RPO’s Top Moments of 2020

2020 will forever be an unforgettable year. Though the year has been unlike any other in recent memory, we thought to share a few program highlights from this past year. 

That Award-Winning Feeling: The world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Harp Concerto, featuring harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, won a GRAMMY Award® this year for Best Classical Contemporary Composition! American Rapture, out now on Azica Records, was recorded live with Music Director Ward Stare and the RPO in Kodak Hall in September of 2018. Maestro Stare graced the red carpet on January 26th and thanked the RPO community for the outpouring of support following the win. 

Fifty Years of Fagan: On January 24 & 25, Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik and your RPO celebrated Garth Fagan Dance’s 50th anniversary with an exciting, provocative, and nourishing collaboration. Two of Rochester’s cultural institutions joined forces to inspire and excite audiences with movement and music from our organizations’ rich histories. Selections included Fagan’s “Oatka Trail” set to Dvorak; “Dance Collage for Romie” with music by Jelly Roll Morton; and “Mudan 175/39” with musical selections by Lei Liang.

 A Century of Women’s Suffrage: We celebrated two weeks commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the legacy of Rochester’s own, Susan B. Anthony. In Women’s Suffrage: Past + Present (January 30th & February 1st), Music Director Ward Stare conducted the world premiere of All on Fire, a new work by Gemma Peacocke. Plus, playwright Mark Mobley premiered a new theatrical work setting the stories of five strong Rochester women to music. A week later, Maestro Stare conducted Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All (February 6 & 8). The libretto by Gertrude Stein examines the life and legacy of Susan B. Anthony in fanciful style, bringing together characters, fictional and non-fictional, from different periods of American history. We also received a special guest at Kodak Hall!

From the Hall to the Classroom: As our community began to feel the impact of COVID-19 in March, we worked to bring music to our art-loving community. We performed a live-stream version of the Intermediate Concerts – Get Out the Vote! – on March 13th,  with our very own Herb Smith conducting the program. More than 5,000 students across 250+ classrooms in our region participated in the streamed concert! 

Sending Music Across the Radiowaves: We partnered with WXXI 91.5 FM to play concerts from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 Seasons. Heard on Mondays at 8 PM, the performances were accompanied by a live discussion on Facebook with hosts Stephen Laifer, horn, and Erik Behr, oboe (Principal, The Dr. Jacques M. Lipson Chair, funded in perpetuity).   

Music from the Comfort of your Couch! The Living Room Series featured musicians of the RPO performing music from classical & contemporary composers! Hundreds of viewers tuned in to each live performance, and many more watched in the following weeks – in total, Living Room Series performances racked up over 10,000 views!

We followed up the series with our RPO @ Home digital concerts! Previous concerts have included a program featuring Aaron Copland and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music to a celebration of composers that have defined the American musical landscape. We connected the community through music during this unprecedented time. Plus, our concerts were viewed in all 50 states plus three countries! 

New streaming concerts beginning January 16th! Click here for a listing of concerts.

We are sincerely thankful for our Season sponsors M&T Bank and Rochester Regional Health and our Pops Series sponsors Wegmans and Canandaigua National Bank. Many thanks to our RPO @ Home series sponsors Sales Sense Payments, Pace Family Fund, Eggers Family Charitable Foundation, and Christine M. Colucci. 

Since our founding in 1922, your RPO has provided the art of music during times of adversity and celebrations. And this year was no different. From our streamed concerts, a performance of Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” at a Black Lives Matter rally to providing music as part of art therapy for veterans, your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra couldn’t continue our mission without your love and generosity. 

We must also give thanks to our music lovers of Rochester and beyond! Despite this unprecedented year in recent memory, your support has allowed us to continue serving the community. 

From the RPO Family, thank you. We look toward the new year with hope and look forward to welcoming you all back to Kodak Hall soon. 

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