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RPO’s First-Ever American Music Festival

For Immediate Release:  Oct. 3, 2016
Media Contacts:  Sally Cohen, 585-749-1795,
RPO Info:,,,,

Three-weekend celebration runs October 23 – November 5
PLUS: Christopher Seaman returns October 13 & 15
Soul Unlimited with Ellis Hall on October 21 & 22

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) will present its first-ever American Music Festival over three weekends, beginning with Diamond, Gershwin & Copland on Sunday, October 23 at 2 p.m. at the Performance Hall at Hochstein.  The second concert, American Music: Stage & Screen, takes place Thursday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 29 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Closing the celebration will be Higdon, Copland & Barber on Thursday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 5 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. RPO Music Director Ward Stare created and conducts all three programs.

“In little more than 200 years, American composers have added a distinct and enduring note to the world of music. From Copland’s folk-inspired Americana to Bernstein’s jazzy swagger to John Adams’ minimalism, American music is as diverse and inventive as our nation itself,” explains Stare. “Throughout this season, and especially during this wonderful festival, we celebrate the visionary voices that define America’s ever-evolving sound, and show off our world-class orchestra along the way.”

Opening with a Sunday Matinee on October 23, Diamond, Gershwin & Copland features Rochester native and major American composer David Diamond’s most popular piece, Rounds, as well as Gershwin’s delicate Lullaby. Iscariot, by Pulitzer Prize/Grammy Award-winner Christopher Rouse – former Professor of Composition at Eastman School of Music – is on the program, as well as Aspen Music Festival and School President Alan Fletcher’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Aaron Copland’s Suite from his opera, The Tender Land, rounds out this more intimate program that’s perfect for the Performance Hall at Hochstein. Tickets are $27/students $10.

Back at Kodak Hall, American Music: Stage & Screen on October 27 and 29 opens with John Williams’ For New York (Variations on Themes of Leonard Bernstein), followed by Bernstein’s own Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront, and Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” Variations featuring pianist Andrew Russo. Highlights include Dr. Atomic Symphony from John Adams, arguably America’s greatest living composer, as well as The Unanswered Question, a cosmic soundscape from a true American maverick, Charles Ives.

Festival finale Higdon, Copland & Barber on November 3 & 5 in Kodak Hall will pull out all the stops with Grammy-winning guest artist Colin Currie (“the world’s finest percussionist” —The Spectator) bringing to life a piece that was written especially for him (Percussion Concerto) by Jennifer Higdon. Barber’s engaging Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance opens the program, and the concert fittingly concludes with what many have deemed the “Great American Symphony:” Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3, a masterwork in every sense of the word that includes the iconic Fanfare for the Common Man and culminates in a blaze of radiant glory.  

October also features the return of RPO’s beloved Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman (The Christopher Seaman Chair, Supported by Barbara and Patrick Fulford and The Conductor Laureate Society) in Seaman Conducts Elgar & Beethoven on Thursday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 15 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. No one does British music like Maestro Seaman, and his 2016 return features Elgar’s pilgrimage of spirit, his Symphony No. 2, filled with soaring themes that seem forever to reach for the highest summit. The program also includes American composer Tobias Picker’s tone poem, Old and Lost Rivers, as well as the “brilliant” (Chicago Tribune) pianist Andrew von Oeyen playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik conducts Soul Unlimited with Ellis Hall on Friday and Saturday, October 21 & 22 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Known for his passionate delivery of soul-searing rhythm and blues in a style reminiscent of Motown’s greatest legends, Ellis Hall was a protégé of Ray Charles and former lead singer of Tower of Power. The night of R&B classics includes hits by Stevie Wonder; Smokey Robinson; Marvin Gaye; The Temptations; Earth, Wind & Fire; and many more.

Tickets for the concerts above, except where noted, start at $23/$10 students, and are available online at, by phone at (585) 454-2100, or in person at the RPO’s new Patron Services Center (108 East Avenue) and at all Wegmans That’s T.H.E. Ticket! locations.

The 2016/17 Season is presented by Dawn & Jacques Lipson, The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by M&T Bank, and the RPO Pops Series is sponsored by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust and Wegmans. Constellation Brands is an additional concert sponsor for American Music: Stage & Screen. 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 22-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 12,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note: High-resolution images and a complete listing of 2016/17 concerts are available at, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.