Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Announces Centennial Season

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By: Feb. 16, 2023
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Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Announces Centennial Season

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) announced its upcoming Centennial Season programming at a festive, free Season Announcement Concert Wednesday evening in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Co-hosted by Music Director Andreas Delfs and Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, the orchestra's artistic leaders revealed September 2023 - June 2024's exciting concerts to an enthusiastic full house, with excerpts performed by the world-class orchestra.

We've worked hard to put together a season like no other," exclaims Maestro Delfs. "It will be full of blockbuster performances, a nod to our founder George Eastman and the history of this orchestra, world-renowned guest artists - including many with Rochester connections - and the world premieres of four new works commissioned specifically for our 100th Season!"

Kicking off the Centennial celebration is the first Special Concert of the 2023-24 Season: Rochester Welcomes Renée Fleming on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at 8 PM in Kodak Hall. A Centennial Gala takes place that evening as well, with more details to be announced. The Rochester native and Metropolitan Opera star comes home for one night only to join Maestro Delfs and the RPO for an evening of Grand Opera, the best of Broadway, and her signature selection: Strauss' final, poignant Four Last Songs. One of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time, Ms. Fleming has been honored with five Grammy awards and the U.S. National Medal of Arts. She has sung for momentous occasions, from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Other 2023-24 Specials announced last night are Star Wars: A New Hope, Film Live With Orchestra on January 3, 2024, at 7:30 PM at the Rochester Auditorium Theatre; and holiday favorite The Nutcracker with Rochester City Ballet in Kodak Hall on November 22-26, 2023.

The Centennial Philharmonics Series features world-renowned guest artists with RPO and/or Rochester ties: former RPO Music Director David Zinman, favorite pianists Olga Kern and Jon Nakamatsu, Rochester's own Garth Fagan Dance, former RPO Assistant Conductor Peter Bay, and RPO Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Internationally acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein; violinists Sarah Chang, Karen Gomyo, and Benjamin Beilman; bass-baritones Eric Owens and Andrew Bogard; and pianist Yefim Bronfman will also take the Eastman Theatre stage.

The 100th Philharmonics Series opens with Andreas Conducts Beethoven's Eroica on September 21 & 23, 2022, and closes with Beethoven's monumental Ninth Symphony: Centennial Season Finale: Ode to Joy on May 30 & June 1, 2024. Between these towering bookends, the orchestra presents a season full of beloved masterpieces including Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mahler's Fifth Symphony, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Holst's The Planets, Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and Ravel/Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Maestro Delfs conducts all but those with special, RPO-related guest conductors. (A full schedule is attached and/or at the media assets link in the final paragraph of this release.)

Next season's Philharmonics Series will also feature world premieres of pieces written specifically to celebrate the RPO's Centennial by four renowned American composers. Aaron Jay Kernis' piece will kick off the exciting Season Opener, David Hertzberg's HQ was inspired by the life and death of George Eastman, Sarah Kirkland Snider in collaboration with visual designer Deborah Johnson muses on the life of Eastman and Kodak, and Derrick Skye - whose A Rage of Peace made its world premiere with the RPO this past November - will open the joyous Season Finale. Methuselah, by Iranian-American composer Gity Razaz (commissioned by the League of American Orchestras with the generous support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation) will make its Rochester premiere.

The 2023-24 Pops Series marks Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik's 30th anniversary season with the orchestra.

"I feel extremely fortunate to call the RPO my hometown orchestra - an orchestra that can play anything from Beethoven to The Beatles and blow the roof off Kodak Hall," says Maestro Tyzik. "In celebration of both anniversaries, we've come up with a Pops Series that includes a bit of RPO history, incredible guest artists, and brand-new programs that I think Rochester will love."

The Centennial Pops Series opens with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - In Concert on October 20 & 21. On November 3 & 4, the RPO's own "Prince of Pops" leads 30 Years of Jeff Tyzik! featuring orchestra musicians playing pieces written for them by the Grammy-winner as well as Rochester's Kearstin Piper Brown and Madrigalia. RPO favorite Shayna Steele gets her own new show, American Diva with Shayna Steele (Nov. 10 & 11); the 30th Gala Holiday Pops returns (Dec. 15-17) with Rochester storyteller Jay Stetzer; and Andreas Delfs takes his turn on the Pops Series with Andreas & Kelli O'Hara (Jan. 5 & 6, 2024). Dynamic Brazilian jazz group Brasilia makes its RPO debut (Jan.19 & 20), two favorite guest conductors - Byron Stripling and former RPO Principal Conductor/Artistic Director Bob Bernhardt - lead When the Saints Go Marching In (March 15 & 16) and Lights! Camera! Pops! (April 26 & 27) respectively. The RPO closes out its Centennial Pops Series with Maestro Tyzik leading the Rochester premiere of Twist & Shout: The Music of the Beatles, A Symphonic Experience, with rare and unseen photos from the exclusive Beatles Photo Book Archives.

Each of the four concerts in the Centennial Sunday Matinée Series at 2 PM in Nazareth College's Beston Hall at Glazer Performance Center pairs one of Mozart's piano concertos with serenades by Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Dvořák, and Wagner. Each will also feature the creative talents of four recent winners of the RPO's Composers from Rochester Competition.

· September 10, 2023: Mozart & Tchaikovsky (Chiao-Wen Cheng, piano)

· December 10, 2023: Mozart & Brahms (Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, piano)

· March 24, 2024: Mozart & Dvořák (Marina Lomazov, piano)

· May 26, 2024: Mozart & Wagner (Albert Cano Smit, piano)

In addition to revealing next season's exciting programming, Maestros Delfs and Tyzik also revisited some important Centennial initiatives that were announced at a press conference two weeks ago: the RPO's new Orchestral Program for Urban Students (OPUS), which will bring even more educational opportunities to students in Rochester's urban core; and 100 Acts of Giving Back, which will provide 100 free events in various community venues and expands the RPO's Care and Wellness Initiative. Tyzik will conduct a free 100 Acts of Giving Back Kickoff Concert on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:30 PM at Hochstein Performance Hall. The 1920s ragtime theme coincides with the orchestra's 100th anniversary, and will include music from Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, George Gershwin, and Rochester's own Cab Calloway. Admission is free but tickets must be reserved in advance at, by phone at 585-454-2100, or in person at RPO Patron Services at 225 East Avenue (Monday -Friday, 10 AM-5 PM).

"Your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra invites you to join us as we proudly step into our Centennial Season and celebrate 100 years of music that empowers and builds, cares and transforms, connects and inspires, and most of all - music that moves us all," adds RPO President & CEO Curt Long. "The RPO's 100-year legacy of artistic excellence and innovation is matched only by our continuing commitment to providing enriching educational and engagement opportunities to this community."

Also unveiled at last evening's concert is a unique Centennial collaboration: the Black Button and RPO Sonic Aged Bourbon.

"Composing and performing a great piece of music is not unlike producing and carefully aging a great bourbon. Both take time, both take great care and practice, and both produce something worthy of a standing ovation. Black Button Distilling decided to meld both great arts through an experimental process known as sonic aging," explains Rochester's Black Button Distilling Founder & Master Distiller Jason Barrett.

Sonic aging involves playing a piece of music directly to the aging barrel, where the pulsating sound waves agitate the bourbon, making it more vibrant and flavorful. The agitator chosen for this experiment was the RPO's own performance of Beethoven's Egmont Overture, a recording made at its benefit Concert for Ukraine in Kodak Hall on March 12, 2022.

"While other distillers have chosen music from the likes of Metallica and Pearl Jam, Black Button specifically partnered with the RPO to bring a more refined and complex character to our bourbon," adds Barrett. "We are excited for the local community to taste, listen, and experience the collaboration of our two great Rochester institutions. Cheers!"

Audience members were invited to join a post-concert cocktail hour featuring selected Black Button Distilling products as well as to toast the upcoming season with Maestros Delfs and Tyzik.

Subscription renewals are on sale starting today: online anytime at, by phone at 585-454-2100, and in person at RPO Patron Services at 225 East Avenue (Monday -Friday, 10 AM-5 PM). Packages start at $125, with Specials and single ticket add-on savings of up to 15% as well as pre-sale access, a free 22-23 concert, and free parking. New subscription sales will begin on March 1 and include the same incentives; single tickets go on sale in July.

Tickets for all current 2022-23 Season Kodak Hall shows start at $24/$12 for children ages 3-17 and are available online anytime at, by phone at 585-454-2100, and in person at RPO Patron Services at 225 East Avenue (Monday -Friday, 10 AM-5 PM) and one hour prior to curtain at the Eastman Theatre Box Office (433 East Main St.). COVID protocols: Vaccinations are no longer required to attend concerts and masking is currently optional


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