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Brockport hosts Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for annual fall show

by Brianna Bush - Executive Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 09:00 pm

In a town as small as Brockport, there are times when people are looking for things to do on Friday nights. Not every person is looking to go out and some people want to find something calming to do that won’t indent their wallet. The College at Brockport offered a way for the community to enjoy a Friday night with The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) concert without breaking the bank. 

For the past 16 years, Brockport has been hosting RPO concerts in the fall semester. Assistant to the Dean of the Music Department Stuart Soloway recalled that the relationship between RPO and Brockport “pre-dates” his arrival at the college. 

“Managing the RPO concert appearances is always fun, occasionally challenging and ultimately quite rewarding,” Soloway said. “We have had a tradition of their coming to campus at the end of October or early November, as it works well with their own calendar. I am always sure to schedule their concert before laying into the rest of the season.” 

RPO was founded in 1922 by George Eastman, and has since been committed to providing “exceptional, engaging performances,” according to rpo.org. The performance on Friday, Nov. 1 was no exception, having a sold-out crowd. 

Soloway explained having such a well renowned group come to Brockport, looks good for both the Brockport college and community. 

“It reflects extremely well on the college, as well as Brockport the community, that the RPO can come to campus and usually be ensured a sell-out crowd [as it nearly was on Friday evening],” Soloway said. “We make it economical for community members to see a world class orchestra in their own backyard, and Friday’s audience was most appreciative of the orchestra’s performance, but also of the honor of having the current music director, Ward Stare, on the podium conducting them.” 

According to rpo.org, Stare was appointed to his position in 2014 as the 12th music director RPO has seen. Stare has since built a name for himself in the music world and will continue to live out his dream. 

“It’s been an interesting path,” Stare explained. “I started as an instrumentalist and learned how an orchestra works from the inside out. It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything because it has given me great insight into what it feels like to play in an orchestra.” 

The performance Stare led on Nov. 1 was no exception to his other work — a beautifully rehearsed concert that had people in attendance on their feet applauding at the end. 

The program was composed of French music, with almost every song having multiple movements in it. The night started out with “Ma Mere L’Oye,” which translates to “Mother Goose Suite.” The song featured a flute and violin duet in the beginning with the other volins plucking in the background. 

Each movement of the piece had a different tone to it; the deeper sounding instruments produced a tone of melancholy where the higher sound instruments produced a more up-beat feeling. From the audience perspective, it was obvious that each musician was completely focused on the music in front of them. Each movement made was precise and fluid, creating a clear and crisp sound, each one entangling with the other to form a strong melody. 

The work and practice that goes into the level of playing RPO achieves, takes hours of practice and dedication of both the musicians and Stare. While the musicians have to be in sync with Stare, he has to put himself into the mind of the composer. 

“Depend[ing] on the piece, but [I] always try to get inside the composer’s head to make the music come to life in [the] most exciting and most authentic way possible,” Stare said. 

The passion Stare puts forth while conducting is evident in the way that he moves on stage — giving clear and straightforward directions when to cut off or when to come into a piece. 

“In every way my life has been all about music — I can’t imagine not having music in my life.” Stare said. 

Though RPO is finished until next year, Tower Fine Arts will see more performances in its Fine Arts Series. 

“As far as the other concerts on the Fine Arts Series are concerned, I always like to include a jazz concert of some sort. This year, it was the opening concert, in September, featuring saxophonist extraordinaire Jimmie Highsmith, Jr.” Soloway explained. “The other slots I have are usually populated with some sort of smaller ensemble, and some sort of world music. This season that last slot has been turned over to a very exciting event that will be coming this spring, but I am hoping to more than make up for it next fall.” 

The performances at Tower Fine Arts are for anyone in the community who is looking for a good way to spend a night listening and watching hard-working people perform. 

“There is nothing rarified about the concerts that I present as part of the Fine Arts Series that one can’t stick a toe in the water and end up discovering something they might love, whether they are aged eight or 80,” Soloway said. 

For more information regarding RPO, visit its website, rpo.org for schedules and contact information. For dates at times for the next Fine Art Series people can contact Soloway at ssoloway@brockport.edu. 

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