Michael Butterman will end his tenure as Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal conductor for education and community engagement at the end of his contract, which expires Aug. 31, 2018.
Butterman will continue to serve in his current RPO position through the 2017-18 season.
“We are grateful for Michael’s years of service and dedication to the RPO,” said Curt Long, president and CEO. “As creator, conductor and host of hundreds of concerts for young people and adults over the past 17 years, Michael has deepened our commitment to inspire, educate and engage our community through music. The RPO is privileged to have had the substantial contributions that Michael has made to the orchestra and the Rochester community.”
Butterman became RPO principal conductor for education and outreach — the first endowed position of its kind in the country — in 2000 after a two-year search. RPO refined its approach to education during his tenure, specifically emphasizing interactive programming that complements classroom curricula. It expanded its audience and reach, impacting more than 20,000 students annually.
“Michael has made a tremendous contribution to the RPO family and to our community during his remarkable tenure, passionately sharing his love of music and enriching the lives of audiences of all ages throughout Rochester,” said Ward Stare, RPO music director. “We are especially grateful for the standard of excellence Michael has set for our education programs, and know that many thousands of students and families will continue to benefit from his incredible work.”
Butterman’s role included planning and conducting Sunday Matinee, OrKIDStra, Primary Education, Intermediate Education, Tiny Tots, Around the Town and city and county concerts. He appeared on the Philharmonics and Pops series, and conducted RPO’s annual performances of “The Nutcracker” with Rochester City Ballet. In 2011, he conducted RPO on a recording of “The Story of Babar” featuring actor John Lithgow. He received the Monroe County Music Educators’ Award for his contributions to area school music programs in 2013.
“Michael has been deeply committed to the idea that orchestra music is an essential part, not a frivolous extra, in the education of children,” said Bill Cahn, music educator and former RPO principal percussionist. “His concerts for Rochester’s children have been everything that an educational program by a symphony orchestra should be — centered on some of the world’s most inspiring classical music, focused and well-thought out narrations with universal subjects and interactive experiences that enable students to participate.”
Butterman serves as music director of Boulder Philharmonic, Shreveport Symphony and Pennsylvania Philharmonic orchestras. He just completed a 15-year tenure with Jacksonville Symphony, first as associate and then as resident conductor. He led many ensembles around the country as a guest conductor, including Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras.
“As my professional responsibilities expand and, in particular, as our daughter prepares to enter high school in the fall of 2018, I feel it important to make adjustments to reduce my travel schedule and workload in general,” Butterman said. “I do so only after a great deal of reflection, since my work with the RPO has been among the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Our primary responsibilities as professional musicians are to communicate the joy of music and to help connect ever more people to its life-enriching power. The RPO embraces these goals, and it has been a privilege to work with my extraordinary colleagues in the orchestra in the service of this vision.”
Butterman’s conducting highlights in the current season include “The Nutcracker” through Nov. 26; “Anderson & Roe” on April 15, 2018; “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” on May 20, 2018; and “Schumann’s Symphony No. 4” on June 3, 2018.
Although his official tenure will conclude at the end of the 2017-18 season, he will return to lead several performances in the 2018-19 season, including OrKIDStra, Sunday Matinee and Primary Education concerts.
“Michael has been a part of the RPO family for my entire tenure, and it has been a joy to work with him on wide-ranging projects that have benefitted our community,” said Juliana Athayde, RPO concertmaster. “He never fails to bring an inspiring level of commitment to the music, and communicates effortlessly with audiences. I always look forward to his educations concerts especially, as he finds dynamic ways to connect students to symphonic music and their reactions as they experience much of this music for the first time are thrilling. We are sad to see Michael go, but look forward to his return as a guest in the coming seasons.”
RPO will celebrate Butterman’s 18 years of service with a special concert to be announced.