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Of particular note 

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.

In This Guide...

    Fall Guide 2005

    A big autumn embrace Jewel-bright leaves trapped between sheets of wax paper.

    Sounds good to me

    Here are music writer Frank De Blase's concert picks for the fall.
    Leon Redbone September 21

    What's so great about Mozart?

    Why, over two centuries after Mozart lived, is he still such a fixture in our cultural consciousness? Why, as we near the 250th anniversary of his birth, is a worldwide celebration mounting, with orchestras clamoring to produce concerts of his music, tourists tracing his footsteps in Austria, and Steinway and Sons giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Salzburg, the city of his birth?

    The best of all grapes

    Late this summer there were at least two terrific "Winemaker" dinners at Ravines Wine Cellars overlooking Keuka Lake --- Chasing Pinot: In Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir and Meritage: The Art of Blending. "Meritage"?

    How'd you get so lucky?

    When people stumble upon my not-so-secret identity as a movie critic, they often start chucking questions at me. Most believe that getting paid to give your unsolicited and subjective opinion sounds like a dream, and I do spend a great deal of time pinching myself. But when the clock strikes midnight and I'm trying to get enthusiastic about a film I had zero interest in seeing, it can seem a little nightmarish.

    Let them entertain you

    It's time for the local theatrics to gear up and people to start dancing. You will have your pick of performances to attend, from community theater shows in school gymnatoriums to visiting blockbusters --- along with a matching range in ticket price --- but here's what we're excited about.

    Turn on the reading light

    Well, the Rochester Arts and Lectures series is already sold out. If you don't have tickets, you may be able to get standing-room-only tickets to hear Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)and Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club) --- both worth it.

    Satisfy your inner nerd

    The autumnal re-opening of school doors calls us back inside to the world of books. Summer paperbacks with sand trapped between the pages get shelved.

    Keep it on ice

    Not too many things have lasted for 50 years in Monroe County, but the Rochester Americans have. Since the Amerks were founded a half-century ago, the demographics of its hometown have completely changed, Kodak has withered away, and countless other American Hockey League teams have come and gone.

    They'll fight their hearts out

    There's a certain smell to freshly mowed grass on a high school football field, a mixture of chlorophyll and dew and mud that wafts into a player's nose and triggers a release of adrenaline and testosterone that carries him through the picturesque violence that will consume his mind and body and soul for a quartet of 12-minute quarters. Books and movies like Friday Night Lights can only go so far in relaying the passion and release that is a high school football game.

    It's the season for eating well

    "It is a time when every cook wishes time could stand still and the bounty of the fall last forever." So says Max chef-owner Tony Gullace, and you'll get no argument from the dozens of food-loving friends who jumped to say what they like best about food in the fall.

    The learning never stops

    School is great, but why stop there? There are plenty of museums offering kid-friendly exhibits and events to keep the structured (but fun!)

Speaking of Fall Guide 2005, classical

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