The RPO at Brockport: “The Russians Are Coming!”

Spencer Linsner—On October 25, I went to see the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) perform at the Tower Fine Arts Center Mainstage. If you’re not already familiar with who they are, the RPO is a world-class orchestra based right here in Rochester, NY. Founded by George Eastman in 1922, the Orchestra is still going strong after 90 years. An aspect that the Orchestra prides itself on is its dedication to musical education and community outreach, and it shows. This is the second time that the RPO has performed here this semester, and they’ve performed at area high schools as well. One of these was my own Midlakes High School, where I, as a member of the school’s chorus, was able to sing with them and conductor Paul Shewan, who conducting for this performance as well.

So, as a fan of music of all kinds as well as someone who performed with the RPO before but had never seen them, I was pretty excited to grab a second-row seat. Granted, I was one of the few college students there, but that didn’t phase me.  I was glad to be able to exercise my student benefits and get a seat for only $8.50 (to put that in perspective, the RPO’s Holiday Pops Concert tickets at the Eastman Theatre usually go for $22 for the nosebleeds, $66 for seats similar to mine).

As the name of the concert (and this post) implies, the RPO chose a selection of pieces that were written by Russian composers. The first piece they played, Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila, was a fitting choice–the composer, Mikhail Glinka, is considered the father of Russian Classical music. Before him, the only music that really existed was that of the Russian Orthodox Church and some folk music.

The next piece was my favorite: Waltz, the first movement from Aram Khachaturian‘s Masquerade Suite. With the orchestra right there, the sound was so powerful that it made you feel like you’re actually at a masquerade ball. They also played Romance and Galop, respectively the 4th and 5th movements of that same suite.

The final three pieces were Alexander Borodin‘s Polovtzian Dances from the opera Prince Igor, the Finale from Pyotr Tchaikovsky‘s Symphony No. 2, and Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, of which I have included the “Infernal Dance” portion. Fun fact: Tchaikovsky, who is arguably the most well known Russian composer, is also the man who wrote the music for the Nutcracker Suite.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the RPO perform, and I encourage anyone who loves music to take the opportunity to see them, either the next they arrive on campus, at Eastman Theatre in Rochester, or anywhere the opportunity arises.

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