|Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)|
|Location||Rochester, New York, U.S.|
|Concert hall||Eastman Theatre|
|Music director||Ward Stare|
The RPO was founded in 1922 by industrialist and music-lover George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company. The Orchestra performs up to 130 concerts annually. Notable former music directors include Christopher Seaman, Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, and Mark Elder. The RPO has performed under the batons of such renowned guest conductors as Fritz Reiner, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Thomas Beecham, and Leopold Stokowski. In 1947, the RPO chose Leinsdorf over Bernstein for musical director. Leinsdorf "came to despair of what he saw as Rochester's insular musical culture, famously remarking that 'Rochester is the best disguised dead end in the world!'"
From 1939 through 1964, the Rochester Philharmonic, usually supplemented by faculty members of the Eastman School, often recorded under the names Eastman-Rochester Orchestra under the direction of Howard Hanson and Eastman-Rochester Pops under Frederick Fennell. (See below for additional recording information.)
The RPO serves nearly 150,000 people annually through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. RPO concerts also are rebroadcast on WXXI 91.5 FM.
The RPO sponsors the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, founded in 1970 and composed of Rochester-area student musicians in the eighth through twelfth grades. Under the direction of Dr. David Harman, the RPYO performs three concerts annually, including one side-by-side with the RPO. Members of the RPO serve as mentors for the Youth Orchestra.
Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik (1994-present) has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO.
From 1990 through 2008, the RPO has had its summer residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, in Vail, Colorado.
The Orchestra is also a national leader of music education. In 2000, the RPO named Michael Butterman Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) - the first position of its kind in the country. More than 14,000 students of all ages attend RPO concerts each season, and RPO small ensembles perform at elementary schools in the Rochester City School District.
On September 15, 2010, the RPO named Norwegian conductor Arild Remmereit as the Orchestra's 11th Music Director. Maestro Remmereit began his tenure with the RPO in September 2011. His inaugural concert on September 30 and October 1, 2011 featured the music of Amy Beach, Johan Halvorsen, Johan Svendsen, and Johann Strauss II. On November 30, 2012, it was announced that the RPO board had voted to terminate Remmereit's contract two years early.
On May 7, 2014, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra participated in the Spring For Music festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City, performing Howard Hanson's Merry Mount with Michael Christie conducting the RPO, Eastman-Rochester Chorus, Bach Children's Chorus of Nazareth College, and soloists.
|Arild Remmereit ||2011-2013|
The RPO has recorded under at least three different names: Eastman Rochester Orchestra, Rochester Pops Orchestra, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Recordings have featured many prominent American composers, including George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, Morton Gould, and Howard Hanson).
The Orchestra's first recordings were from the late 1930s and early 1940s, conducted by Dr. Hanson and José Iturbi. Among these was a 1939 recording of William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony, conducted by Dr. Hanson. The RPO presented the world premiere of this work in 1931.
A 1941 RPO recording features José Iturbi and his sister Amparo in Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365. Nearly 40 years later, David Zinman conducted a recording of that same piece, with pianists Rudolf Firkusny and Alan Weiss. Maestros Iturbi and Zinman also both recorded Mendelssohn's Third Symphony (the "Scottish") with the RPO.
A 1957 recording features Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F, featuring pianist Eugene List. In 2007, the RPO released another Gershwin recording - which includes those two works and Cuban Overture - with conductor Jeff Tyzik and pianist Jon Nakamatsu. That album reached No. 3 on the Billboard classical charts. A partial list of RPO recordings follows.
|You may hear the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by José Iturbi performing Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op.95 (From the New World) Op. 95 by Antonin Dvorak in 1941 Here on archive.org|
From its earliest years, the RPO's educational programming has been exceptional, and the Orchestra was one of the first to use radio to help increase its outreach and education. The RPO first began national radio broadcasts, on the NBC Blue Network, in 1929. In 1939, the orchestra won First Place at the Exhibition of Educational Programs for its elementary school programming. The RPO won this honor again in 1941 and 1944.
In 1959, the Ford Foundation invited the RPO to participate in a program to promote new American composers and their works. The RPO has received the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming (1982, 2005, 2006, and 2012) in recognition of the Orchestra's commitment to music written in the last 25 years. In 2002, the RPO was awarded the New York State Governor's Arts Award for excellence and community service. The Rochester Arts and Cultural Council's Artist Award has been given to both Jeff Tyzik (2002) and Christopher Seaman (2003).
The Concert Companion radio broadcast with Christopher Seaman on WXXI 91.5 FM won both the Gabriel Award and the Silver Reel Award in 2002. In 2007, the RPO's web site received two of the Rochester Business Journal's "Best of the Web" awards; and that same year, the RPO's annual report received an award from the Rochester chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. In 2013, the RPO again was awarded the Rochester Business Journal's "Best of the Web" Award for Nonprofit (Cultural).
In 2012, the RPO received the first-ever Amy Award for Excellence in Orchestral Programming from Women's Philharmonic Advocacy.
In 2018, the RPO and harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, conducted by Ward Stare, recorded the world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon's Harp Concerto which received a Grammy Award in 2020 for Best Contemporary Classical Composition and was nominated for Best Classical Instrumental Solo in the same year.
Rochester's Orchestra: A History of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and its Educational Programming, 1922 to 1989; by William L. Cahn, published 1989.
The Eastman Theatre: Fulfilling George Eastman's Dream; by Elizabeth Brayer, photos by Andy Olenick, design by Kathryn D'Amanda; to be published in December 2010.