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Special RPO Concert Previewing International Recording

Rochester, NY– Consider it a “sneak listen” for lucky Rochester music-lovers. A special concert on Sunday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m. at Eastman Theatre by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestraand Van Cliburn Award-winning pianist Jon Nakamatsu will afford Rochester the opportunity to “preview” the next RPO recording. Under the baton of Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, A Grand Gershwin Celebration includes favorites like Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, the rarely-heard “Rhumba” from the Cuban Overture, rounded out by Lullaby (for strings) and the Overture to “Girl Crazy,” the popular musical with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Subsequent to this concert, the RPO and Nakamatsu will record the first three pieces for a summer 2007 international CD release on the harmonia mundi usa label.

Jon Nakamatsu is no stranger to Rochester audiences and RPO fans. The pianist’s first recording with the RPO and Music Director Christopher Seaman in works by Rachmaninoff received wide critical acclaim. Last week, Nakamatsu opened the RPO’s residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival with Christopher Seaman, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C Major “Elvira Madigan.” A frequent concerto soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and solo recitalist throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, Nakamatsu enjoys a continuously expanding career based on illuminating musicality as well as a quietly charismatic performing style. According to Gramophone Magazine, Nakamatsu’s playing “takes on a truly magical, communing ease and finesse… Nakamatsu’s brilliantly engaged performance paints a portrait of a remarkably wide-ranging and stylish artist.”

Rhapsody in Blue was commissioned by well-known bandleader Paul Whiteman, who gave its premiere in 1924 in a program entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music” with his band, an added string section, and Gershwin himself on the piano. The composer spoke of the Rhapsody as “a musical kaleidoscope of America.” This piece holds a special meaning for the Nakamatsu, who performed it at the White House during the 1998-99 season, hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Written in 1925, Concerto in F probably is closer in form to a traditional piano concerto than its Rhapsody predecessor. Orchestrated entirely by Gershwin, the three-movement work features the popular 1920s “Charleston” dance rhythm, a “bluesy” second movement, and an energetic finale.

The Cuban Overture for orchestra was the result of a two-week holiday that Gershwin took in Havana, Cuba in 1932. Originally titled Rhumba, the symphonic overture illustrates the Cuban music and dance influence, featuring native Cuban percussion and coloristic sophistication. The New York Philharmonic premiered the work in an all-Gershwin concert the same year it was written.

Ninety-thousand dollars in financial support for the Gershwin recording was generously donated by Honorary Board Member Al Davis in celebration of his 90th birthday last March. In recognition of Davis’ generous gift, Dr. Jacques and Dawn Lipson made a smaller gift toward the recording expenses.

Tickets prices for this concert are $10, 20, 30, and 40, and are on sale at the RPO Box Office (585) 454-2100, online at or at any Wegmans Video Department.

Now in its 83rd season, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s mission is to perform and present a broad range of quality music; attract, entertain and educate audiences with superior musical performances; maintain and build the Orchestra’s national reputation; and enhance the reputation of the Rochester community as a place in which to live, work, play, visit and learn.

RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; the County of Monroe; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO.