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Media Contact: Dawn Kellogg
Interim VP of Marketing & Communications
(585) 330-2363




 This new, FREE series, part of RPO @ Home, will begin with a musical streaming event available starting on March 15th in partnership with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.


February 23, 2021. Rochester, NY —The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is pleased to announce a series of free, streamed musical events dedicated to the fight for social justice entitled Truth is of No Color: Concerts for Social Justice. This series of monthly events will be part of the orchestra’s RPO @ Home streaming series and will be free to viewers.


For over a year, RPO staff, musicians and board members have been in thoughtful discussions on how the RPO is modeled as an institution, and functions in our community. The RPO takes great pride in creating and sharing music, and are intent on ensuring that their musical work serves everyone across this art-loving region. “Last June a group of RPO musicians conducted by Herb Smith performed at a Black Lives Matter rally at MLK, Jr. Park,” commented RPO President and CEO Curt Long.  “Community response to that performance challenged us to think about how we could do more to support those in our community who are fighting for justice and against structural racism.”


Truth is of No Color: Concerts for Social Justice takes its name from the motto of The North Star, Frederick Douglass’ newspaper, which was published right here in Rochester from 1847 to 1859. “We were particularly struck by the motto of Frederick Douglass’ The North Star, which began “Right is of no Sex — Truth is of no Color,” in that composers use music to reveal and share universal truths,” said Long.  “These concerts will be an opportunity for us to share the musical truths of composers of color who may not be familiar to Rochester audiences.”


Throughout history, music has been used as a way to promote awareness on social issues and encourage activism. Each event in the Truth is of No Color streaming series will feature music by composers of the past and present – many whose voices have been suppressed for hundreds of years, based on their sex, race, heritage, sexual orientation, and backgrounds. Each event will also highlight a local social justice organization whose vision aligns with the values of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

The first chamber music event will be available for streaming from March 15 to April 28 and will celebrate the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass.  The program will feature members of the RPO’s string section: Rob Simonds (violin), Willa Finck (violin), Melissa Matson (viola), and Lars Kirvan (cello) performing works by Jessie Montgomery and Carlos Simon.  The RPO will partner with the Rochester-based Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, who will punctuate the program with insight into their work in the Rochester community and beyond. “Douglass shared more with the world than just his wisdom and activism,” commented Hank Rubin, Founding Director for the Frederick Douglass Center for Collaborative Leadership – a backbone program of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. “He shared his love for music.”


This first streamed concert features works by Jessie Montgomery and Carlos Simon.


Jessie Montgomery (born 1981) is an American composer, chamber musician, and music educator. Her compositions focus on the vernacular, improvisation, language, and social justice. She was raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side by parents working in music and theater and involved in neighborhood arts. She began her violin studies at the Third Street Music School Settlement and holds a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Julliard and completed a master’s degree in Composition for Film and Multimedia from New York University.  She is the recipient of the Leonard Bernstein Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and her works are performed frequently around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience. Her profoundly felt works have been described as “turbulent, wildly colorful and exploding with life” (The Washington Post). She is a founding member of the Catalyst String Quartet and since 1999, has been affiliated with The Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players and was the recipient of the 2020 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. She currently serves as composer in residence for the Sphinx Virtuosi, the Organization’s flagship professional touring ensemble. (


Carlos Simon’s latest album, My Ancestor’s Gift, was released on the Navona Records label in April 2018. Described as an “overall driving force” (Review Graveyard) and featured on Apple Music’s “Albums to Watch,” My Ancestor’s Gift incorporate spoken word and historic recordings to craft a multifaceted program of musical works that are inspired as much by the past as they are the present. As part of the Sundance Institute, Simon was named as a Sundance Composer Fellow in 2018, held at the historic Skywalker Ranch. Acting as music director and keyboardist for Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Holliday, he has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony. He has toured internationally with soul Grammy-nominated artist, Angie Stone, and performed throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia.   His string quartet, Elegy, honoring the lives of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner was performed at the Kennedy Center and will be included on the RPO @ Home’s “St. George, Morricone, Simon + Schreker” concert (available from March 30). A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Simon earned his doctorate degree at the University of Michigan. He has also received degrees from Georgia State University and Morehouse College.   He is the 2021 recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence. (


RPO @ Home 2021 highlights Philharmonics, Pops, and Chamber music programs. The RPO @ Home Truth is of No Color series of chamber concerts are available for free, unlimited viewing up to 45 days following the first concert date.  To stream, visit or call the Patron Services Center at 585-454-2100.


The 2020-21 Season is presented by M&T Bank and Rochester Regional Health, with additional streaming support made possible by Pace Family Fund, Eggers Family Charitable Foundation, and Christine M. Colucci. WDKX is the Media Sponsor for the Truth is of No Color series.


Programming of Truth is of No Color events for April and May will be announced at a later date.



STREAMING DATES:                        from Monday, March 15 to Wednesday, April 28


JESSIE MONTGOMERY               Voodoo Dolls
JESSIE MONTGOMERY                Break Away
CARLOS SIMON                             Warmth from other Sun
JESSIE MONTGOMERY                 Source Code
JESSIE MONTGOMERY                Strum

TICKET PRICES:                                  FREE


RESERVATIONS:                       or call the Patron Services Center at 585-454-2100.




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 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.


About RPO @ Home

The RPO @ Home Streaming series offers its patrons, along with viewers from all over the world, the opportunity to connect with one of the country’s most storied orchestras. Since the series began in autumn of 2020, viewers from all fifty states and three countries have enjoyed music from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. This series offers a blend of Philharmonics, Pops and Chamber programming.