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Musical Friendships Play Out On The Page And On The Stage

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s pair of concerts on Thursday, April 16 and Saturday, April 18 at 8:00 pm at Eastman Theatre featuring the music of Schumann and Brahms have special meaning for Music Director Christopher Seaman and guest pianist John Lill.  Not only were Schumann and Brahms musical colleagues and friends, but so are Seaman and Lill, whose friendship goes back to when Seaman was a young timpani player in the London Philharmonic, and Lill a young guest pianist.   This time, they collaborate onstage for Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2.  The RPO opens the concert with Schumann’s Symphony No. 4.  Seaman will host the pre-concert chat at 7:00 pm. 

Schumann’s Fourth Symphony was influenced by composer Franz Liszt who perfected the form of the symphonic tone poem – music inspired by extra-musical concepts.  Based on a small group of themes, the Fourth Symphony opens with a dark, wistful and romantic introduction, leading into an energetic section.  The slow, song-like movement is followed by a strongly rhythmic movement, ultimately concluding with an exuberant Finale.

The Brahms Second Piano Concerto is full of deep emotion and power.  The opening horn solo announces a simple tune, providing the foundation for Brahms’ skill in building great musical architecture.  The passionate second movement uses musical material originally intended for Brahms’ Violin Concerto.  The radiant slow movement, capturing Brahms at his most serene, opens with a beautiful cello solo.  The Finale serves up a cup of Viennese charm to close the Concerto.

John Lill’s illustrious concert career spans more than 50 years. At 18, he performed Rachmaninoff’s demanding Piano Concerto No. 3 under Sir Adrian Boult, and shortly thereafter made his much-acclaimed London debut at the Royal Festival Hall. Mr. Lill appears in recital and with the world’s foremost orchestras.  He performs throughout Europe, as well as in Russia, the Far East, Australia, Asia, and the United States, where he has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, and the Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington symphonies. In 1970, he won the prestigious Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition.  Mr. Lill last appeared in Rochester in 2007 performing the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 – the Brahms concertos being among more than 70 concertos in his repertoire.  Mr. Lill’s latest recording projects are piano works by Schumann, Brahms, and Haydn for Signum Records.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$56, available online 24/7 at; by phone (454-2100); in-person from the RPO Box Office, 108 East Avenue, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted $9 Philharmonics Series tickets to local students.