Back to Posts

Your RPO Welcomes Seven New Musicians

Your RPO Welcomes Seven New Musicians

Including Three New Section Principals

Rochester, NY – Your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is sounding better than ever this season with the addition of seven new musicians and one promotion, including three new principals (section leaders).

“Welcoming these extraordinary musicians into our musical family is an important step in helping the RPO reach new heights of artistic excellence as we ramp up into our Centennial celebration next season,” says Maestro Delfs. “Audiences are enthusiastically responding to the orchestra’s renewed energy and passion.”

New RPO Musicians:

The RPO’s new Principal Second Violin Jeanelle Thompson, a native of Arizona, made her solo debut with the Phoenix Symphony at the age of 16. In 2016, she received her undergraduate degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she was awarded the Dr. Jerome Gross Prize in Violin. Most recently, she performed as a substitute with the Cleveland Orchestra throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. She was also a member of the Preparatory Chamber Music faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music as well as a frequent guest concertmaster.

New Principal Viola Joshua Newburger – The William L. Gamble Chair (funded in perpetuity) – earned his Master’s degree in viola from Yale. Most recently, he was assistant principal violist with the Pacific Symphony, and he has toured extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia as a member of the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra. During his time in the Los Angeles area, Josh recorded for numerous feature films and television productions, working with renowned composers including John Williams, and he can be heard on soundtracks for the Star Wars, LEGO Movie, Creed, and IT franchises. He’s also on the faculty at Eastman School of Music.

Taiwanese pianist Chiao-Wen Cheng, the new Principal Keyboard, is The Lois P. Lines Chair (funded in perpetuity). She began piano lessons with her aunt at age four and now holds a doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she is currently an Assistant Professor of Collaborative Piano. In addition to her many solo engagements, Cheng is a sought-after collaborative partner through her sensitive playing, vibrant sound colors, and detailed voicing. She has won numerous piano competitions and awards, including the Excellence in Accompanying Award at Eastman.

Violinist Sooyeon Kim, a native of Korea, was most recently Assistant Concertmaster of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. She has held principal positions with the Juilliard Orchestra and the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, where she earned both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. Recipient of the Stallar Award, she’s currently pursuing her Doctoral of Musical Art Degree at Stony Brook University. An avid chamber musician, Sooyeon has also made solo appearances in Japan, Korea, and Switzerland as well as numerous recitals at Lincoln Center.

A native of South Korea, violist Yein Son received her Master of Music from Yale and is currently a candidate for Doctor of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University. She has performed at music festivals internationally and domestically, including the Heifetz International Music Festival with full scholarship and the Montecito International Music Festival with fellowship. Most recently, she was a substitute violist with Albany Symphony, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Violist Rebecca Christainsen is from Palo Alto, California and graduated from Williams College in 2021, majoring in chemistry and music. While at Williams, Rebecca played in the Berkshire Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Williams, I/O New Music, and the Axxea Quartet. She performed the Bartok Viola Concerto with the Berkshire Symphony in 2022, having won the concerto competition in 2020. She was awarded the Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship in music during her senior year at Williams. After graduating, Rebecca worked as an options trader in New York City before joining the RPO. She plays a 1980 viola by Hiroshi Iizuka.

Sean Marron – currently a student at the Eastman School of Music – is the RPO’s new Second Flute and Piccolo. In 2022, Sean attended the Aspen Music Festival, where he was a finalist in the woodwind concerto competition and was invited to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Bravo! Vail Music Festival. Sean has also attended the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute, and he was the piccolo fellow at the 2021 Virtual Flute Music Festival. He has given numerous recitals at Eastman including with his woodwind quintet – the Barbershop quintet – which has also appeared at numerous other venues in the Rochester area.

New RPO Promotions:

Lars Kirvan, who joined the RPO in 2008 as its third-chair cello, is the newly promoted Assistant Principal Cello. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was a student of the Cleveland Orchestra’s former principal cellist, Stephen Geber. Kirvan was a member of the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra, where he served as a principal, and a member and principal with the New World Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. He was recently invited to join the World Orchestra for Peace, conducted by Valery Gergiev. Most recently, Kirvan is the assistant principal cellist of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

RPO tickets are available online anytime at, by phone at 585-454-2100 (Monday-Friday,10 AM-5 PM), and in person at RPO Patron Services at 225 East Avenue (Monday -Friday, 10 AM-5 PM) and 60 minutes prior to curtain at the venue. COVID protocols have been updated: Vaccinations are no longer required to attend concerts. Masking is currently optional, but a masks-only section is available.

The RPO thanks Season Sponsor M&T Bank, Pops Series Sponsors Canandaigua National Bank & Wegmans, and Special Series Sponsor Pittsford Federal Credit Union.

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. Music Director Andreas Delfs joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Mark Elder, Ward Stare, and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, now in his 28th 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: Additional new musician photos as well as their extended bios, more high-resolution images, and other 2022-23 RPO Press Assets can be found at Interviews and photo/footage opportunities are also available.