Hansel & Gretel; The Nutcracker; Muppet Christmas Carol; Bach, Martin + Mozart; & Gala Holiday Pops
Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) kicks off the 2021 Holiday Season with Engelbert Humperdinck’s retelling of the famous Grimm Brothers’ Hansel & Gretel on Thursday, November 18 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, November 20 at 8 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Since it debuted on December 23, 1893, in a concert conducted by Richard Strauss, this Fairytale Opera in Three Acts remains Humperdinck’s most popular work and has become indelibly linked to the Christmas season. RPO Music Director Andreas Delfs will conduct the semi-staged production, with stage direction by Grant Preisser. Sung in English, the opera features Reilly Nelson (Hansel, mezzo-soprano), Rachele Gilmore (Gretel, soprano), Stephen Powell (Father, baritone), Katherine Ciesinski (Mother, mezzo- soprano), Catherine Martin (Witch, mezzo-soprano), Jasmine Habersham (Sandman & Dew Fairy, soprano) and the Eastman Children’s Chorus (Karie Schroer Templeton, director).
“One of my earliest memories is a performance of Hänsel und Gretel in my hometown theater in
Germany, and to this very day I am filled with awe and anticipation when that beautiful overture begins,”
exclaims Maestro Delfs. “I look forward to sharing this beloved European holiday tradition with all my
new friends in Rochester!”
Rochester’s longest-running holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, returns live and in-person to Kodak Hall on Wednesday, November 24 at 7 pm; Friday, November 26 at 2 & 7 pm; Saturday, November 27 at 2 & 7 pm; and Sunday, November 28 at 2 pm. Partnering with Rochester City Ballet (RCB) for their 21st mutual Nutcracker, the orchestra will be led by Tara Simoncic, who conducted 2019’s production and was scheduled to conduct last year’s canceled performances as well. Simoncic’s particular passion for the ballet has led her to guest conduct with some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies, such as the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and American Ballet Theater. Although he has led Rochester City Ballet since February of 2020, Artistic Director Robert Gardner will make his RPO debut with this year’s production.
“This collaboration between the RPO, conductor Tara Simoncic, and the artists of the Rochester City Ballet along with the delightful children’s cast of 150 young dancers from throughout the Rochester area brings this cherished holiday tradition to life once again,” says Gardner. “I look forward to the wonderment and joy that will fill our audience’s hearts.”
The Bach Children’s Chorus (Karla Krogstad, director) will return as well for this treasured family event. The Nutcracker is sponsored in part by Caldwell Manufacturing.
Next up on the holiday calendar is the North American premiere of The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert Live to Film on Saturday, December 11 at 6:30 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The 1992 film, starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge and Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, features an original score by Miles Goodman (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors) with songs by Oscar®, Emmy® and Grammy®-winning songwriter Paul Williams. Colorado Symphony Resident
Conductor Christopher Dragon will lead the RPO while the beloved film plays on the big screen. This presentation is licensed by Disney Concerts.
Then, Andreas Delfs returns to lead the RPO’s second Sunday afternoon matinee of the season on December 12 at 2 pm at Nazareth’s College’s Beston Hall at Glazer Music Performance Center. Bach, Martin + Mozart opens with Overture to Lucio Silla, written at the prime of J.C. Bach’s career. Next is Frank Martin’s 1949 Concerto for 7 Winds, Timpani, Percussion and Strings – a brilliant study in composition and balance. Rounding out the program is Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, the “Jupiter Symphony,” the longest and last of the great composer’s symphonic works, which is regarded by many as one of the greatest symphonies in classical music.
Finally, another of Rochester’s premier holiday memory-makers, Gala Holiday Pops, returns to Kodak Hall for four performances: Friday, December 17 at 8 pm; Saturday, December 18 at 2 & 8 pm; and Sunday, December 19 at 2 pm. Led by RPO Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, who originated the seasonal favorite 28 years ago, this year’s edition will feature renowned Rochester vocalist Kearstin Piper Brown. As is traditional, the concert will feature members of the RPO family as well: Principal Cello Ahrim Kim (The Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Chair) on “O Holy Night,” and Principal Percussion Jim Tiller (The Marie-Merrill and George M. Ewing Chair) on “The Skater’s Overture.” The program also includes many popular arrangements and compositions by Tyzik, such as his Nutcracker Mini Jazz Suite, Chanukah Suite, and The 12 Gifts of Christmas.
“Every holiday season is a special time for our RPO family, but this year is extra special now that we can
once again gather together in the Eastman Theater and share our music with you,” adds Tyzik. “I’m
thrilled to have soprano Kearstin Piper Brown join us as we perform holiday favorites and share the
wondrous, warm, and winter sounds of your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.”
All tickets are available online anytime at rpo.org, by phone at 585-454-2100 (Monday-Friday, 10 am –5 pm, please note that the Patron Services Center is currently closed to in-person purchases), and in person 90 minutes prior to curtain at the Eastman Theatre Box Office (433 East Main St.) for Kodak Hall concerts.
Please note: Patrons aged 12 and up are required to show proof of vaccination plus photo ID, and all patrons are required to wear masks during the entire performance. Venue capacity has been raised to 80%, but socially distanced areas are available for those with unvaccinated children or those who feel more comfortable with social distancing. The RPO continues to monitor CDC, state, and local guidelines, so protocols are subject to change.
The Pops Series is sponsored by Wegmans and Canandaigua National Bank. Since the 2020-2021 Season, M & T Bank has sponsored the Philharmonic and Pops Series and continues its commitment as a Co-Sponsor for the 2021-22 Season. They are joined by Co-Sponsor Rochester Regional Health, now in its fourth year as a season sponsor. All concerts, artists, and schedules are subject to change.
ABOUT THE RPO: The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its origins 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. Music Director Andreas Delfs joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, now in his 28th season, has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO. The RPO reaches more than 15,000 youth through its specific education programs.
Media please note: High-resolution images are at https://tinyurl.com/yuj7ktfz. Interviews and photo/footage opportunities are also available.