The opening of the concert season is a cause for celebration any time, but this year is particularly noteworthy.
Resident musicians --- in the Rochester Philharmonic and smaller classical groups, from the Eastman School's outstanding faculty, and in churches and other venues --- will continue to provide exceptional performances. And the 2005-2006 season includes a fair number of big-name visitors.
Soprano Jessye Norman returns to Rochester October 28 to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Action for a Better Community, where Norman's brother James is president.
Van Cliburn winner Jon Nakamatsu performs with the Rochester Philharmonic (October 6 and 8) and Chamber Music Rochester (October 9); Emanuel Ax opens the Eastman School's new "Grand Pianists" series on December 1; tenor Douglas Ahlstedt joins the Rochester Chamber Orchestra for a December 4 concert --- and the RPO's December 21 holiday concert features Rochester native Renée Fleming.
In addition to the "Grand Pianists" series, there are other newcomers. The Eastman School celebrates its restored Italian baroque organ, housed at the Memorial Art Gallery, with a festival of concerts, a symposium, and masterclasses October 6-16. And Mercury Opera Rochester --- the merged Rochester Opera Factory, Opera Rochester, and Opera Theatre Guild --- debuts with a three-performance season.
Among the more unusual programs: Chamber Music Rochester's collaboration with the Memorial Art Gallery combining art from the Jewish Museum and music by Jewish composers (November 13), and (at the Eastman School January 24) Huun-Huur-Tu, whose program of Mongolian throat-singing sold out here 10 years ago.
See our classical music calendar, page 24, for detailed information on these and other concerts.