The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra certainly knows how to make a good first impression. The ensemble kicked off the Wegmans-sponsored WPOP Series on Oct. 21, in the Eastman Theatre, with a concert titled “A 100th Birthday Salute to Tommy Dorsey.”

The entire show was dedicated to jazz in honor of Tommy Dorsey, a jazz trombonist from the “big band era.” Dorsey played with various orchestras and even formed his own band with fellow jazz players and singers, including Frank Sinatra.

Special guest Steve Lippia joined the orchestra Friday and Saturday night at the Eastman Theatre, and helped bring some classic Sinatra tunes to life.

The program was performed for a second time on Saturday, and some audience members were so impressed that they returned for another sensory pleasure.

The performance consisted of 14 pieces and an encore. The first and second halves of the concert were set up similarly. Both halves began with a purely orchestral song, a trombone feature – in which the orchestra accompanied Mark Kellogg, the primary trombonist and an associate professor at Eastman – and some vocal pieces.

Nine of the 14 pieces, as well as the encore, featured Lippia, who did a more than commendable job. All 10 vocal songs were Sinatra pieces, and Lippia not only sang with such great power that his voice could have been mistaken for Sinatra’s, but also had a mesmerizing stage presence. His body language only added to the experience.

Conductor Jeff Tyzik was also incredibly impressive. He was especially enthusiastic about the concert. In fact, he either arranged or wrote most of the pieces that were performed. He also played cornet in the opening of the second half with “Royal Garden Blues,” featuring a trombone and a clarinet.

The two pieces that primarily focused on trombonist Kellogg were “A Dorsey Tribute” and “Concerto for Trombone.” They both had a completely different feel, but each was equally pleasing.

The first one was much livelier, but at the same time had more variance throughout, whereas the second piece was slower and had a beautiful lullaby-like feel to it.

“Caravan,” which was played just before intermission, also had a special feature. Not only did it highlight Dave Mancini on drums, but also it was written specifically for that purpose. He played an impressive solo and the entire piece was upbeat and fun for the whole group.

Everything about this performance was enjoyable, from the beautiful venue, which had remarkable acoustics, to the extremely talented performers and charming conductor. There was not a single moment of the night that was lacking enthusiasm.

The performers and audience alike were excited to be there. It was also notable that the majority of the audience consisted of elderly citizens. The man in front of me commented that, “everyone here is too old, except for her,” referring to me.

He wasn’t the only one who noticed. The conductor also made a joke about the age of the audience. Lippia encouraged the audience members to continue to support as many concerts as possible in an effort to “elevate the civilization.”

So now I’ll pass that on, encouraging anyone reading this to take advantage of the amazing musical opportunities students have at Eastman.DeRose can be reached at lderose@campustimes.org



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