Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra recently announced its 2018/19 season to a packed house in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre during its fourth-annual Season Preview Concert.
The entire orchestra performed selected excerpts. Ward Stare, music director, and Jeff Tyzik, principal pops conductor, served as masters of ceremonies.
“I’m thrilled to be celebrating my 25th anniversary with RPO next season,” Tyzik said. “This milestone creates an extra level of excitement for me, and I’m looking forward to sharing great musical moments with our audiences. We’ll be premiering a new tango concert and special program about the musical relationship between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Plus, my friend and Rochester music legend Don Potter will join us for our Gala Holiday Pops.”
Stare, a Rochester native, started the preview concerts when he became RPO’s 12th and youngest music director in 2014.
“We have an incredible season planned — almost 70 performances in Kodak Hall that range from familiar masterpieces to world premieres,” Stare said. “We’re hosting superstar guest artists, showing off our own amazing musicians and adding even more accessible programming for the whole family. I’m particularly looking forward to the live recording of Jennifer Higdon’s new Harp Concerto in the fall. It’s a great honor to be the first orchestra to record a new piece by a great composer, and audiences will be part of something really special, too.”
Leslie Odom Jr., star of Broadway’s “Hamilton,” will join Tyzik and RPO at 8 p.m. on Jan. 18, 2019, in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester.
Other special concerts include “Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy” at 8 p.m. on Sept. 25, “Tim Burton’s ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’ in Concert” at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24, “The Nutcracker” with Rochester City Ballet on Nov. 21-25 and “‘Ghostbusters’ in Concert” at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5.
“Michael Butterman Gala Celebration” will celebrate Butterman’s 18 seasons as a RPO staff conductor at 8 p.m. on May 4, 2019. The program will feature the Frequent Flyer Cirque Troupe.
Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet will perform in an all-Gershwin concert conducted by Stare. Thibaudet performed at the highest level around the world for more than three decades and on award-winning film scores and jazz albums. He recorded more than 50 albums, and is sought after by orchestras, festivals, conductors and collaborative musicians. “Jean-Yves Thibaudet” will feature Thibaudet playing Gershwin’s Concerto in F at 8 p.m. on Oct. 3. RPO will perform the Overture to “Girl Crazy,” Suite from “Porgy and Bess” and “An American in Paris.”
New and renewing subscribers to a 2017/18 Philharmonics, Pops, Compose-Your-Own or Sunday Matinee Series package will enjoy priority access to special concert tickets.
The 96th Philharmonics Series will open with “Dvorak’s New World” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 13 and Sept. 25 at Eastman Theatre. After Berlioz’s “Roman Carnival Overture,” pianist Yefim Bronfman will return to perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The program will close with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “New World Symphony.”
On Sept. 20 and Sept. 22, RPO will perform its first live recording for commercial release since 2011. Stare will lead the orchestra in the world premiere recording of Higdon’s Harp Concerto, a co-commission by RPO with virtuoso harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. Rochester audiences will preview the piece at this season’s world premiere performance on May 10 and May 12. “American Songbook/Bernstein Centennial” will feature works by three American composers: Samuel Barber, Patrick Harlin and Leonard Bernstein’s Divertimento, a piece that continues the celebration of Bernstein’s Centennial that starts on March 1 and March 3.
The 14-concert Philharmonics Series will feature a mix of favorites, guest artists and RPO first performances and debuts.
Guest conductor Andreas Delfs will lead Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica” on Oct. 18 and Oct. 20. Strauss’ Duet-concertino for Clarinet and Bassoon will feature RPO principal clarinet Kenneth Grant and principal bassoon Matthew McDonald. Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll,” named for his son, will complete the program.
“Tyzik Conducts Tyzik” on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 will celebrate his 25th season with RPO. The concert will feature Tyzik’s 2016 Jazz Concerto for Violin and Orchestra with concertmaster Juliana Athayde, as well as his “IMAGES: Musical Impressions of an Art Gallery” from 2012. The concert will continue the Bernstein Centennial with “On the Town: Three Dance Episodes.”
Oregon Symphony music director Carlos Kalmar will lead Haydn’s Symphony No. 98, Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1” and Kodaly’s “Galanta Dances” during “Rustic Hungarian Harmonies” on Nov. 8 and Nov. 10. The program will feature principal cello Ahrim Kim as she solos on Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor.
Stare will lead Rochester Oratorio Society in Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” as well as the first performance by RPO of Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” on Dec. 13 and Dec. 15.
Guest conductor Gemma New will make her RPO debut with Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” during “Kholodenko Returns/Scheherazade” on Jan. 17 and Jan. 19, 2019. Vadym Kholodenko, gold medalist in the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, will play Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major.
Stare will conduct Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Rachmaninoff’s “Isle of the Dead” on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, 2019. Van Cliburn gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu will perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
RPO conductor laureate Christopher Seaman will make his annual return with Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Delius’ “The Walk to the Paradise Garden” during “The Enigma Variations” on Feb. 7 and Feb. 9, 2019. Angelo Xiang Zu, winner of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition, will make his RPO debut with Mozart‘s Violin Concerto No. 4
Stare will conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 on Feb. 28 and March 2, 2019.
Stare will lead a musical journey through Russia’s Stalin years in “Shostakovich 10” on March 7 and March 9, 2019. Augustin Hadelich, 2017 Musical America Instrumentalist of the Year, will perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto.
Stare will lead Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” in “An Orchestral Odyssey” on March 21 and March 23, 2019. Pianist Stephen Hough will perform Dvorak’s Piano Concerto. Brahms’ “Tragic” Overture will end the program.
“Michael Francis Conducts Rachmaninoff” on April 11 and April 13, 2019, will feature the guest conductor as he gives William Walton’s Symphony No. 1 its first performance by RPO. Van Cliburn gold medalist Yekwon Sunwoo will make his RPO debut with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3.
Fresh off his Metropolitan Opera debut, Stare will close the 2018/19 season with RPO’s first performance of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” on May 9 and May 11, 2019.
The 2017/19 Pops Series will open the first of its nine programs on Sept. 28-29 with Tyzik and the return of “Cirque de la Symphonie.”
The series will continue on Oct. 26-27 with “Broadway Today.” “Giants of Music: 1900-1925” on Nov. 16-17 will feature the music of Joplin, Berlin and Gershwin with Van Cliburn gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu on piano and Broadway star Doug LaBrecque on vocals. Tyzik will lead his 25th Gala Holiday Pops on Dec. 19-23.
RPO will continue its “Harry Potter” Film Concert series with “‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’: Film with Orchestra” on Jan. 11-12, 2019. The orchestra will perform John Williams’ score live while the film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.
The film in concert program will continue on Jan. 25-26, 2019, with an Oscar-winning best original score. More information will be available on a later date.
“Queens of Soul” on Feb. 15-16, 2019, will feature hits made famous by Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys and Adele.
“Eternal Tango” on March 15-16, 2019, will showcase the passion, essence and evolution of tango with dance and music with the Hector Del Curto Tango Quintet.
“Lush Life” on May 31-June 1, 2019, will pay tribute to Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.
The 2018/19 Sunday Matinee Series will take audiences on a world tour with RPO musicians. All concerts are set for 2 p.m. in Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 N. Plymouth Ave., Rochester.
“Zest of Czech” on Oct. 7 will feature Smetana, Janacek and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7, as well as “Silent Woods” with RPO cellist Lars Kirvan.
“Sectional Highlights” on Nov. 18 will showcase RPO’s three sections: brass/percussion with Susator’s “Danserye,” woodwinds with Mozart’s Serenade No. 11 and strings with Shostakovich/Barshai’s Chamber Symphony.
RPO flutes Rebecca Gilbert and Joanna Bassett will join Athayde for “Baroque Touchstones” on Dec. 9. The concert will feature Handel, Mendelssohn and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto.
“Butterman Celebrates Mozart’s Birthday” on Jan. 27, 2019, will feature the composer’s Sinfonie Concertante and Symphony 25, with solos by principal oboe Erik Behr, principal clarinet Kenneth Grant, principal bassoon Matthew McDonald and principal horn W. Peter Kurau.
“Bravo Italiano” on May 5, 2019, will feature RPO piccolo Jessica Sindell on Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto, as well as Boccherini, Cherubini and Rossini
“Christoph Denoth Plays Spanish Guitar” on June 2, 2019, will include the world premiere of Lorenzo Palomo’s Guitar Concerto with guitarist Christoph Denoth. The audience will hear Falla’s “Three-cornered Hat Suite.”
The four-concert 2018/19 OrKIDStra Series will feature free kids’ activities at 1 p.m. before the 2 p.m. shows at Hochstein Performance Hall.
“Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches” on Oct. 14 will make Theodor Geisel’s tale about the perils of bigotry come to life with Palomo’s original score and narrator.
RPO’s Herb Smith will conduct, play trumpet and lead the audience in creating its own story symphony with “Create a Symphony” on Jan. 13, 2019.
“The Thrill of the Orchestra,” Russell Peck’s piece for narrator and orchestra, will feature Hochstein student ensembles on April 28, 2019.
The series will end with “Platypus Theatre’s Presto, Mambo!” on May 19, 2019. Butterman will conduct an interactive family show that highlights the rhythms of Latin American music.
Subscription packages are available by phone at (585) 454-2100, online at and in person at RPO’s Patron Services Center, 108 East Ave., Rochester. Single tickets will be available on a later date.