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RPO Celebrates Final Year of Director Seaman’s Musical Director Tenure

Rochester, NY – With Christopher Seaman’s announcement last Fall that 2011-2012 would be his last year as RPO Music Director, the Orchestra is toasting him with a season highlighted by some of his personal favorite repertoire and guest artists—including Van Cliburn winners Jon Nakamatsu and Olga Kern—and concluding with “A Bow Tie Affair,” a special Christopher celebratory event.

“Since his first concert in October, 1998, as Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director, Christopher Seaman has led us through an era of remarkable artistic growth,” said Charles H. Owens, RPO President & CEO.  “The 2010-11 season will be one to remember—truly commemorating Christopher’s tenure and his impact here.  In addition, the creativity and innovation of both Jeff Tyzik’s Pops programs and Michael Butterman’s family concerts all will emphasize the world-class talents of our orchestra and our guest artists.  The season will culminate, fittingly, in a Grand Finale and a tribute event to Christopher—‘A Bow Tie Affair.’”

The RPO’s upcoming season has numerous high points throughout its four major series, as well as special events including a concert starring the renowned violinist Joshua Bell performing with the Orchestra.  And despite the economic climate, the RPO is not only holding its current ticket prices for the upcoming season, it also is introducing a small section of seats at a special $15 price (single tickets only).  In addition, it will make its $10 Philharmonics student tickets available in advance for the first time, with the exception of the final pair of Philharmonics concerts.

A dozen guest artists will make their RPO debuts throughout the season, with Music Director Christopher Seaman, Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, and Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair).  Continuing its Rising Star Initiative—through which the RPO identifies outstanding artists early in their careers, introduces them to Rochester audiences, and builds a relationship with them for the long term—the Orchestra will be showcasing seven rising stars, including conductors, violinists, and vocalists.

On Sunday afternoon, March 20, the RPO will feature violinist Joshua Bell in a special performance with the orchestra.  For more than two decades, Joshua Bell has enchanted audiences worldwide with his breathtaking virtuosity and tone of rare beauty. He came to national attention at the age of 14 in a highly acclaimed orchestral debut with Ricardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A Carnegie Hall debut, the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and a recording contract further confirmed his presence in the music world. He is equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader. His curiosity and multifaceted musical interests have taken him in exciting new directions that have earned him the rare title of “classical music superstar.”

The RPO will present 14 concert pairs—eight conducted by Seaman and six by visiting guest conductors—in its flagship Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb Philharmonics Series.  A Red Carpet Spectacular launches the Wegmans Pops programs (eight pairs, plus four concerts of Gala Holiday Pops) will bring back the popular Bugs Bunny at the Symphony with live accompaniment to the classic Looney Tunes animated features.  The diversity of Pops programming will take audiences from the music of Ray Charles to the music of Elton John, with a Nat King Cole tribute, Broadway, jazz, and St. Patrick’s Day sprinkled in.  Four pairs of Symphony 101 concerts run the gamut of musical milestones, including those particularly meaningful in Christopher Seaman’s life, plus a Symphony 201 (for those ready to “graduate” to the next level).  Four narrated orKIDStra series concerts range from Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to the legal “trial” of the wolf in Peter vs. the Wolf; and two specials: The Nutcracker returning with the Rochester City Ballet, and a special family matinee special of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.

Subscribers receive extra rewards of guaranteed seats and savings.  RPO subscribers will save up to 20% off single ticket prices—which will not be raised in the upcoming season.  Those who renew by March 12 also will receive a pair of tickets to a select upcoming summer concert—as well as the first opportunity to purchase tickets to An Afternoon with Joshua Bell—and immediate access to the best seats in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre for the Red Carpet Spectacular and holiday events.  Those who subscribe to the orKIDStra family series will be able to purchase tickets—with drastically discounted prices—to a special Bugs Bunny at the Symphony family matinee concert.  Also, those who subscribe to Philharmonics concerts now will be able to purchase additional $10 student price tickets for any concerts they may attend with children or grandchildren (excluding the final Philharmonics concerts).

Until April 16, new and renewing subscribers also will be able to pre-order the elegant new 200-page coffee table book, The Eastman Theatre: Fulfilling George Eastman’s Dream, for $60, which reflects a $25 discount off the retail price.  Written by George Eastman biographer, author Betsy Brayer, the book is filled with historical photos as well as gorgeous new architectural and live concert images in the renovated theatre by award-winning photographer Andy Olenick.  After April 16, the general public will be able to pre-order this spectacular book, which will be available by December 2010, for $70.

Brochures detailing the 2010-11 Season will be available within the month.  Patrons can call the RPO Box Office at (585) 454-2100.  A season listing also will be available online at by February 12.  Single tickets for concerts in the 2010-11 season go on sale to the general public in late summer.

The Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb Philharmonics Series

Guest Artists:
• Next season brings five pianists to the RPO: the Rochester debut of the multi-prize winning Russian-born Ilya Itin, who performs Liszt’s fiery First Piano Concerto on Opening Weekend; a welcome return of two Van Cliburn winning, RPO-recording artists, Olga Kern (Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2) and Jon Nakamatsu (Schumann’s Piano Concerto); Markus Groh, First Prize-winner at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto; and Michael Cavanaugh—last season’s “Piano Man”—bringing the music of Elton John.
• String players include the return of German violinist Augustin Hadelich bringing his dazzling technique to Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto; RPO debuts of violinist Karen Gomyo performing Bruch’s First Violin Concerto, and Canadian-born “phenomenon” Lara St. John in the American premiere of Australian composer Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto; plus the annual performance of the RPO’s own Concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair) in Glazunov’s romantic Violin Concerto, and RPO Principal Cello Stefan Reuss (the Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Chair) as the featured soloist in Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1.
• Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto will get a virtuosic reading by Kenneth Grant, RPO Principal Clarinetist (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair).
• French soprano Anaïk Morel debuts with the orchestra in the rarely-heard version of Shéhérazade by Maurice Ravel.

Guest Conductors:
A half-dozen guest conductors will bring their talents to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in this season’s Philharmonics Series, four making their RPO debuts.  Distinguished American conductor John Nelson conducts works by Liszt, Saint-Saëns, and Dvořák; in her RPO debut, Sarah Ioannides brings the American premiere of the violin concerto by Australian composer Matthew Hindson; Larry Rachleff, Music Director of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, conducts Berlioz, Mendelssohn, and Brahms in his first appearance with the RPO; Canadian Julian Kuerti, Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony, makes his RPO debut with Messiaen, Bruch, and Beethoven; the dynamic Israeli conductor Yoav Talmi leads the RPO in Sibelius, Beethoven, and Shostakovich; and London-born David Robert Coleman, winner of multiple conducting prizes, takes on Rimsky-Korsakov and Ravel.

Significant Repertoire:

• The American premiere of Australian composer Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto performed by violinist Lara St. John with conductor Sarah Ioannides, who recorded the piece together with the Royal Philharmonic shares the program with  Debussy’s La Mer and Stravinsky’s Firebird
• Messiaen’s beautiful and contemplative Les Offrandes Oubliées (The Forgotten Offerings)
• A German Requiem by Brahms brings together the forces of the RPO and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus
• Particularly noteworthy is the season closer, a “quintessentially Christopher” program including Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with vocalists from the Eastman Opera Theatre, and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2.

Except for the final Philharmonics concert on Saturday, June 4, which begins at 5:30 to allow for a post-concert “Bow Tie Affair” for Christopher Seaman, all Philharmonics concerts take place Thursdays at 7:30 pm, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The First Niagara Pre-Concert Chat for all ticket-holders takes place one hour prior to each Philharmonics concert.  Christopher Seaman usually hosts these popular programs, which give musical and historical background into the music for that evening.  Subscription packages for five, seven and 14 concerts are available.  Subscription prices range from $100 to $698 depending on package and seating locations.  Box seat subscriptions range from $305 to $845. 

Wegmans Pops

• The Pops Season opens with the RPO’s annual Red Carpet Spectacular featuring the astounding five-octave range of tenor Ellis Hall, who makes his RPO debut in the Music of Ray Charles (Hall’s own musical mentor) with Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik bringing Charles’ iconic style.
• The RPO goes Broadway with a return of Debbie Gravitte, one of the Three Broadway Divas, and a veterans of numerous Broadway roles.
• The talented voices of the Festival High School Chorale with Rochester native, vocalist, and actress Donna Lynne Champlin debuting with the RPO under Tyzik for four Gala Holiday Pops performances.
• A return of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony with the inimitable Looney Tunes “take” on classical music
• The RPO collaborates with the Rochester City Ballet for Dance Mix including music by Tyzik, Gershwin, and Ellington.
• Hollywood and television Emmy Award-winning actor Keith David, most recently of The Princess and the Frog fame, gives an “Unforgettable” vocal performance recalling Nat King Cole’s legacy of love. 
• The great Irish melodies for St. Patrick’s Day will be brought to life by tenor Benjamin Brecker debuting with the RPO.
• Popular RPO guest trombonist Wycliffe Gordon joins Jeff Tyzik for The Gospel According to Jazz.
• The Pops series closes with a return of Michael Cavanaugh and the incomparable Music of Elton John.

Pops concerts take place Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  Subscription packages for five or nine concerts are available.  Subscription prices range from $110 to $455, depending on the package and seating location.  Box seat subscriptions range from $305 to $545.


Christopher Seaman once again plays host, educator, and conductor in this series of four informal concerts using musical illustrations played by the Orchestra, anecdotes, and pertinent background information to provide an informative look at different types of orchestral music.  Next season, the series focuses on musical milestones of various eras, including personal musical milestones in Christopher Seaman’s life.  Following each concert, Mr. Seaman takes questions from the audience.  Following the final Symphony 101 is Symphony 201 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Sunday, May 8, for those “graduating” to the next level. This concert will expand on the repertoire performed at that same weekend’s Philharmonics concerts.  The Symphony 101 concerts take place on Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. in the Performance Hall at Hochstein. The subscription price for the five-concert series (four Symphony 101 plus one Symphony 201) is $110, held steady from the current season.


The popular five-concert orKIDStra Series returns under the skilled direction of Michael Butterman, The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair.  The centerpiece of each concert is a complete and compelling musical story. Next season’s series is a narration-rich one, including Green Eggs and Ham, A Family for Baby Grand, Fairy Tales, and the humorous Peter vs. the Wolf.  Although ideal for children of all ages, the series is designed especially for families with children ages 3 and up. 

An added matinee version of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony—geared specifically for families—will be available at drastically discounted rates for orKIDStra subscribers.  Except for Bugs Bunny at the Symphony held in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, all orKIDStra series concerts take place on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm in the Performance Hall at Hochstein.  Pre-concert activities begin at 1:00 pm. The four-concert series subscription is $41.

• In November, the RPO offers its annual opportunity to experience the magical world of The Nutcracker featuring the collaboration with the Rochester City Ballet and the Bach Children’s Chorus for six performances over Thanksgiving weekend in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Performances are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, November 26, 27, and 28 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm daily.  Add-on subscriber tickets are $15-$62 with $75 box seats.
• Tickets for An Afternoon with Joshua Bell on Saturday, March 20 at 2:00 in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre range from $15-$72, with $85 box seats.