Irreras, GSO expand repertoires for new chamber concert series

Four concerts will bring world of talent to Genesee County

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 2:30 am | Updated: 12:18 am, Thu Sep 20, 2012.

By Ben Beagle

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is extending its musical brand this season with a new chamber music series organized by Batavia brothers Joseph and John Irrera.

The four-concert Irrera Brothers Chamber Music Series will debut with a gala event in November and continue into April, with performances on months in which the Genesee Symphony Orchestra does not have a concert scheduled.

The new series expands the brothers’ roles in the GSO. John Irrera, an acclaimed violinist, was recently introduced as the GSO’s new concertmaster. Joseph Irrera, himself an acclaimed pianist, performed with the GSO in 2010.

“By starting this series we hope to continue the Genesee Symphony’s goal of enhancing the artistic and cultural scene in Genesee County,” Joseph and John Irrera said in an email.

The series, said Kenneth R. Pike, president of the GSO’s board of directors, “brings a different and unique musical experience to the local stages of our community, and our neighboring communities.”

“Joseph and John Irrera are dedicated to bringing together the best and brightest musicians to ensure an unrivaled musical experience,” Pike said.

The series begins Nov. 4 with a 4 p.m. concert in Stuart Steiner Theatre in the Genesee Center for the Arts at Genesee Community College. The Irrera brothers will be the featured performers for the debut. Future concerts may feature internationally known performers.

Additional concerts are scheduled for Jan. 27, March 17 and May 19. Locations and ticket prices have not yet been announced.

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra has scheduled four concerts this season: Oct. 21 at Pavilion Central School, Dec. 2 and Feb. 24, 2013, at locations to be announced; and April 14 at Attica Central School.

The chamber series is the first time the GSO has ventured in to such a project.

“The GSO started this series for its obvious benefits in connecting with the locally famous Irrera Brothers, their music and their potential to attract more and greater musicians to play with the GSO,” Pike said.

It’s also the first time the Irreras have programmed a concert series.

“John and I are very excited to begin this chamber music series in collaboration with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra,” Joseph Irrera said. “While it requires endless hours of organizing, planning and meetings with the GSO board of directors, we are pleased to see it begin to take shape and cannot wait for the kick-off concert.”

The series is set for the 2012-13 Concert Season and could be extended if it proves successful.

“We are planning the series for many years to come,” Pike said.

The Irreras, who now live in Greece, have been linked musically for years. They both graduated from Batavia High School — older brother Joseph in 2000, and John in 2003 — and have gone on to carve out parallel careers in music.

Both graduated from Eastman School of Music, have master’s degrees in their chosen fields of performance, and are pursuing doctoral degrees. They both teach in the Eastman School’s collegiate and community divisions.

Joseph, 30, has performed in concerts in the U.S. and abroad, including France, Germany and Italy and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He made his concert debut at age 18, performing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

John, 27, has won numerous competitions and has been a featured soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Penfield Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

The two debuted at Carnegie hall in 2009, performing in Weill Recital Hall as winner of an international music competition that they had each entered separately and unbeknownst to each other. In March they returned to Carnegie Hall after winning the same competition, this time as a duo.

GSO Conductor Raffaele Ponti began talking with the Irreras about a year ago about developing a music series.

“One that would not be just for Genesee Symphony players, but one that would bring people into the community,” Ponti said.

“We get to put a little brand on it, signifying quality,” Ponti said.

The Irreras will be able to tap connections they’ve made through the Eastman School of Music and their own international performance schedules to attract artists to the series.

“Joseph is a real entrepreneur,” Ponti said. “Joseph is very good with the music business, mature beyond his years. And John is learning a lot from that, too.”

The Irreras said they are still in the process of inviting artists to appear in the series. They said they plan to feature musicians from neighboring areas, including Buffalo and Rochester, and “are also planning to bring in artists from across the globe of international stature.”

“Both the Irrera Brothers and the Genesee Symphony understand how much the residents of Genesee County enjoy the arts and classical music,” the Irreras said, “and we hope to bring them world-class artistry right here in their backyard,”


On the radio

Joseph and John Irrera are scheduled to appear Friday “Backstage Pass” on WXXI-FM (91.5). The program, scheduled for 1 p.m., will include and interview and performance. It may also be heard online at