The Curtis Symphony Orchestra Opens its Season at the Kimmel Center with Mark Russell Smith (’87) on October 26; Soloists from the Curtis Opera Theatre perform selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Additional performance in Allentown, Pa. on October 24

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The Curtis Symphony Orchestra
Opens its Season at the Kimmel Center
with Mark Russell Smith (’87) on October 26

Soloists from the Curtis Opera Theatre perform selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Additional performance in Allentown, Pa. on October 24

PHILADELPHIA, PA—October 21, 2014—Praised for its “otherworldly ensemble and professional level of sophistication” (New York Times), the Curtis Symphony Orchestra opens its season at the Kimmel Center on Sunday, October 26 at 3 p.m. with alumnus Mark Russell Smith.

The concert in Verizon Hall opens with Shostakovich’s exuberant Festive Overture, led by conducting fellow Edward Poll. Mark Russell Smith conducts selections from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with mezzo-soprano Shir Rozzen and baritone Jamez McCorkle of the Curtis Opera Theatre, and closes with Beethoven’s iconic Third Symphony, a work which heralded the dawn of the Romantic era.

Join the Curtis Symphony Orchestra for all three 2014–15 Kimmel Center performances with a subscription, priced $15 to $110 and available from the Curtis Patron Services Office at (215) 893-7902 or Single tickets are $5 to $50 and are available at the Kimmel Center Box Office and from Ticket Philadelphia at (215) 893-1999 or This concert is underwritten by a grant from the Markow-Totevy Foundation and is part of the 2014–15 series of Jack Wolgin Orchestral Concerts.

An additional performance presented by the Allentown Symphony Association takes place on Friday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown, Pa. Tickets and more information are available at (610) 432-6715 or

Mark Russell Smith, a 1987 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, is artistic director of orchestral studies at the University of Minnesota, music director of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, and artistic director of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies.

Mr. Smith has conducted the Saint Louis and Houston symphonies, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 2007 and 2012 he returned to his alma mater to lead the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Verizon Hall, and he led Curtis On Tour in China and Korea in 2011. Other recent and upcoming appearances include the Colorado, Eugene, Hartford, Jacksonville, Phoenix, and Santa Barbara symphonies; the Tulsa Philharmonic; Orchestra London (Ontario); the Eastern Music Festival; and the European Center for Opera and Vocal Art in Ghent, Belgium. Mr. Smith collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma on Bridge of Souls, a concert featuring world premieres by Asian and American composers.

A firm believer in the use of technical innovation, he annually conducts the final round of the Minnesota International Piano e-Competition, streamed live online. Mr. Smith was previously music director of the Richmond, Cheyenne, and Springfield symphony orchestras. He studied cello at the Juilliard School with Claus Adam and conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music with Max Rudolf and Otto- Werner Mueller.

Edward Poll, from Bryn Mawr, Pa., entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2014. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full tuition scholarships, and Mr. Poll is the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow.

Mr. Poll was assistant conductor at the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival, and recently made his debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic at the invitation of JoAnn Falletta. He has conducted workshops of new compositions for Opera Philadelphia and Washington National Opera.

Also a composer, Mr. Poll is the winner of an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and two Singing City prizes, His first opera, based on Lorca’s play, Yerma, was premiered in New York at the NOMADS Festival. His second opera, in process, is set to religious texts by Auden and Yeats. His works have been performed by NonSequitur and pianist Beth Levin, among others. He was a summer fellow at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris from 2006 to 2008, and studied composition at the Freie Universität in Berlin in 2010 and 2011.

Mr. Poll received a bachelor’s degree in composition from Columbia University, where he studied with Fabien Lévy and Fred Lerdahl. He holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Mannes College, where he studied with David Hayes and Joseph Colaneri.

Mezzo-soprano Shir Rozzen, from Karmey-Yosef, Israel, entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2008 and studies with Marlena Kleinman Malas. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full-tuition scholarships, and Ms. Rozzen is the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation Fellow.

For the Curtis Opera Theatre she has appeared in Iolanta (Martha), Dialogues of the Carmelites (Mme. de Croissy), The Magic Flute (Third Lady), Dido and Aeneas (title role), Faust (Marthe), The Cunning Little Vixen (Farmer’s Wife), and Il barbiere di Siviglia (Berta). In 2007 she sang Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Augusta in Douglas Moore’s Ballad of Baby Doe for the Washington National Opera’s Institute for Young Singers. She has also sung for the Embassy of Israel, including an Israeli Memorial Day ceremony, Israel Independence Day celebration, and the Israeli anthem at a friendship game between the NBA and Israel.

Ms. Rozzen attended the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division, Mannes Preparatory Division, and Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts. She has previously studied with Lorraine Nubar, Robbin Vaisel Capsuto, and Margalit Harazi.

Baritone Jamez McCorkle, from New Orleans, entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2012 and studies with Ruth Falcon, adjunct faculty. All students at Curtis receive merit-based full-tuition scholarships, and Mr. McCorkle is the Florence Kirk Keppel Fellow.

Mr. McCorkle has won awards in several competitions, including the 2013 George London Competition (George London Award), the 2012 National Opera Association Vocal Competition (second place), the 2011 Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship Competition (finalist), the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Gulf Coast Region (second place), and the 2010 S. Livingston Mather Scholarship Competition (first place).

Mr. McCorkle has performed in Gianni Schicchi (Betto) at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Israel, Les Mamelles de Tirésias (Directeur) at Loyola University, and Il barbiere di Siviglia (Fiorello) at the Music Academy of the West. His credits for the Curtis Opera Theatre include Dialogues of the Carmelites (Chaplain and Marquis de la Force); L’elisir d’amore (Belcore); and The Magic Flute (Sprecher).

Prior to attending Curtis, Mr. McCorkle attended Mannes College The New School for Music and Loyola University New Orleans. He has also attended several summer programs including I Sing Beijing, Houston Grand Opera Young Artists’ Vocal Academy, the Music Academy of the West, and the International Vocal Arts Institute. He has studied with Phyllis Treigle, Kristen Marchiafava, and Philip Frohnmayer.

The Curtis Symphony Orchestra has been called “an orchestra that any city would be lucky to have as its professional ensemble” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Recent visiting conductors include Charles Dutoit, Simon Rattle, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Curtis’s mentor conductor for the Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellowship Program. This professional training has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in America’s leading orchestras, as well as esteemed orchestral, opera, and chamber ensembles around the world.

One of the world’s finest and most selective conservatories, the Curtis Institute of Music offers a tuition-free, performance-inspired learning culture to 175 students from all corners of the world. Nurtured by a celebrated faculty, its extraordinary young musicians graduate to join 4,000 alumni who have long made music history. From Leonard Bernstein to Alan Gilbert, Samuel Barber to Jennifer Higdon, Anna Moffo to Eric Owens, Richard Goode to Jonathan Biss, Curtis alumni personify the school’s commitment to excellence—onstage and in their communities—inventing careers with impact. Recent graduates forging 21st-century careers include Stanford Thompson, CEO of Play On, Philly!; the musicians of genre-crossing trio Time for Three—Zach De Pue, Nick Kendall, and Ranaan Meyer; and Yvonne Lam, violinist in groundbreaking contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird.

A busy schedule of performances, including more than 200 a year in Philadelphia and around the world, is at the heart of Curtis’s distinctive “learn by doing” approach. Dedicated to a tradition of excellence and innovation since its founding in 1924, Curtis is looking toward its centenary in a flexible and forward-thinking way, evolving strategically to serve its time-honored mission.

Curtis Symphony Orchestra
The Jack Wolgin Orchestral Concerts
Sunday, October 26 at 3 p.m.
Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia

Mark Russell Smith, conductor (’87)
Edward Poll, conductor
Shir Rozzen, mezzo-soprano
Jamez McCorkle, baritone

SHOSTAKOVICH Festive Overture, Op. 96
MAHLER Selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 (“Eroica”)

Subscriptions for three Curtis Symphony Orchestra concerts: $15, $30, $55, $82, $110; available from the Curtis Patron Services Office at (215) 893-7902 or

Single tickets: $5, $10, $25, $35, $50; available at the Kimmel Center Box Office and from Ticket Philadelphia at (215) 893-1999 or

This concert is underwritten by a grant from the Markow-Totevy Foundation.

Additional performance: 
Friday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Presented by the Allentown Symphony Association, Inc. 
Miller Symphony Hall, 23 North 6th Street, Allentown, Pa.
Tickets: $25, available from the Allentown Symphony Box Office at (610) 432-6715 or

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