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RPO 95th Season opens with Itzhak Perlman

For Immediate Release:  February 7, 2017
Media Contacts:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, [email protected]


Audra McDonald, Beethoven Mini-Fest with Ninth Symphony

Harry Potter, E.T., Misha Dichter, PUSH Physical Theatre & Carmen
Ella Fitzgerald & Bernstein Centennial Celebrations, White Album’s 50th



“There truly is something for everyone in our dynamic season ahead.”

–Ward Stare, RPO Music Director

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announced its 2017/18 season to a packed house in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre earlier this evening. The Orchestra’s third annual, free Season Preview Concert once again featured the entire orchestra onstage performing selected excerpts, with emcee Music Director Ward Stare joined for the first time by Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik. The two co-hosted the informal and lively evening from a living room-type setting on stage, and took turns conducting highlights from the upcoming Philharmonics and Pops Series.

“I’m excited to embark on my third full season with the RPO. Each year, the amazing bond we all share – conductors, musicians, audience, and community – grows stronger,” says Stare, a Rochester native who inaugurated the Season Preview Concert when he became the orchestra’s 12th music director in 2014. “We have an incredible season planned, with drama, romance, passion, and power as central themes, presented in many different forms throughout the year. As always, audiences will experience music they know and love while hearing many new sounds along the way. There truly is something for everyone in our dynamic season ahead.”

“We’re very proud of the almost 70 exciting ticketed performances that we announced tonight – they reflect the RPO’s strong commitment to artistic excellence as well as appealing to a diverse audience,” adds Tyzik, who celebrates his 24th anniversary with the Orchestra next season. “Keep in mind that we also offer dozens of free educational and community engagement concerts each year, and that bringing value to the quality of people’s lives in the Greater Rochester area is our greatest mission.”

A Special Concert with world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman will open the season on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, with Maestro Stare conducting. Beloved the world over for his charm, humanity, and irrepressible joy of music-making, Perlman is undeniably the reigning virtuoso of violin. The program will feature famous cinematic music arranged by John Williams, including the poignant Theme from Schindler’s List, which Perlman performed for the film itself. New and renewing subscribers to a 2017/18 Philharmonics, Pops, Compose-Your-Own or Sunday Matinee Series package will enjoy priority access to tickets in advance of the general public. (Reminder: last season’s Yo-Yo Ma concert sold out in pre-sale.) The concert is sponsored by Dr. Eva Pressman and Dr. Seth Zeidman.

Another exciting Special Concert with exclusive access for subscribers: Broadway superstar Audra McDonald returns with a new show after her sold-out 2015 RPO performance to perform on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 8 p.m. at Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre. With a record-breaking six Tony® Awards, two Grammy® Awards, and an Emmy®, McDonald is one of today’s most highly regarded performers.

There are three more Special Concerts in 2017/18 (also with subscriber priority access):

  • rePlay: Symphony of Heroes (Thursday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m.): the most popular and beloved video games of all time, including Halo, Final Fantasy, Castelvania, Kingdom Hearts, BioShock, Portal, and more come to life with guest conductor Amy Andersson and stunning visual projections. (Sponsored in part by RIT’s Magic Spell Studios, its Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement, and the Upstate Region Interactive Technologies Hub.)
  • A Night of Symphonic Rock (Saturday, April 28 at 8 p.m. at the Kodak Center for Performing Arts): the RPO and a six-piece, all-star band perform the greatest hits of classic rock.
  • Michael Grandinetti – Illusionist (Friday, May 11 at 8 p.m.): the star of the hit CW series, Masters of Illusion, combines his astonishing magic with the wonderful sounds of the RPO.

The RPO’s 95th Philharmonics Series opens on Thursday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, September 23 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre with Ward Stare conducting Grieg’s Piano Concerto & Cinderella. Guest artist, Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan is the first-ever Artist-in-Association with the New York Philharmonic. Prokofiev’s Excerpts from Cinderella and Strauss’ famous tone poem, Don Juan, round out the program.

The remainder of the 14-concert Philharmonics Series, which includes two world premieres, features:

  • Ravel’s Bolero (October 5 & 7):features Met opera star and Grammy-winner Isabel Leonard in her RPO debut led by Ward Stare.
  • Seaman Conducts Mozart & Sibelius (October 19 & 21): the annual return of RPO’s beloved Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman (The Christopher Seaman Chair, Supported by Barbara and Patrick Fulford and The Conductor Laureate Society) with pianist Joyce Yang.
  • Beethoven Mini-Fest: Ward Stare conducts two weekends of Beethoven in November
    • Olga Kern Plays Beethoven’s “Emperor” (November 9 & 11):Beethoven’s final piano concerto performed by one of Rochester’s favorite piano superstars, Olga Kern, plus a multi-composer version of Mussorgky’s Pictures at an Exhibition
    • Beethoven’s Ninth (November 16 & 18): his monumental final symphony culminates in the exhilarating “Ode to Joy,” with the Eastman-Rochester Chorus (William Weinert, director)
  • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons* (December 14 & 16): guest conductor Michael Christie returns to feature RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair)
  • Night on Bald Mountain (January 18 & 20): Marcelo Lehninger guest conducts the North American concert debut of 23-year-old International Tchaikovsky Competition winner, cellist Andrei Ionita, performing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, bookended by Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and Debussy’s Nocturnes.
  • Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake (February 8 & 10): Ward Stare conducts his new arrangement of music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty featuring St. Louis Symphony Concertmaster David Halen and Rochester City Ballet (David Palmer, artistic director), plus Bartok’s stunning The Miraculous Mandarin.
  • Bernstein Centennial Celebration (March 1 & 3):Ward Stare leads this “salute to Lenny” that includes Bernstein’s brilliant “Age of Anxiety,” featuring the legendary Misha Dichter on piano
  • Mahler 4 (March 8 & 10): Ward Stare conducts the Mahler’s spellbinding Symphony No. 4.
  • Tchaikovsky 5 + World Premiere (March 22 & 24): Ward Stare conducts the world premiere of Allen Shawn’s Oboe Concerto, written expressly for RPO Principal Oboe Erik Behr (The Dr. Jacques M. Lipson Chair). Concert and commission made possible by support from Ron and Susan Fielding.
  • The Planets: An HD Odyssey (April 19 & 21): Holst’s beloved sonic odyssey is paired with high-definition footage from recent NASA explorations, led by renowned Houston Symphony Conductor Emeritus Hans Graf
  • Brahms 2 + World Premiere (May 10 & 12): Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto gets its world premiere from harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, led by Ward Stare.
  • Philharmonics Season Finale: Carmen in Concert (May 24 & 26): Special concert production of Bizet’s opera conducted by Ward Stare and made possible by the Gouvernet Arts Fund of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Haskell Rosenberg Memorial Fund for Opera.

The 2017/18 Pops Series opens with A cELLAbration: The music of Ella and more, on Friday and Saturday, September 15 & 16. Led by Jeff Tyzik, this concert not only pays tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s most beloved jazz singers – with vocalist Carmen Bradford – but is also an Eastman School of Music reunion of sorts. Tyzik, RPO Trumpet Herb Smith, renowned saxophonist Brian Scanlon, and Rochester’s internationally known jazz vibist, Joe Locke, all attended Eastman.  Locke, who headlined in Kilbourn Hall at last year’s Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, will make his RPO debut. Concert sponsored by St. John’s.

The Pops Series continues on Friday and Saturday, November 3 & 4 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneTM in Concert. The Harry Potter Film Concert Series, which is another magical experience from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, kicked off in June 2016 and is scheduled to include hundreds of performances across more than 35 countries around the world thru 2018. Audiences will relive the magic of the film in high-definition on a 40-foot screen while hearing the Orchestra – led by Harry Potter Film Concert Series Producer/Conductor Justin Freer – perform every note from John Williams’ unforgettable score. (HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. J.K. ROWLING`S WIZARDING WORLD™ J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s17).

The rest of the 2017/18 Pops Series follows:

  • Gala Holiday Pops (December 21 – 23): Jeff Tyzik is joined by the Festival High School Chorale (Amy Story and Harold McAuliffe, co-directors) along with singer Denzel Sinclaire. Sponsored in part by High Falls Advisors.
  • E.T. The Extra-Terrestrialin Concert(January 12 & 13): Film on the big screen with John Williams’ Academy Award®-winning score performed live. (E.T. The Extra-TerrestrialTM is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All Rights Reserved.)
  • Broadway’s Ashley Brown (February 2 & 3): Jeff Tyzik conducts Broadway’s original Mary Poppins, Ashley Brown, in her RPO debut.
  • Latin Heat with the Mambo Kings (February 23 & 24): Rochester’s Mambo Kings have earned a national reputation since their RPO debut with Jeff Tyzik 20 years ago, with vocalist Camille Zamora.
  • Celtic Celebration with Cathie Ryan (March 16 & 17): the original lead singer with Cherish the Ladies joins RPO Music Director Ward Stare for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
  • Breaking Boundaries with PUSH Physical Theatre (April 13 & 1): Rochester’s internationally-known PUSH Physical Theatre collaborates with Jeff Tyzik and local photography and music.
  • Classical Mystery Tour: 50th Anniversary of the White Album (June 1 & 2): Celebrate the 50th of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as well, with Jeff Tyzik.

Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) announced the 2017/18 Sunday Matinee and OrKIDStra Series via video at the concert. The upcoming season’s 2 p.m. Sunday Matinee Series at Hochstein Performance Hall opens with RPO Section Spotlight: DvoÅ™ák and More on October 29 with Ward Stare. The Series also includes:

  • Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” (November 19): Michael Butterman conducts, with special guests Nazareth College Chamber Singers and Concert Choir (Mark Zeigler, Yunn-Shan Ma, dir).
  • Bach & Brahms (January 14): guest conductor Matthew Kraemer
  • Mozart & Haydn(February 25): Ward Stare conducts; Yevgeny Kutik guests on Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3. Kutik’s performance made possible by Dr. Sidney Sobel and Mrs. Barbara Sobel.
  • Anderson & Roe Play Mozart (April 15): renowned duo-piano artists join conductor – and pianist – Michael Butterman.
  • Schumann’s Fourth(June 3): Concertmaster Juliana Athayde and Principal Horn W. Peter Kurau (The Cricket and Frank Luellen Chair) join Michael Butterman.

Also at 2 p.m. at Hochstein Performance Hall, the four-concert, 2017/18 OrKIDStra Series features free kids’ activities starting one hour prior to concerts:

  • Opera for Kids 2 (October 8): the RPO once again teams up with the Eastman School of Music opera and music students (Steven Daigle, director) to present a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Michael Butterman conducts.
  • A Tour of World Flutes with Orchestra (November 5): world flutist Tereasa Payne and the RPO take kids on a musical journey of past and present flute-like instruments around the world. Matthew Kraemer guest conducts.
  • Peter and the Wolf (January 28): Prokofiev’s classic musical tale features new choreography from the Nazareth College Dance Ensemble (Heather Roffe, director).
  • Classical Kids: Beethoven Lives Upstairs (May 20): Led by Michael Butterman, this musical story follows a young boy’s letters to his uncle about the new tenant in the upstairs room, with more than 25 Beethoven excerpts.

Holiday offerings (in addition to the already-mentioned Gala Holiday Pops and Vivaldi Four Seasons*) include an OrKIDStra Holiday Special on Sunday, December 10 at 2 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The Snowman and the Bear features two animated winter classics (The Snowman and The Bear) on the big screen with a live soundtrack by the RPO, plus other holiday favorites. And, the Rochester holiday season wouldn’t be complete without The Nutcracker, led by Michael Butterman and featuring the Rochester City Ballet and the Bach Children’s Chorus (Karla Krogstad, director). Opening Wednesday, November 22 and continuing Friday, November 24 through Sunday the 26th, the production is sponsored in part by Caldwell.

Subscription packages go on sale tomorrow morning, Wednesday, February 8 at 10 a.m. Subscribers have access to a wide range of subscription options and price points, and are guaranteed consistently lowest ticket prices, free ticket-exchange privileges, priority access to RPO Special Concerts like this season’s sold-out Yo-Yo Ma concert, and other valuable benefits including parking passes and dining discounts. Subscriptions will be available online at, by phone at (585) 454-2100, or in person at the RPO’s Patron Services Center (108 East Avenue). Single tickets will go on sale in July.

The 2017/18 Season is presented by Rochester Regional Health and the Dawn and Jacques Lipson Cancer Institute. The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by M&T Bank; the RPO Pops Series is sponsored by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust and Wegmans. RPO performances are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by Monroe County; the City of Rochester; the Alfred Davis and Brunhilde Knapp Artists Performance Fund; the Mozart Performance Fund: Sarah D. Atkinson, M.D. and Steven Hess; and the Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund.

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. 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 first endowed position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 16,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note: High-resolution images of 2017/18 concerts are available at and upon request, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.