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For Immediate Release:  January 30, 2018

Media Contacts:   Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795,; Olivia Bauso, 315-283-7763,

RPO,,,,, #rpo1819



Carmina Burana, Rite of Spring, Mahler 7, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Cosi fan tutti

Piano virtuoso Jean-Yves Thibaudet + three Van Cliburn gold medalists

Films in concert include Harry Potter 2 + Nightmare Before Christmas



Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announced its 2018/19 season to a packed house in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre earlier this evening. The Orchestra’s fourth-annual, free Season Preview Concert once again featured the entire orchestra onstage performing selected excerpts, with emcees Music Director Ward Stare and Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik.


“We have an incredible season planned – almost 70 performances in Kodak Hall that range from familiar masterpieces to world premieres. We’re hosting superstar guest artists, showing off our own amazing musicians, and adding even more accessible programming for the whole family,” says Stare, a Rochester native who began the Season Preview Concerts when he became the orchestra’s 12th and youngest music director in 2014. “I’m particularly looking forward to the live recording of Jennifer Higdon’s new Harp Concerto in the fall. It’s a great honor to be the first orchestra to record a new piece by a great composer, and audiences will be part of something really special too.”


“I’m thrilled to be celebrating my 25th anniversary with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra next season. This milestone creates an extra level of excitement for me and I’m looking forward to sharing great musical moments with our audiences,” adds Tyzik. “We’ll be premiering a new Tango concert and a special program about the musical relationship between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Plus, my friend and Rochester music legend Don Potter will join us for our Gala Holiday Pops!”


As always, the Special Concert titles drew some of the most enthusiastic crowd reactions, especially when Jeff Tyzik announced that Broadway’s Hamilton star Leslie Odom, Jr. would join him and the Orchestra on Friday, January 18, 2019 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Other Specials include Distant Worlds: Music from Final FantasyTM (video game concert) on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 8 p.m.; Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas – in Concert (film with concert) on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 7:30 p.m.; The Nutcracker with Rochester City Ballet on November 21-25; Ghostbusters – in Concert (film with concert) on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 7 p.m.; and a Michael Butterman Gala Celebration –celebrating his 18 seasons as an RPO staff conductor – on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 8 p.m., featuring the Frequent Flyer Cirque Troupe and much more.


Next season’s classical Special Concert will feature “one of the best pianists in the world” (Cincinnati Enquirer), France’s Jean-Yves Thibaudet, in an all-Gershwin concert conducted by Ward Stare. For more than three decades, Thibaudet has been performing at the highest level around the world with “dazzling technique and passion” (The Straits Times) as well as on award-winning film scores and jazz albums. He has recorded more than 50 albums, and is sought after by today’s foremost orchestras, festivals, conductors, and collaborative musicians. Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Wednesday, October 3 at 8 p.m. concert in Kodak Hall will feature Thibaudet playing Gershwin’s Concerto in F, as well as the orchestra performing the Overture to Girl Crazy, Suite from Porgy and Bess, and An American in Paris.


New and renewing subscribers to a 2017/18 Philharmonics, Pops, Compose-Your-Own or Sunday Matinee Series package will enjoy priority access to all Special Concert tickets in advance of the public.*


The RPO’s 96th Philharmonics Series opens with Dvořák’s New World on Thursday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, September 15 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, with Ward Stare conducting. Following Berlioz’s dashing Roman Carnival Overture, Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman returns toperform Prokofiev’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2. The program closes with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “New World Symphony,” inspired by the composer’s exposure to Native-American and African-American music.


Next up on September 20 and 22 is the RPO’s first live recording for commercial release since 2011’s recording of Vaughn Williams’ A London Symphony (Harmonia Mundi, 2012) with Christopher Seaman. Ward Stare will lead the Orchestra in the world premiere recording of American composer Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto (a co-commission by the RPO) – which Rochester audiences will preview at this season’s world premiere performance on May 10 & 12 – with virtuoso harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. American Songbook/Bernstein Centennial will also feature works by other great American composers: Samuel Barber, Patrick Harlin, and Leonard Bernstein’s Divertimento, a piece that continues the celebration of Bernstein’s Centennial that begins this March 1 & 3.


The entire 14-concert Philharmonics Series features a mix of “blockbuster” favorites, world-renowned guest artists, and RPO first performances and debuts:

  • Beethoven’s Eroica (October 18 & 20): Guest conductor Andreas Delfs leads Beethoven’s powerful Symphony No. 3, “Eroica;” Strauss’s Duet-concertino for Clarinet and Bassoon will feature RPO Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant (The Robert J. Strasenburgh Chair) and Principal Bassoon Matthew McDonald (The Ron and Donna Fielding Chair); and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, named for his son, completes the program.
  • Tyzik Conducts Tyzik (November 1 & 3) celebrates the Maestro’s 25th season with the Orchestra. It features Tyzik’s 2016 Jazz Concerto for Violin and Orchestra featuring Concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair) for whom he wrote the piece, as well as his IMAGES: Musical Impressions of an Art Gallery from 2012. The concert also continues the Bernstein Centennial with the composer’s Onthe Town: Three Dance Episodes.
  • Rustic Hungarian Harmonies(November 8 & 10): Oregon Symphony Music Director Carlos Kalmar leads Haydn’s expressive Symphony No. 98 – the first he composed after learning of his friend Mozart’s death – as well as Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #1, and Kodaly’s Galanta Dances. Plus: Principal Cello Ahrim Kim (The Clara and Edwin Strasenburgh Chair) solos on Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor.
  • Carmina Burana (December 13 & 15): Ward Stare leads the Rochester Oratorio Society in Orff’s masterpiece, as well as the first performance by the RPO of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.
  • Kholodenko Returns/Scheherazade (January 17 & 19, 2019): Guest conductor and rising star Gemma New makes her RPO debut with Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Rimsky-Korsakov’s magical Scheherazade. Plus 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition gold medalist Vadym Kholodenko returns to play Ravel’s bright and breezy Piano Concerto in G Major.
  • Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (January 31 & February 2): Ward Stare conducts Stravinsky’s controversial masterpiece and Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead, and Van Cliburn gold medalist and Rochester favorite Jon Nakamatsu returns to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Nakamatsu is also a soloist on the 2018/19 Pops Series).
  • The Enigma Variations(February 7 & 9) RPO Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman (The Christopher Seaman Chair, Supported by Barbara and Patrick Fulford and The Conductor Laureate Society) makes his annual return with Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Delius’ The Walk to the Paradise Garden, and more. Angelo Xiang Zu, winner of the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, makes his RPO debut with Mozart‘s scintillating Violin Concerto No. 4
  • Mahler 7 (February 28 & March 2): Ward Stare conducts Mahler’s enigmatic Symphony No. 7.
  • Shostakovich 10 (March 7 & 9): Ward Stare leads a musical journey through Russia’s Stalin years with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, plus the return of Augustin Hadelich, 2017 Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year, playing Sibelius’ highly virtuosic (and only) Violin Concerto.
  • An Orchestral Odyssey(March 21 & 23): Ward Stare leads Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, famously featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and welcomes back world-renowned pianist (and writer) Stephen Hough, performing Dvorak’s Piano Concerto. Brahms’ Tragic Overture completes the program.
  • Michael Francis Conducts Rachmaninoff (April 11 & 13): British guest conductor Michael Francis gives William Walton’s Symphony No. 1 its first performance by the RPO, and 2017 Van Cliburn gold medal winner Yekwon Sunwoo makes his RPO debut with one of the most technically demanding works of the piano repertoire: Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
  • Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte (May 9 & 11): Fresh off his Metropolitan Opera debut, Ward Stare continues his RPO opera presentations and closes the 2018/19 season in grand style with the RPO’s first performance of Mozart’s famous opera in concert.


The 2017/19 Pops Series opens the first of its nine programs on September 28 & 29 with Jeff Tyzik and the return of the jaw-dropping Cirque de la Symphonie, and continues on October 26 & 27 with a brand new Tyzik program: Broadway Today. Giants of Music – 1900-1925 on November 16 & 17 will feature the music of Joplin, Berlin and Gershwin with Van Cliburn gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu on piano (also on the 2018/19 Philharmonics Series) and Broadway star Doug LaBrecque on vocals. Tyzik will then lead his 25th Gala Holiday Pops on December 19-23 with special guest, Rochester music legend Don Potter.


The RPO will continue its Harry Potter Film Concert series with the second film in the series: Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsTMFilm with Orchestra, on Friday and Saturday, January 11 & 12, 2019. As with this season’s packed performances of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone TM – Film with Orchestra, the RPO will again perform John Williams’ masterly score live while the film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen. 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)


Tyzik then returns to conduct three more new Pops programs for the 2018/19 season:

  • Queens of Soul (February 15 & 16) will feature hits made famous by reigning divas of Soul and R&B: Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, and Adele.
  • Eternal Tango (March 15 & 16): Tyzik showcases the passion, essence, and evolution of tango with dance and music, featuring the world-renowned Hector Del Curto Tango Quintet.
  • Lush Life (May 31 & June1): Tyzik and friends pay tribute to the great music of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.


The 2018/19 Sunday Matinee Series will take audiences on a world tour with RPO musicians as soloists, and all six concerts take place at 2 p.m. in Hochstein Performance Hall:

  • Zest of Czech (October 7): Ward Stare conducts a Czech-centric concert featuring composers Smetana, Janacek, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 as well as his Silent Woods with RPO cellist Lars Kirvan.
  • Sectional Highlights (November 18): Maestro Stare highlights the Orchestra’s sections: Brass/percussion (Susator’s Danserye), Woodwinds (Mozart’s Serenade No. 11), and Strings (Shostakovich/Barshai’s Chamber Symphony)
  • Baroque Touchstones (December 9): RPO flutes Rebecca Gilbert (Principal, The Charlotte Whitney Allen Chair) and Joanna Bassett join Concertmaster Juliana Athyade for an English-German, Baroque-themed concert featuring Handel, Mendelssohn, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto.
  • Butterman Celebrates Mozart’s Birthday (January 27, 2019): Guest conductor Michael Butterman leads a celebration of Mozart’s birthday, featuring the composer’s Sinfonie Concertante and his Symphony 25, with soloists Principal Oboe Erik Behr (The Dr. Jacques M. Lipson Chair), Principal Clarinet Kenneth Grant, Principal Bassoon Matthew McDonald, and Principal Horn W. Peter Kurau (The Cricket and Frank Luellen Chair).
  • Bravo Italiano (May 5): Ward Stare conducts this Italian-centric concert, featuring RPO piccolo Jessica Sindell on Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto. Also: Boccherini, Cherubini, and Rossini 
  • Christoph Denoth Plays Spanish Guitar(June 2): This Spanish-themed concert features the world premiere performance of contemporary Spanish composer Lorenzo Palomo’s Guitar Concerto, featuring Swiss guitarist Christoph Denoth. Also: Falla’s Three-cornered Hat Suite.


Also at 2 p.m. at Hochstein Performance Hall, the four-concert 2018/19 OrKIDStra Series features free kids’ activities starting one hour prior to concerts:

  • Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches (October 14): Theodor Geisel’s timeless children’s tale about the perils of bigotry comes to vivid life with Lorenzo Palomo’s original score and narrator.
  • Create a Symphony (January 13, 2019). The RPO’s own Herb Smith will conduct, play trumpet, and lead the audience in creating its own story symphony.
  • The Thrill of the Orchestra (April 28): Russell Peck’s playful piece for narrator and orchestra will also feature Hochstein Student Ensembles.
  • Platypus Theatre’s Presto, Mambo! (May 19): Michael Butterman conducts Platypus Theatre’s interactive family show that highlights the rhythms of Latin American music.


*Subscription packages are available online now at, and tomorrow (Wednesday, January 31 at 10 a.m.) by phone at (585) 454-2100, or in person at the RPO’s Patron Services Center (108 East Avenue). Subscribers have access to a wide range of subscription options and price points, and are guaranteed consistently lowest ticket prices, best seats, free ticket-exchange privileges, priority access to special one-night-only concerts, and other valuable benefits including dining discounts at local restaurants. Single tickets will go on sale at a later date to be announced.


The 2018/19 Season is presented by Rochester Regional HealthDawn and Jacques Lipson Cancer Institute. 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 and the City of Rochester.


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 – 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 almost 17,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.


Media please note: High-resolution images of 2018/19 concerts are available at here and upon request, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.