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For Immediate Release: October 23, 2017

Media Contact: Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795, [email protected]




Week 1 features Olga Kern in “Emperor” Concerto

Week 2 features Beethoven’s Ninth with “Ode to Joy”


Rochester, NY – One of the highlights of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)’s 2017/18 Philharmonics Series is an upcoming Beethoven “mini-festival” coming up in November. Two weeks of back-to-back Beethoven begins with Olga Kern Plays Beethoven’s “Emperor” on Thursday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 11 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The following week features Beethoven’s Ninth on Thursday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 18 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall. Fun and informative pre-concert chats with Music Director Ward Stare begin one hour prior to each concert in Kodak Hall, and are free for ticket-holders.


“We did a three-weekend-long Festival of American Music last season, and it was nice because it allows you to focus in a more specific way on one area of music, so we wanted to do something along those lines,” says Stare, who will lead both Beethoven programs.


The first begins with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor,” performed by the extraordinary Olga Kern, an RPO audience favorite and the first woman in 30 years to win the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.


“This was his last concerto and probably his most grandiose – with great sweeping wonderful flourishes to open – but then you contrast that with the most delicate, lyrical, intimate playing in the second movement,” explains Stare. “It touches me and I think most people when they hear it because it’s so personal. It’s like you’re hearing Beethoven’s voice all this time later.” 


The second half of that concert will feature Mussorgsky’s beloved sonic showpiece, Pictures at an Exhibition, with nine orchestrations of the work by notable arrangers, including Ravel, Stokowski, and Ashkenazy.


The second week of Beethoven will feature his monumental final Symphony No. 9, “Choral” – a masterpiece for the ages that culminates in the exhilarating and transcendent “Ode to Joy.”


“The Ninth symphony is one of those pieces that really changed the musical landscape forever – it was Beethoven’s last grand statement to the world,” adds Stare. “And now more than ever, having a work that focuses on unity, bringing people together, overcoming adversity, and joy is quite timely.”


The Eastman-Rochester Chorus, directed by William Weinert, will join the RPO, as will vocal soloists Cassandra Velasco (mezzo-soprano), Paul Groves (tenor) and Michael Chioldi (bass), with a soprano soloist to be announced.


That concert will begin with the romantic “Prelude and Liebestod” from Wagner’s great opera, Tristan and Isolde, which includes the famous “Tristan chord” that rocked the musical world.

Tickets for both concerts start at $24 and are available online at, by phone at (585) 454-2100, or in person at the RPO’s Patron Services Center (108 East Ave., Rochester) and at all Wegmans That’s T.H.E. Ticket! locations.


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.