Nutcracker, Snowman & The Bear, Four Seasons, Holiday Pops

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) kicks off Rochester’s holiday season with The Nutcracker, led by Principal Conductor for Education and Engagement Michael Butterman (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) and featuring Rochester City Ballet (RCB, David Palmer, artistic director) and the Bach Children’s Chorus (BCC, Karla Krogstad, director). The six-performance run also features 220 area children and opens with a special pre-Thanksgiving show on Wednesday, November 22 at 7 p.m. The magical production continues on Friday, November 24 at 2 & 7 p.m.; Saturday, November 25 at 2 & 7 p.m.; and Sunday, November 26 at 2 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

“This is truly Rochester’s Nutcracker – performed by Rochester’s own world-class orchestra with its only full-time, professional ballet company,” says Butterman, who has happily conducted Tchaikovsky’s ballet score well over a hundred times. “I think it’s exciting to know that every year, many folks have their first RPO experience with this wonderful music.”  

The Nutcracker is sponsored in part by Caldwell Manufacturing. Kids under 17 save 50% on tickets.* In addition, the RPO will be collecting new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots at all performances.

Next up is another family favorite, an OrKIDStra Holiday Special: The Snowman and The Bear on Sunday, December 10 at 2 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Two animated winter classics – both based on picture books created by Raymond Briggs – will play on the big screen with a live soundtrack performed by the RPO and guest conductor Grant Cooper.  A young boy is delighted to find a special friend come to life in The Snowman, and a kind polar bear comes to live with a young girl in The Bear. Families will also enjoy a kid-friendly, holiday singalong during the performance. Tickets start at $15.

Great in any season but perfect for the holidays: Concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett & Clayla Ward Chair) performs Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 16 at 8 p.m. in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Those virtuoso vignettes that conjure up the birds of spring, summer storms, an autumn country dance, and winter’s icy chill will be led by guest conductor Michael Christie, who conducted the Orchestra’s most recent Carnegie Hall performance. Also featured will be music from Corelli’s “Christmas” Concerto and Handel’s Messiah.  The program of musical delights ends with Mozart’s ingenious final symphony, Symphony No. 1, “Jupiter.” Join Christie and Athayde for a lively discussion one hour prior to the concert, hosted by WXXI’s Julia Figueras. The concert is made possible in part by The Mozart Performance Fund: Sarah D. Atkinson, M.D. and Steven Hess.

Last but not least is the 24th annual Gala Holiday Pops, led by its creator, Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, for four performances in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre:  Thursday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, December 22 at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, December 23 at 2 & 8 p.m.  Featuring the Festival High School Chorale (Amy Story and Harold McAulliffe, co-directors), the festivities this year will take a new spin on a Rochester tradition: the incomparable Denzal Sinclaire will perform holiday classics by vocal legends and more. Concert sponsor: High Falls Advisors. The RPO will be collecting non-perishable food items for Foodlink at all performances.

Tickets* for all of the above (unless noted) start at $24 and are available online at, by phone at (585) 454-2100, or in person at the RPO’s Patron Services Center (108 East Ave., Rochester) and at all Wegmans That’s T.H.E. Ticket! locations.

The RPO’s 2017/18 Season is presented by Rochester Regional Health and the Dawn and Jacques Lipson Cancer Institute. The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by M&T Bank; the RPO Pops Series is sponsored by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust and Wegmans. RPO performances are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by Monroe County; the City of Rochester; the Alfred Davis and Brunhilde Knapp Artists Performance Fund; the Mozart Performance Fund: Sarah D. Atkinson, M.D. and Steven Hess; and the Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund.

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has been committed to enriching and inspiring our community through the art of music since its founding in 1922. The RPO presents approximately 150 concerts and broadcasts a year, serving up to 170,000 people through ticketed events, education and community engagement activities, and concerts in schools and community centers throughout the region. 12th Music Director Ward Stare joins the ranks of former notable RPO music directors, including Eugene Goossens, José Iturbi, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman and Conductor Laureate Christopher Seaman. Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik has earned a national reputation for excellence in pops programming during his 23-year tenure with the RPO. With Michael Butterman as Principal Conductor for Education and Community Engagement (The Louise and Henry Epstein Family Chair) – the first endowed position of its kind in the country – the RPO reaches more than 16,000 children through its specific programs for school-aged children.

Media please note: High-resolution images of 2017/18 concerts are available at and upon request, and interviews and photo/footage opportunities can be arranged.