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Spotlight on RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde

Rochester, NY – The young, gifted Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Concertmaster, Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair) takes center stage as a concerto soloist performing Brahms’ beautiful and challenging Violin Concerto under Music Director Christopher Seaman at 8:00 pm on Thursday, October 30 and Saturday, November 1.  The concert’s second half features works by Borodin and Tchaikovsky, part of this season’s RPO Russian mini-festival.  Maestro Seaman hosts the pre-concert chat at 7:00 pm. 

Modeled on Beethoven’s earlier Violin Concerto, Brahms’ work was written in 1878, and stands as his only concerto work for that instrument.  According to Christopher Seaman, “the calm opening is deceptive, as much of the first movement is heroic.  The slow movement, with the lovely oboe solo, seems like a balm for the soul, while the finale catches Brahms in one of his favorite moods – that of the Hungarian dance.”

Since her appointment as RPO concertmaster in March 2005, Juliana Athayde has become a favorite of audiences and critics for her huge talent and onstage personality.  Prior to joining the RPO, Juliana was concertmaster of the Canton (Ohio) and Plymouth (Mich.) Symphonies as well as with the New York String Seminar at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Jaime Laredo. She has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra in the United States and in Europe, and has been as a soloist with the RPO and the Asheville, Canton, Diablo, Flint, Mid-Texas, Palo Alto, Plymouth and Wyoming symphony orchestras. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she made her solo debut at the age of 16 performing with the San Francisco Symphony.  She earned her master of music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2005, becoming the first graduate of CIM’s prestigious Concertmaster Academy.

The concert’s second half – part of this season’s RPO Russian mini-festival tying in to the Memorial Art Gallery’s “Russian Icons” exhibit – features works by two Russian composers, Borodin and Tchaikovsky.  Borodin belonged to a group of five composers dedicated to using Russian folk songs as a source for concert music.  Although an amateur musician (he made his living as a chemist), Borodin had a gift for exceptional melodic charm and sensuous, poetic beauty, which shows up in his Symphony No. 2.  The work opens with a very strong, medieval Russian feel, with marvelously-orchestrated fairy-tale themes in the second movement.  The slow, rhapsodic third movement, introduced by its haunting horn solo, transitions to the galloping rhythms of the dance-like Finale. 

The concert ends with Tchaikovsky’s noble and stirring Marche Slav.  The composer used three Serbian tunes to express support for that country, which was at war with Turkey.  The Czar had sent numerous Russian troops to the battle; the inclusion of the Russian National Anthem brought the house down at its premiere.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$56, available online 24/7 at, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm).  The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by The Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb. This concert is sponsored by Zimmer Sales and Services Corp.; Juliana Athayde’s appearance is made possible by The Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund. The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for its PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers $9 Philharmonics Series tickets to local students. 

Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music, presenting nearly 200 performances each season to a combined audience of an estimated quarter of a million people, including more than 70,000 who experience the RPO’s broad range of educational and community programs.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.