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RPO’s View of the Galaxy and a Classical Farewell

Rochester, NY – An imaginative trip into outer space paired with an appropriate symphonic “farewell” will close the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2008-09 Philharmonic Series season at 8:00 pm on Thursday, May 21 and Saturday, May 23.  Just as he opened the season, Music Director Christopher Seaman closes it with a special plan in mind for the musicians to depart the stage in the Philharmonics farewell to the existing Eastman Theatre prior to the renovation and re-opening of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre in October, 2009.  Seaman also will host the pre-concert chat at 7:00 pm. 

In Gustav Holst’s seven-movement suite The Planets, premiered in 1918, the audience takes a symphonic tour of our solar system (minus Earth and Pluto) accompanied by Holst’s imaginative and unique instrumentation with women’s voices of the Rochester Oratorio Society, Eric Townell, director.  Each planet is represented by music inspired by the very Roman deities for whom each was named. Opening with Mars, the Bringer of War, the focus is on the timpani, reminiscent both of the military and the crash and rumble of war.  The piece tours through Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; and closes with Nepture, the Mystic. In the final bars, the orchestra falls silent and the voices echo, over and over, until they fade into silent infinity.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 “Farewell,” was written both as a dramatic and theatrical work reflecting the “new” sturm und drang (storm and stress) musical style of the time.  The symphony opens with drama and sudden dynamic shifts, moving into a slow movement full of pathos, wistfulness, and yearning.  A quieter third movement includes a quote from an ancient Gregorian chant melody.  The storms return to the last movement, only to come to an abrupt halt, switching to a serene and restful Adagio.  The symphony also communicated a not-so-subtle message to the Hungarian Prince Nicolaus Esterházy, for whom Haydn and the court orchestra were in service.  In 1772, the Prince stayed at his summer palace into November, necessitating that the musicians do the same.  At the first performance, members of the orchestra – either singly or in pairs – blew out their music stand candles and began to depart the stage, with only Haydn and the concertmaster left.  Haydn’s message to the Prince on behalf of the homesick musicians came across loud and clear; the Prince packed up the summer residence the following day.   Rochester audiences will see how Christopher Seaman “translates” this into the RPO’s Philharmonics “farewell” to the existing Eastman Theatre.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$56, available online 24/7 at; by phone (454-2100); in-person from the RPO Box Office, 108 East Avenue, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.  Students and Senior Citizens are entitled to a 20% discount on advance single ticket purchases. Special rates for groups of 10 or more are also available from the RPO Box Office.

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted $9 Philharmonics Series tickets to local students.