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As the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra ends its 50th Season, 

it begins a new partnership with Eastman Community Music School

PLUS: new RPO Assistant Conductor Jherrard Hardeman will lead


Link to broadcast-quality RPYO video:

ROCHESTER, NY – As the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) closes its belated 50th anniversary season celebration, it begins an exciting new chapter that creates even greater educational opportunities for area teen musicians.

A program of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)’s Education Department, the RPYO will now partner with the Eastman School of Music’s Eastman Community Music School (ECMS). The orchestra’s official name will become: Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in association with the Eastman School of Music.

“We are thrilled to announce this exciting new partnership,” says Barbara Brown, the RPO’s Lisk Morris Foundation Vice President of Education Chair. “By pooling our resources, expertise and perspectives, we will be able to provide an even richer experience for our area’s talented young musicians.”

“Eastman and the RPO have a rich history of collaboration,” shares Jamal J. Rossi, Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music. “Bringing together the RPYO with the Eastman Community Music School strengthens both organizations. This new partnership will result in an educational experience that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.”

Starting with the 2023-24 season, RPYO members will register through Eastman Community Music School, gaining access to all ECSM benefits including a potential for discounted tuition. They will also have access to the Sibley Music Library as well as free admission to many Eastman performances. All ECMS students and families will be eligible for discounted tickets to RPO concerts, and RPYO rehearsals will take place on the Eastman campus.

“RPYO and ECMS are both centered on providing opportunities for music-making outside of the school environment, attracting young artists from the area who seek to be challenged and excel in musical artistry,” adds ECMS Associate Dean & Director Petar Kodzas. “We are very excited to welcome musicians from the RPYO to join the vibrant atmosphere of Eastman’s campus to rehearse, study, learn and grow alongside some of the most talented young musicians in the nation.”

Another big change was announced recently: current RPYO Music Director James Mick will turn over the orchestra’s leadership duties to newly appointed RPO Assistant Conductor Jherrard Hardeman.

“Out of all my new RPO duties as of September 1, I’m most excited about working with the RPYO,” says Maestro Hardeman. “Youth orchestras provide so much possibility for growth –both musically and personally – for young people, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

More about the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra: Since 1970, more than 2,100 of the Rochester area’s most talented musicians in grades 8-12 have experienced the challenges and rewards of learning symphonic masterworks while playing in the RPYO. They are admitted through highly competitive auditions each spring and devote themselves throughout the school year to weekly rehearsals, coaching by RPO musicians, an annual Side-by-Side Concert with the RPO, concerts in Rochester’s major performance halls, and periodic trips or other special activities (including performing at Carnegie Hall in 2013 and 2017 and the Kennedy Center in 2020). In the process, RPYO members build excellent musical skills but also develop lifelong habits of teamwork, diligence, responsibility, a dedication to excellence, and a life-long love of music-making. A program of the RPO’s Education Department, six RPYO alumni currently perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. More than 200 of them have performed in professional music ensembles, including other major symphony orchestras. Many others perform in semi-professional and community groups in diverse musical genres. Hundreds have become dedicated music educators (more than 30 in Rochester area schools), as well as composers, conductors, and arts administrators. The RPYO has had four music directors: Howard Weiss, then concertmaster of the RPO, served as its founding music director from 1970-1989. Darryl One followed as RPYO music director and resident conductor of the RPO from 1990-1993. David Harman retired in 2014 following a distinguished tenure of twenty-one years as the RPYO’s third music director. In 2015, James Mick was appointed its fourth music director.

ABOUT THE RPO: The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its origins 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. Music Director Andreas Delfs joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder, Ward Stare, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, now in his 29th season, has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO. The RPO reaches more than 15,000 youth through its specific education programs.

About Eastman Community Music School: The Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) in collaboration with members of the collegiate division faculty, strives to introduce students of all ages to the joy and discipline of music by providing a rich environment that supports each student’s musical participation and enjoyment, develops a solid foundation for the young musician aspiring to a professional career, presents opportunities for lifelong musical experiences, and offers ongoing development for teachers and other music professionals. ECMS believes that music is not only an essential part of a quality education, but also a powerful contributor to quality of life. George Eastman created ECMS in 1921 for the enrichment of the residents of greater Rochester, with the expectation that this experience should be available to everyone, regardless of age, musical background, or ability to pay.

About Eastman School of Music: The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training. More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Guggenheim fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community. Additionally, more than 1,700 members of the Rochester community, from young children through senior citizens, are enrolled in the Eastman Community Music School.

Media please note: High-resolution images and other media assets for the RPYO can be found at Interviews and photo/footage opportunities are also available.