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RPYO/RPO Side-by-Side Concert is March 5th at Kodak Hall

RPYO/RPO Side-by-Side Concert is March 5th at Kodak Hall

Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra celebrates 50 years

Golden Mentors pays tribute to the orchestras’ special relationship


Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (RPYO), founded in 1970, celebrates its belated 50th anniversary this season, after the COVID pandemic prevented its commemoration in 2020-21 and again in 2021-22. Its festive music-making, however, continues to be worth the wait.


The RPYO kicked off its Golden Jubilee season in November 2022, at Hochstein Performance Hall with Golden Past, which featured two RPYO alumni. In December, the youth orchestra held an alumni reunion event called Golden Memories with former, longtime RPYO Music Director Dr. David Harmon as well as the RPYO’s current music director, Dr. James Mick.


The annual RPYO/RPO Side-by-Side Concert – called Golden Mentors this season – returns to Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on March 5, 2023, at 3 PM. As a tribute to the two orchestras’ special relationship, the RPO musicians will play the entire concert – not just the second half as is traditional – alongside their young counterparts.


“As a member of the RPO, I look forward to this concert,” says trumpeter Wesley Nance, who also teaches privately. “There is no greater learning tool for a young orchestral musician than to hear a professional orchestra play at close range and, in fact, become part of that incredible sound.”


“Being able to listen and play next to my teacher, Mr. Nance, and other RPO musicians has been a great learning opportunity and I look forward to it every season,” adds 16-year-old Hilton High School junior Billy Spear, who’s been in the RPYO since eighth grade.


The program includes Margaret Bonds’s Montgomery Variations, “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Marquez’s Danzón No. 2, and Respighi’s Pines of Rome. Tickets are $15/$10 for students and available at 


The celebratory season will culminate with a look towards the RPYO’s Golden Future on May 7 at 4 PM at Nazareth College’s Beston Hall at Glaser Music Performance Center. The orchestra will premiere a commissioned, alumni-composed piece, followed by performances of RPYO concerto competition winners. The concert will close with the very first piece played by the RPYO in 1970: Dvořák’s New World Symphony.  


“We’re thrilled to celebrate this wonderful orchestra’s 50-year history, and we look forward to the next 50 years of helping young people achieve success – whether in music or another field altogether,” says Barbara Brown, the RPO’s Lisk Morris Foundation Vice President of Education Chair.


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. Andreas Delfs was named music director in 2020 following notable RPO music directors Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder 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.


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.