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The British Invasion at the RPO

Rochester, NY – It will be the Brits interpreting the music of German Romantics in the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s “The Great Romantics” concerts on Thursday, February 22 and Saturday February 24 at 8 p.m. at the Eastman Theatre.   The concerts feature three of the finest examples of music from the Romantic period. Music Director Christopher Seaman welcomes long-time friend and countryman, British pianist John Lill in his RPO debut performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1.   Christopher Seaman will hold the pre-concert chat at 7:00 p.m.

The concert begins with Weber’s evocative opera overture Der Freischütz – translated as huntsman or marksman – with the sound of horns as if coming out of the depth of a German forest, followed by an energetic hunt and romantic conclusion, giving a wonderful picture of the magical, fairytale story.  Next is Schumann’s Second Symphony, written when the composer was coming out of one of his depressed periods.  The work emerges as a miracle of the human spirit over the most trying circumstances.  The piece charts an emotional arc from conflict to victory, with the last movement – a joyful Finale – utilizing a musical quote from Beethoven that Schumann may have used as a tribute to his wife, Clara.

Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 is an appropriate follow-up to Schumann’s Symphony.  Written during a difficult time in Brahms’ life (Schumann had died just three years earlier, and Brahms was said to be madly in love with Clara Schumann), it symbolizes the composer’s effort to combine pianistic effects with the orchestra, as opposed to earlier concertos where the orchestra effectively accompanied the piano.  Maestro Seaman describes the concerto as “a symphony for piano and orchestra.”  Seaman’s description continues: “The dramatic, heroic opening heralds a movement of great strength, perfectly balancing tragedy with hope.  The fierce Scherzo is followed by a glorious, profoundly spiritual slow movement, ending in a Finale which finds Brahms in his ‘Hungarian’ mood.”

Pianist John Lill gave his first piano recital at the age of nine and has never looked back.  At 18, he performed Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto under the celebrated British conductor sir Adrian Boult, and made his much-acclaimed London debut with Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall.  In 1970, Lill won the most coveted of all the major prizes and awards, the Moscow International Tchaikovsky Competition.  Lill has performed in more than 40 countries both as a recitalist and a soloist with the majority of the world’s leading orchestras.  In 2005, he was awarded the Commander of the British Empire for his services to music. 

Tickets for these performances are $20-$54, available online 24/7 at, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at any Wegmans.  RPO Box Office hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Wegmans is open seven days a week, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.  A convenience fee may apply.

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb; John Lill’s appearance is made possible by The Alfred Davis and Brunhilde Knapp Artists Performance Fund. The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students. 

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  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.

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; Monroe County; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO. 

Note: Digital photos of Mr. Lill are available.