-2100; in-person at the RPO Box Office (108 East Ave.); and at area Wegmans. A convenience fee may apply. RPO Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday (10 a.m. to 3 p.m. non-concert Saturdays). The gala dinner at Eastman House includes a ticket to the afternoon concert and starts at $175, with sponsor tables available. For more information, visit www.rpo.org or www.eastmanhouse.org.
This event marks the culmination of the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House film series that celebrates the work of director Victor Fleming.
Eastman House programs and 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.
About George Eastman House
Located on the estate of Kodak founder George Eastman, the father of popular photography and motion picture film, George Eastman House is one of the most important film archives in the world. Founded in 1947, the archive houses 30,000 film titles and 3.5 million pieces of film-related publicity stills, posters, scores, scripts, and pre-cinema artifacts. It is the archive of choice for many filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee. Eastman House also holds the world’s largest technology collection with 20,000 pieces of camera technology. Its Selznick School, established by L. Jeffrey Selznick, son of famed film producer David O. Selznick, is regarded as the premier school of professional training in film preservation, restoration, and archiving. George Eastman House restores more than 500 reels of film on average each year.
About the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music, presenting nearly 200 performances each season to a combined audience of an estimated quarter of a million people, including more than 70,000 who experience the RPO’s broad range of educational and community programs. 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.