The RPO Gala Holiday Pops concert celebrates 30 years 

click to enlarge The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik performs with the Festival High School Chorale. - PHOTO BY ERICH CAMPING
  • PHOTO BY ERICH CAMPING
  • The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik performs with the Festival High School Chorale.
From the beginning of his tenure as principal pops conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994, Jeff Tyzik has presented the Gala Holiday Pops concert. The program, which runs December 15 through 17, is now in its 30th year.

The tenure doesn’t make it any less special for Tyzik.

“What's great about this concert is people come into this room, and we play beautiful music,” he said.

This year, concert attendees can look forward to everything from Baroque music to a selection from Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

Perennial favorites include composer Leroy Anderson’s hummable “Sleigh Ride” and the annual concert’s customary closing number, a gospel version of Handel’s iconic “Hallelujah” Chorus. As always, the RPO will be joined the Festival High School Chorale, featuring 150 singers from high schools across seven area counties.

“We show the value of our young children who are touched by music and who want to give joy through their singing," Tyzik said.

Beyond traditional Christmas fare, the orchestra will also play Tyzik’s arrangement of “Chanukah Suite,” which has been a part of the RPO’s holiday repertoire for more than 20 years.

click to enlarge Jeff Tyzik. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Jeff Tyzik.
Tyzik said the numerous opportunities he’s had as a composer and arranger while working with the RPO has challenged him to step up his game.

“It's such an honor and an incredible thing for somebody who writes, composes, arranges, and orchestrates to basically have their own orchestra that will play anything,” he explained. “The orchestra has always been very supportive of me in terms of writing, and I know that they love to play new music.”

Tyzik emphasized the Gala Holiday Pops as a kind of emotional reset.

“There's a lot of peace, joy and love in that room for two hours,” he said. “And I think it's a respite, it's a place for people to just take a deep breath, sit back, enjoy.”

The RPO and the Festival High School Chorale perform the Gala Holiday Pops concert at Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall on Friday, December 15 at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 16 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, December 17 at 2 p.m. $18-$123. rpo.org.

Daniel J. Kushner is an arts writer at CITY. He can be reached at [email protected].
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