The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (= RPO) is an American orchestra based in the city of Rochester, Monroe County, New York. Its primary concert venue is the Eastman Theatre at the Eastman School of Music.
The RPO was founded in 1922 by industrialist and music-lover George Eastman of Eastman Kodak camera and film fame. Since its founding, the RPO has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music. For more than 80 years, the RPO has been known for its high standard of artistic excellence, unique tradition of musical versatility and deep commitment to education and community engagement.
Current Music Director Christopher Seaman continues the traditions of such notable former Music Directors as Eugène Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf and David Zinman. The RPO has also performed under the batons of such renowned guest conductors as Fritz Reiner, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Thomas Beecham and Leopold Stokowski. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his tenure with the RPO.
The Orchestra is also at the vanguard of music education, naming Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Outreach (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) - the first position of its kind in the country. In addition to performing concerts for students of all ages, RPO musicians visit every elementary school in the Rochester City School District through the Primary Ensembles Program.
In 2002, the RPO received the New York State Governor’s Arts Award for excellence and community service. In 2005 and 2006, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Symphony Orchestra League honored the RPO with an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, recognizing the Orchestra’s commitment to music written in the last 25 years.
The RPO tours extensively and has made several recordings. It also sponsors the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, which is composed of Rochester-area student musicians in the eighth through twelfth grades. From 1939 though 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. The orchestra and broadcasts on WXXI 91.5 FM.
Today, the RPO presents more than 140 concerts per year, serving approximately 350,000 people through ticketed events, education and outreach activities, concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. Since 1990, the RPO has annually spent a summer residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, in Vail, Colorado, but in July 2008 the festival announced that the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will be replacing them.
As one of the great American orchestras, the RPO aspires to be an institution driven by a culture of confidence, adventure, excellence and success; the premier cultural organization in the region and the hub of cultural life year-round; and recognized nationally for artistic and organizational excellence, creativity and innovation.