For many decades, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra would launch its new season in its home in Kleinhans Music Hall with a pair of concerts, on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, almost invariably featuring a “big name” guest soloist, playing a well known, audience favorite piece. Beginning in 2003 the orchestra changed its scheduling practices, and started programming the opening concert as a stand-alone, Saturday evening event, still featuring a well known soloist playing an equally well known work.
The one exception occurred in 2003, the first year of the new scheduling setup, when three well known female violinists from very different performing traditions—classical, jazz, and fiddle—performed, besides some of the usual violin repertoire, Christopher Brubeck’s Interplay for 3 Violins and Orchestra, a new work commissioned for them the previous year by the Boston Pops. Since 2004, the BPO has continued to engage classical star soloists to perform audience favorites on opening night, in what has become the orchestra’s best attended concert each season.
This year’s BPO opening night breaks the pattern in a couple of ways. For starters, the opening night is now on a Wednesday, September 18 at 8pm, a first. The concert, under the baton of BPO music director JoAnn Falletta, will feature a performance by superstar Yo-Yo Ma, one of the best known performers in the classical music world, who last appeared with the BPO on opening night in 2005, playing Elgar’s Cello Concerto. What is different this time around is that Yo-Yo Ma will be performing Azul, a new concerto for cello and orchestra written for him in 2006 by the Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, and it will be the first performance ever of one of the contemporary composer’s works on a BPO program. Interestingly, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate its season opening concert at its home in Avery Fisher Hall, also on a Wednesday, exactly one week later, and it will also feature Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, playing the very same Golijov concerto. A bit of a coup, anyway you look at it, when the BPO scoops the New York Philharmonic. Read More.