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Five Local Young Musicians Selected to Perform on NPR’s Hit Show From the Top in Rochester January 20

Media contacts: Kristin Tutino, WXXI, 585-258-0253
                             Amy Blum, RPO, 585-454-7311 x 280

Rochester, New York – WXXI and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) are pleased to announce that five local young musicians have been selected to perform on NPR’s From the Top in a live radio program recorded at 3:00 p.m. at Nazareth College’s Callahan Theatre on Sunday, January 20, 2008. RPYO musicians who will be performing as the Compass String Quartet are Will Cho, 18, a violinist from Rochester; Kieran Hanlon, 17, a violinist from Canandaigua; Michael Sabatka, 18, a violist from North Chili; and Stephen Ryck, 18, a cellist from Penfield. Harvest Zhang, 15, a pianist from Rochester, rounds out the local talent performing on this live-to-tape segment slated for broadcast on March 16, 2008 at 5 p.m. on WXXI-FM 91.5/90.3/FM HD 91.5-1 and public radio stations across the country. Also on the program will be Mairin Srygley, 17, a mezzo-soprano from Baltimore, MD; Zoë Hilbert, 17, an oboist from Oak Park, IL; and Kimani Griffin, 17, a guitarist from Winston-Salem, NC.

Cho, a senior at Brighton High School; Hanlon, a senior at Canandaigua Academy; Sabatka, a senior at Churchville-Chili High School and Ryck, a senior at Fairport High School originally met as members of the RPYO. The Compass Quartet is a scholarship ensemble at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, coached by RPO violinist Patricia Sunwoo. Zhang, a sophomore at Brighton High School, is a student of Harriet Zimmerman at the Eastman Community Music School. Roughly 30 local teen musicians were considered along with hundreds of applicants from a national pool.

“We’re so very happy for William, Kieran, Michael and Stephen,” said David Harman, RPYO’s Conductor and Music Director. “They’ve all been leading members of the RPYO for several years and have contributed tremendously to our Orchestra’s musical accomplishments. They’re special young performers and it will be a treat to hear them showcased in this very special chamber music setting.”

WXXI Public Broadcasting and the RPYO are proud to bring this hit program to Rochester for the first time. Tickets for the show are on sale now by phone (585) 454-2100, online at or in person at the RPO Box Office, 108 East Avenue, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). 

From the Top – heard on WXXI-FM 91.5/ 90.3/ FM HD 91.5-1 on Sundays at 5:00 p.m. – showcases America’s best pre-college classical soloists and small chamber groups between the ages of eight and 18. Host Christopher O’Riley’s quirky and audience-friendly style brings out the often-unexpected offbeat humor and insights of these young musicians.  High-profile performers such as Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Bobby McFerrin have appeared to talk about their musical influences and the development of their careers, in addition to performing together with the young artists.

From the Top is produced in association with WGBH Radio Boston and the New England Conservatory, its home and educational partner, and is distributed by NPR.  Support comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation as well as from radio stations, corporations, foundations and individuals. From the Top is endorsed by the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, the National Association for Music Education, the American Symphony Orchestra League and the Music Teachers National Association.

The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is composed of more than 100 of the most accomplished middle and high school musicians from more than 30 schools in the Greater Rochester area.  Sponsored by the Education Department of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the RPYO was founded in 1970 to provide highly enriching musical ensemble experiences to exceptionally accomplished young musicians from varied backgrounds.  The orchestra performs under the musical direction of Dr. David Harman with additional coaching by members of the RPO.

To learn more about Rochester’s From the Top show and taping, visit  To read more about the show itself, visit