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For Immediate Release:  October 24, 2017

Media Contact:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795,



RPO Principal Conductor for Education & Community Engagement steps down after 18 seasons


Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and Michael Butterman announce today that Butterman has decided to conclude his tenure as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) at the end of his current contract, which expires on August 31, 2018. Maestro Butterman will continue to serve in his current RPO position through the 2017/18 season.


“We are grateful for Michael’s years of service and dedication to the RPO,” says RPO President & CEO Curt Long. “As creator, conductor, and host of hundreds of concerts for young people and adults over the past 17 years, Michael has deepened our commitment to inspire, educate, and engage our community through music. The RPO is privileged to have had the substantial contributions that Michael has made to the Orchestra and the Rochester community.”


Butterman was named RPO Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach – the first endowed position of its kind in the country – in 2000, following a two-year search. During his tenure, the Orchestra has refined its approach to education, specifically emphasizing interactive programming that complements classroom curricula. It has also expanded its audience and reach, impacting more than 20,000 students annually.


“Michael has made a tremendous contribution to the RPO family and to our community during his remarkable tenure, passionately sharing his love of music and enriching the lives of audiences of all ages throughout Rochester,” adds RPO Music Director Ward Stare.  “We are especially grateful for the standard of excellence Michael has set for our education programs and know that many thousands of students and families will continue to benefit from his incredible work.”


Butterman’s role has included planning and conducting Sunday Matinee, OrKIDStra, Primary Education, Intermediate Education, Tiny Tots, Around the Town, and City and County concerts. He has also appeared on the Philharmonics and Pops Series, and has conducted the RPO’s annual performances of The Nutcracker with Rochester City Ballet.  In 2011, he conducted the RPO on a recording of The Story of Babar featuring actor John Lithgow. In 2013, he received the Monroe County Music Educators’ Award for his contributions to area school music programs.


“Michael has been deeply committed to the idea that orchestra music is an essential part – not a frivolous extra – in the education of children,” states former RPO Principal Percussionist Bill Cahn, who is also a passionate music educator. “His concerts for Rochester’s children have been everything that an educational program by a symphony orchestra should be: centered on some of the world’s most inspiring classical music; focused and well-thought-out narrations with universal subjects; and interactive experiences that enable students to participate.”


In addition to his RPO position, Butterman is the music director of the Boulder Philharmonic, Shreveport Symphony, and Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestras. He just completed a 15-year tenure with the Jacksonville Symphony, first as associate, and then as resident conductor. A sought-after guest conductor, he’s also led many of the country’s preeminent ensembles, including the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras.


“As my professional responsibilities expand, and in particular, as our daughter prepares to enter high school in the fall of 2018, I feel it important to make adjustments to reduce my travel schedule and workload in general. I do so only after a great deal of reflection, since my work with the RPO has been among the most fulfilling experiences of my life,” says Butterman. “Our primary responsibilities as professional musicians are to communicate the joy of music and to help connect ever more people to its life-enriching power. The RPO embraces these goals, and it has been a privilege to work with my extraordinary colleagues in the Orchestra in the service of this vision.”


Butterman’s conducting highlights in the current season include the following Sunday Matinees: Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” (Nov. 19), Anderson & Roe (April 15), and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 (June3). He will also conduct The Nutcracker (Nov. 22-26) as well as this season’s OrKIDStra finale: Beethoven Lives Upstairs (May 20). Although his official tenure will conclude at the end of the 2017/18 season, he will return to lead several performances in the 2018/19 season, including some OrKIDStra, Sunday Matinee, and Primary Education concerts.


“Michael has been a part of the RPO family for my entire tenure and it has been a joy to work with him on wide-ranging projects that have benefitted our community,” says RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde. “He never fails to brings an inspiring level of commitment to the music and communicates effortlessly with audiences. I always look forward to his educations concerts especially, as he finds dynamic ways to connect students to symphonic music, and their reactions as they experience much of this music for the first time are thrilling. We are sad to see Michael go, but look forward to his return as a guest in the coming seasons.”


The RPO will celebrate Butterman’s 18 years of service with a special concert to be announced.


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 140 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 160,000 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 23-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as principal conductor for education and community engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair), the RPO reaches more than 16,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children. 


Media please note: high-resolution images of Michael Butterman and more are available at, and interviews as well as photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.