Classical 91.5

Ward Stare

Kondonassis: Mark Bettrell/Higdon: jenniferhigdon.com

They're back! Your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is about to record the Jennifer Higdon harp concerto with soloist Yolanda Kondonassis that they all premiered in May. It's part of an all-American show that includes works by Patrick Harlin, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein.

Classical 91.5

RPO 2017-2018 Season on WXXI 

All broadcasts begin at 8:00 p.m. ET.

April 9 and July 16     R. Strauss:  Don Juan  Grieg:  Piano Concerto in a  Prokofiev:  Excerpts from Cinderella (Inon Barnatan, piano; Ward Stare, conductor)

The great pianist Yefim Bronfman is joining forces with Ward Stare and your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra to open the new season with two fan favorites and a concerto that Mr. Bronfman calls "a nightmare;" the Roman Carnival Overture by Berlioz, Dvorak's New World Symphony, and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 all set the stage for concerts to come.  

A big ending is as important as a strong beginning, right? With that in mind, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Ward Stare chose Bizet's opera Carmen to close out the 2017-18 season. Reviled at the premiere, it became one of opera's greatest hits within three years after being shredded by Paris critics.

Ward Stare, mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy (Carmen), and tenor Dinyar Vania (Don Jose) sat down with Julia Figueras to discuss this now-iconic opera. 

Candace diCarlo

American orchestras have come under fire recently for not playing enough music by women composers.  But this week the Rochester Philharmonic presented an important voice. On Thursday night, Ward Stare conducted the world premiere of a new harp concerto by American composer Jennifer Higdon.

Here's how it came to be. 

Fifteen years ago, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis was backstage getting ready to play a concerto with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra.  She was trying to focus when she heard “Blue Cathedral” by Jennifer Higdon.

Kondonassis: Mark Bettrell/Higdon: jenniferhigdon.com

Jennifer Higdon believes in magic. This week, Ward Stare, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, and your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra weave a spell with the world premiere of Higdon's Harp Concerto. All parties involved talked to Julia Figueras about the creation of this work, with a little Brahms and Britten in the mix, too...and it was magic.

Allen Shawn: MorningStar Music; Ward Stare: Rochester Philharmonic

This week, your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra plays two classic symphonies--Haydn's Symphony No. 22, the Philosopher and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5--and a world premiere of Allen Shawn's Oboe Concerto with RPO Principle Oboe Erik Behr. What a treat to have the composer in town so he, RPO Music Director Ward Stare, and Mr. Behr could all talk to Julia Figueras about the unveiling of this new work. Also in the mix: Maestro Stare's unabashed love of Haydn and what Erik Behr really thinks about the Tchaikovsky Symphony. Oh...and there might be a controversial statement uttered, too.

Emily Birsan: Kristin Hoebermann Photography

Soprano Emily Birsan makes a triple debut this week with your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra: not only is it her first appearance with the RPO, it's also the first time she'll sing Berg's "Seven Early Songs" with an orchestra, and her first outing with Mahler's Symphony No. 4. She and RPO Music Director Ward Stare talked with WXXI Music Director Julia Figueras about these two works, and the heavenly spell they cast.

The RPO's 96th season will include music from the classic repertoire, as well as programming aimed at the family. We sit down with music director Ward Stare and Curt Long, the new CEO.

Our conversation includes the criticism that some orchestras have received for not featuring enough music by women and people of color -- something the RPO says it is addressing this season. Our guests:

Ward Stare: Devon Cass/Misha Dichter: CJ Mulligan

Your Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off its Leonard Bernstein Centennial celebrations this week with a work by Bernstein--Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety--and a piece Bernstein championed--Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9. Pianist Misha Dichter, who solos in Bernstein's work, joined RPO Music director Ward Stare to chat with WXXI-FM's Music Director Julia Figueras about the Legacy of Lenny, and the many gifts he gave us.

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