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For Immediate Release: February 14, 2018

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




Balanced budget for first time in six years, ticket sales up 20%

“Our musicians really…knocked it out of the park.” –Ward Stare


Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) released its 2016-17 Annual Report at its Annual Meeting for membership yesterday evening. Among the highlights was the news – previously released in October of 2017 – that the Orchestra had achieved a balanced budget for the first time in six years.


“We must first express our thanks to the two years of great work by the RPO Board of Directors and Chairperson Jules L. Smith, and Interim President & CEO Ralph Craviso,” said RPO President & CEO Curt Long. “The 2016-17 season also saw a 20% increase in ticket sales reflecting 10% more subscription revenue and 30% more single ticket sales. And, thanks to the community, we saw a 25% increase in contributions (year-over-year) as well, including a summer matching challenge campaign that exceeded its $200,000 goal.”


Those results reflect the implementation of RPO’s five-year financial plan – the first year of which was 2016-17. The foundation of that plan included improvements in fundraising as well as in expanded programming – including concerts involving films, video games, etc. – to bring in new audiences.


RPO musicians also contributed to the success of 2016-17 by continuing to demonstrate their understanding of the business of the RPO and their willingness to invest in the Orchestra’s future. They agreed to concessions during contractual re-negotiations in the fall of 2016 that provided relief for the RPO in 2016-17, which continue into and through the current season.


Long also lauded Music Director Ward Stare, along with Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik and Principal Conductor for Education & Community Engagement Michael Butterman, for building an appealing and eclectic season that attracted audiences across a wide spectrum.


“There have been numerous highlights, but the American Music Festival represented the pinnacle of the season for me,” added Stare. “The result was beyond what I could have imagined, and I am exceedingly proud. Our musicians really stepped up and knocked it out of the park. Once again, I was reminded of the orchestra’s flexibility, virtuosity and great sense of style in works by Diamond, Gershwin, Copland, Adams, Ives, Higdon and Barber.”


Programs that included the sold-out Raiders of the Lost Ark – Film with Orchestra, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, Amy Grant, The Legend of Zelda, Jon Nakamatsu on both the Philharmonics and Pops season openers, Women Rock, La Boheme in concert, and – of course – Yo-Yo Ma (which sold out to subscribers eight months prior to the concert) attracted approximately 170,300 audience members to 150 performances (including concerts and broadcasts).


Equally successful were the continued implementation of the RPO’s education and engagement goals. For example, Yo-Yo Ma’s appearance held very special meaning for a group of young string players from the ROCmusic Collaborative, an urban education program with which the RPO partners, who were invited to attend the Special Concert’s rehearsal. Then, Mr. Ma himself joined the group and their founder Alexander Peña in playing at a post-concert reception.


The RPO was one of the first orchestras in the country to create a music education program for children, and it continues to lead in creating age-appropriate, sequential learning programs fully integrated into school curricula. It partners with regional school districts so that each child can be exposed to and enriched by music, and there is scarcely a household in Rochester’s nine-county region of that has not been touched by the orchestra’s educational programming. In 2016-17, more than 15,000children heard the RPO live in concert through Tiny Tots, Primary, and Intermediate Concert series, including 7,800 Rochester City School District students who attended concerts in Kodak Hall at no charge. In all, the RPO performed for 34,800 youth audience members.


Since its founding by George Eastman in 1922, the RPO has been committed to providing an enriching experience to the community with live music of the highest artistic quality. In 2016-17, the RPO performed in 37 different locations across the state, and more than 25,000 people experienced the Orchestra at no charge through its 10 free public concerts. RPO ensembles also engaged 2,200+ attendees at free concerts including the City-sponsored, summertime Around the Town Neighborhood Ensemble Concerts at Susan B. Anthony Square, the corner of Joseph and Clifford Avenues, and more.  


Board of Director news during 2016-17 included a smooth transition of leadership when Jules L. Smith stepped down as Chairperson and was succeeded by Ingrid A. Stanlis. During the Annual Meeting, the RPO announced the election by the RPO membership of six members of the Board of Directors:  James Englert, David Lane, Dr. Stephen Rosenfeld, Katherine Schumacher, Sid Sobel, and Alex Yudelson.


“We are at a crucial and exciting point as we head towards our centennial,” added Stanlis. “As members and good citizens of the Rochester community, we are committed to serving the entire region through music and engagement, and are serious about earning the community’s support. We have a robust and carefully thought-out plan for a path going forward, and we count on the continuation and growth of our supporters, members, and subscribers – all of whom have experienced the transformative impact of the RPO – to join us on this path. Together, we will mold a dynamic and energetic future.”


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 – more than 34,000 of them youngsters – through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. 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 24-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first endowed position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 15,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.


Media please note: The RPO’s 2016-17 annual report is available at Photos from the 2016/17 season can be found at, and for the current season here. Interviews, as well as photo and footage opportunities, can also be arranged.