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Almost 90 area teens perform in honor of Presidents’ Day
Reprise performance with RPO in Kodak Hall on Sunday, March 5


Rochester, NY – A total of 88 eighth-through-twelfth graders who play in the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) will travel to New York City during Presidents’ Day weekend to perform at Carnegie Hall on Sunday, February 19 at 1 p.m.

The student group, which is sponsored by the Education Department of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), will appear for its second time at this famous New York City concert hall, which draws renowned musicians from all over the world. Previous RPYO Music Director Dr. David Harman led the orchestra in its first Carnegie Hall performance in 2013, following several international tours in previous years.

“Performing outside of Rochester is something we try to offer our young musicians at least once during their time with us, and we’re delighted to be invited again to play in such a beautiful, acoustically rich, and historic venue,” says RPYO Co-Manager Susan Basu.

In Rochester, the RPYO performs three concerts each year in major performance halls, including a Side-by-Side concert with the musicians of the RPO, who mentor their young counterparts. The RPYO will reprise part of its Carnegie Hall performance in this year’s Side-by-Side with the RPO: Mahler’s Magic on Sunday, March 5 at 3 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. That program will also feature RPYO Concerto Competition winners.

RPYO Music Director Dr. James Mick, who has led the youth orchestra since 2015, will conduct the group’s portion of the Carnegie concert, produced by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY). Entitled The Glory of Freedom in honor of Presidents’ Day, the afternoon program will also include Randall Thompson’s The Testament of Freedom and Francis Poulenc’s Gloria, performed by the West Point Alumni Glee Club and a dozen other choruses from around the country.  

“We are first on the program, and will be playing three pieces: Richard Wagner’s Prelude to ‘Die Mesitersinger von Nürnberg;’ Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, mvt. 3; and Arturo Márquez’s Danzon No. 2,” explains Mick, who will be making his first conducting appearance at Carnegie Hall, but performed there during his own high school days. “The memory is indelibly etched in my mind as a musical high point of my youth, and it’s thrilling to now have the opportunity to watch this same experience manifest itself in a new generation of young musicians.”

RPYO musicians rehearse weekly in addition to receiving coaching from RPO musicians. They are some of the most accomplished middle- and high-school musicians from twenty-one schools in a multi-county area, and are admitted through highly competitive auditions each April.

This trip, however – like the group itself – is about more than hard work. The students will attend a New York Philharmonic concert at Lincoln Center that includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, a portion of which they’ll perform the following afternoon. A special rehearsal with musicians of the New York Phil and visits to the World Trade Center Memorial and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are also part of the itinerary.

“Many of our alumni go on to make music professionally – like RPO Music Director Ward Stare, who played trombone in our group – and two current New York Philharmonic musicians, whom we’ll visit during our trip,” explains RPYO Manager Irene Narotsky. “Whatever their later career choices, though, all our teenage musicians experience life-enriching musical growth that profoundly affects their personal and professional futures.”

Tickets to The Glory of Freedom concert at Carnegie Hall are available online at, by phone at CarnegieCharge: (212) 247-7800, and at the Carnegie Box Office up to concert time. They range from $20-$100. Tickets for Side-by-Side with the RPO: Mahler’s Magic are available online at, by phone at (585) 454-2100, in person at the RPO’s new Patron Services Center (108 East Avenue) or from RPYO musicians. Advance ticket prices:  $15 adults, $10 students & seniors; at the door:  $17 adults, $12 students & seniors.

The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO) was established in 1970 to offer young musicians of Rochester and Western New York State a superb orchestral experience. Sponsored by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the RPYO has been enriched by the presence of the Eastman School of Music, the RPO, and the many professional musicians who have made Rochester their home. Its 90 middle and high school musicians are drawn from schools within and around the Rochester metropolitan region, where public school music education programs have deep and committed community support. Musicians formerly from the RPYO currently fill chairs in the Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Dallas Symphonies, as well as the New York and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestras, in addition to numerous other ensembles throughout the country. Whatever their later professional direction, all of our teenage musicians experience life-enriching musical growth as members of a youth orchestra that profoundly affects their later personal and professional lives.

Media please note: a high-resolution photo of the RPYO as well as photos of individual musicians are available on request, and interview and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.