Author: Keith Petrillo

‘Rite of Spring’ finally arrives at UB, Steve Sucato, Buffalo News

Postponed by Buffalo’s November storm of 2014, “The Rite of Spring” will finally take the stage at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts’ Mainstage Theatre on April 21.

A collaboration between the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Richmond Ballet, the concert was initially organized as a celebration for the 20th anniversary of the Center for the Arts. The performance will be the Richmond Ballet’s Western New York premiere.

The troupe, along with the BPO under the baton of music director JoAnn Falletta, will perform three ballets from its repertory including Salvatore Aiello’s critically acclaimed 1993 interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du printemps” (The Rite of Spring).

Falletta, who has also been the music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra the past 25 years, has worked with the Richmond ballet previously, including conducting performances of Aiello’s “The Rite of Spring” in 2013 that marked the ballet/score’s 100th anniversary.

“The passion, energy and superb acting of the dancers will create an experience that will be riveting to our audience – even overwhelming,” Falletta said. “As much as I had studied ‘The Rite of Spring,’ I feel like I discovered what the piece was truly about in seeing their production. People might be wondering why ‘The Rite of Spring’ was such a groundbreaking moment in music and dance history. When they see this production they will completely understand how it changed the course of music and dance forever.”

Staged by Richmond Ballet’s Jerri Kumery, a protégé of the late Aiello, the 36-minute ballet’s story is taken from the rituals and ceremonies of primitive societies. In it, to celebrate the advent of spring and to bring good fortune, a young maiden is chosen as a sacrificial offering and dances herself to death.

While the ballet has seen countless dance interpretations since its Paris premiere in 1913, Kumery said Aiello not only researched ancient tribes from around the world in fashioning his ballet, but interjected noble motivations for its lead character, “the chosen one.”

Dancing the lead role in Buffalo will be retiring Richmond Ballet star Lauren Fagone. Rather than being an unlucky, terrified victim of this primitive ritual, Fagone said the brilliance of Aiello’s version is that she chooses herself.

“She is this fierce being who challenges the very nature of these rituals hoping for future change,” Fagone said.

Joining “Rite” on the program will be choreographer Val Caniparoli’s “Stolen Moments” (2015) set to music by Jean-Philippe Rameau.

“I was intrigued and inspired by the contradiction of composer Jean-Philippe Rameau’s graceful and attractive music to that of his public image where he was reported to have a lack of social grace,” Caniparoli said of the ballet.

Rounding out the production will be Richmond Ballet artistic director Stoner Winslett’s “Ancient Airs and Dances” set to Italian and French lute songs orchestrated by Ottorino Respighi. The ballet, in honor of former New York City Ballet dancer Joseph Duell whose untimely death in 1986 deeply affected Winslett, is for four couples who journey from Renaissance-era formality to shedding their facades in order to reach “a freer, ascended kind of place,” Winslett said.

DANCE PREVIEW

What: “The Rite of Spring,” performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Richmond Ballet

When: 7:30 p.m. April 21 (pre-performance talk at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, Amherst

Tickets: $67 and $47 general; $27 for students of any school; $127 VIP

Info: 645-2787, ubcfa.org

Announcing the 2016-2017 Pops Series

n his first season as Principal Pops Conductor, John Morris Russell has made a splash in Western New York. This coming season features more opportunities to see him on the podium, and a variety of exciting Pops concerts hand-picked by Russell from today’s best acts.

Russell is leading five shows with the BPO next season. He kicks off the Pops Series with the music of today’s most prolific and popular composer: John Willams. The concert features music from the Star Wars series, Superman, ET, Jurassic Park, and the Harry Potter series. On Oct. 22, Russell introduces New York Voices to Buffalo audiences in “Sweet Sounds of the 70s.” New York Voices have been performing together for 25 years and have won multiple Grammy awards. Known for their tight-knit harmonies and their broad range of influences, they will perform music by Queen, Paul Simon, Chicago and other top singer-songwriters of the era.

Broadway star Lisa Vroman joins Russell for a heart-stirring concert of the best love songs from Broadway and the American songbook on Feb. 10 and 11. Vroman has starred in some of the most romantic musicals of our time, including a run as Christine in

The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. The Feb. 11 concert includes the Sweetheart Dance, an annual tradition at the BPO. Russell also leads The Midtown Men on March 31 and April 1. The original cast of the smash Broadway hit Jersey Boys continues to bring the greatest hits of the 1960s to life at concert halls around the world. This concert marks their BPO debut.

Two popular conductors return to the BPO. On January 28, Michael Krajewski leads Tony-nominated vocalist Liz Callaway in “Tapestry – The Carole King Songbook.” Callaway’s versatile vocal career has included her award-winning “Sibling Revelry” show with sister and 2014 BPO guest artist Ann Hampton Callaway; an Academy Award nomination for “Journey to the Past” in the animated feature Anastasia; and five solo recordings. Krajewski has led the BPO on many occasions, most recently in May 2015 for the “Bond and Beyond” show and November 2015 for “Sounds of Simon & Garfunkel.”

Matt Catingub returns on May 26 and 27 to pay tribute to the American spirit with “Swingin’ Stars and Stripes.” This patriotic concert has a 1940s twist, featuring the music that inspired the Allies to triumph over the Axis. Catingub brought his Big Band and his Gershwin shows to Kleinhans and the BPO in 2014.

As a young man, Sal Andolina had a life-changing experience in New York when a chance encounter led to him taking a master class from the legendary Benny Goodman. The experience has resonated through Andolina’s career not only as a clarinetist/saxophonist for the BPO, but as a bandleader. On Oct. 7 and 8, he is featured in his “Benny and Me” show, which he has performed with several symphony orchestras around the country. He is joined by the tight-knit, highly-skilled brass section of the BPO, and his team of area jazz artists augments their sound for a thrilling performance.


Classical Mystery Tour has earned fans the world over for their faithful portrayal of the music of The Beatles. The BPO adds an orchestral twist to music spanning The Beatles’ career, from their early breakout songs like “Twist and Shout” to the musically complex “A Day in the Life.” Rock concert lighting and the dynamic stage presence of the quartet make for a heady concert experience when the band returns to the BPO on Nov. 5.
Other series highlights include several concerts led by Stefan Sanders including a tribute to Nat King Cole with Toronto-based vocalist Denzal Sinclaire; top ABBA show band Arrival From Sweden and “Broadway Comedy Tonight,” featuring the Great White Way’s funniest music from shows like Wicked and Chicago.
“I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with the fantastic musicians of the BPO as we celebrate the American musical experience in our Pops series,” said John Morris Russell. “The very best of Broadway, Hollywood, jazz and rock ‘n roll will keep Kleinhans hopping all season long!”


BPO Holiday Pops

John Morris Russell is known as “Mr. Christmas” for his love of holiday music. With a personal collection of more than 1000 holiday albums, he consistently creates holiday programs that sparkle and enchant. Last season, he impressed audiences at his Holiday Pops debut with witty banter and a spectacular musical program. For 2016’s Holiday Pops, he plans to feature the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, in a program of stunningly arranged favorites. Four performances are slated for Dec. 16, 17 and 18.

 

Subscribe now for best seats

As always, a subscription to the BPO is your best value. Patrons who subscribe save substantially on handling fees, lock in their seats early, and get the first chance to add other concerts to their package before the general public. With Western New York’s most flexible ticket exchange policy, your tickets can change when your schedule does. Single tickets will go on sale for all events on August 13, 2016.
To subscribe, call (716) 885-5000 or visit bpo.org today.

 

As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra’s home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 36 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org.

Ekachai Jearakul brings guitar recital to Kleinhans

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kate Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
716-242-7819
kmockler@bpo.org
BUFFALO, NY – Another JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition finalist returns to Buffalo in 2016.

Thai guitarist Ekachai Jearakul [Ehk-uh-chai Jehr-uh-kool] will perform a solo recital at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 in the Mary Seaton Room at Kleinhans Music Hall. Jearakul is a three-time semi-finalist and a two-time finalist at the Competition, placing second in 2014 and third in 2012.

The 29-year-old Jearakul is the first person from Asia to win the Guitar Foundation of America Competition, and his prize includes a 50-city recital tour. His Buffalo performance is co-sponsored by the Castellani Andriaccio Guitar Duo and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Jearakul will perform a broad range of works, including a piece written for him by Steven Goss, a suite by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand which Jearakul has brought to international stages as well as more traditional works by Brouwer and Turina.
His Naxos recording, “Ekachai Jearakul Guitar Recital,” takes listeners on a journey from the Baroque era through the nineteenth century to modern jazz-influenced works. Copies of this and his two previous discs will be available for purchase at the recital.

“Don’t miss Thailand’s monarch of the guitar! Audiences around the world marvel at his virtuosity and elegance and he is a favorite of our Buffalo audience,” said Michael Andriaccio, co-artistic director of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition.

His performance is part of the ramp-up to the 2016 JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition. Eight semi-finalists will be selected from a global talent pool to come to Buffalo. Semi-finals will take place on June 8 and 9 at the WNED Studios. Three finalists will be selected to perform on June 11 with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall under the baton of JoAnn Falletta. The audience will witness the selection of the winner and will get to vote for the Audience Favorite Award. Tickets for the finals are available now at bpo.org. The Competition is presented by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and WNED | WBFO.

Tickets for Jearakul’s recital are available at bpo.org or by calling (716) 885-5000, and are $10, or free with the purchase of a ticket to the Competition finals on June 11.

As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra’s home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 36 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org.

Hanslip electrifying, Falletta refined in Buffalo Phil concert, Rex Hearn, Palm Beach Arts Paper

In a short three-city tour of West Palm Beach, Vero Beach and Fort Lauderdale, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra showed Feb. 7 at the Kravis Center just how good they are under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, one of the fine women conductors who has made inroads into the once male-dominated maestro domain.

Abandoning the usual warm-up piece of overture or tone poem, the orchestra launched into the program with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (in D, Op. 35) with 29-year-old English soloist Chloë Hanslip. The second half of the program was devoted to Brahms’s Second Symphony (in D, Op. 73).

Composed in 1878, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto is one of the most popular works in the classical repertory. Composed after his disastrous marriage of two months, Tchaikovsky wrote it after fleeing to Clarens on Lake Geneva. This deeply personal concerto has a poetic undertow influenced by Lord Byron’s epic poem, Don Juan. It vacillates from joy to sadness. It probes: now singing, now weeping, now dancing. It was an emotive leap that flowed from his pen, and the afternoon performance was electrifying from soloist and orchestra.

Wiping the sweat from her palms down her black-and-white skirt, Hanslip waited impatiently as the first and second violins opened with a lovely melody before tucking her 1737 Guarneri del Gesú instrument under her chin . A hasty, ragged attack of her first quick bars of music was disappointing. Loose horsehair from her bow caught our attention and became distracting in its continual up and down flight.

Settling down to the movement’s Allegro moderato pace she produced a nice singing tone in the slower passages. After completing a phrase, her dramatic right arm flourishes seemed a bit overdone and melodramatic. Plucked orchestral strings accompanied her lovely intonation of repeated double octave work. Taking her time with the difficult cadenza, she developed the habit of half-turning away from the audience to play to the orchestra. Returning to the slower passages, she faced front and gave a sweetly refined interpretation of a beautiful Tchaikovsky tune followed by a race to the end by soloist and orchestra. Striking a nice balance, the orchestra accompanied her violin sensitively.

In the second movement (Canzonetta), Hanslip, turning her back on the audience, became deeply involved with the orchestra’s lead chairs, intensely looking in their direction. Next she turned to look at the first violins, nodding approvingly. Her playing here was full of warmth and emotion. The finale (Allegro vivacissimo) is full of quick tempos and difficult runs, all of which Hanslip executed brilliantly. But again, when she wasn’t playing, she ogled the clarinet soloist or the oboe soloist, her back to the audience again. Spinning around, she tackled more tough runs with brio and raced with the orchestra to the finish. Wild acclaim greeted soloist and orchestra from the audience. In her encore she was joined by the new concertmaster of the 75-member Buffalo Philharmonic, Dennis Kim, in a short duo by the French Baroque master Jean-Marie Leclair.

Later in the lobby, I heard people say how well Hanslip played but that her erratic positioning was too distracting for them. Hanslip’s intellectual curiosity in trying to connect with the orchestra is understood. However, a soloist is expected to present more decorum when playing to Palm Beach audiences. Turning one’s back on them is considered a slight. A minor quibble, but soloists must take locale into consideration.

 

Comparisons to male conducting greats of JoAnn Falletta’s conducting style are numerous. To estimate her capabilities fairly it must be based on her current work with this orchestra, and in this case, how she interpreted the Brahms Second.

Waiting 30 seconds for complete silence in the hall, Falletta set the perfect tempo to introduce the first movement with a clear two-handed downbeat. The orchestral sound was nicely balanced, dynamics were fully rounded and attractive; this was magical music-making. Facing the eight cellos to her right at the beginning of the second movement, she drew from them a beautiful rendition of the opening theme, rich in its warmth and well-played by all. Turning to the full orchestra, Falletta opened her arms wide, and with a front to back sweep of her graceful hands, led her orchestra in a kindly, gracious mood, strictly keeping the beat as cellos sawed away and woodwinds seemingly bubbled away over them.

Only three times during this movement did she make a grand gesture, arms held high to achieve a big orchestral crescendo. Her hand movements are subtle and never overdone.

Falletta’s third movement was smooth and controlled, with the conductor keeping everything simple and delicate. The finale (Allegro con spirito) opens softly, but suddenly the orchestra bursts in with a full-throated, whirling Brahms tune, full blast. Falletta moved it along, arms flailing, with skilled precision. A thrilling melody soars over the Alpine high meadows, telling us of Brahms’s expansive joy in writing the symphony and the time well-spent on the 1877 Bavarian holiday during which he wrote it.

But just to let us know he’s in charge, he ends with a brazen blast from the brass section that Dame Edith Sitwell would describe as “vulgar.” The Kravis audience cheered and gave the Buffalo Philharmonic a standing ovation. What a fine reading Falletta gave to this symphony. Her refined, calm interpretation will be remembered for a long time to come.

Buffalo Philharmonic Announces 2016-17 Season, Douglas Levy, The Public

Season after recent season, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has continually exceeded itself in programming that is groundbreaking and virtuosic, while engaging soloists and guest conductors who shine new light on old favorites and bring new or seldom heard works to the fore. This assessment is even truer regarding the Classics Season that the BPO announced for 2016-2017.

“I believe that this is our most dramatic season ever, and it also presents the most diverse programs we have offered,” says Music Director JoAnn Falletta. “We have a year of magical events that will dazzle our audiences.”

Headlining the star-studded roster of guest performers are violinists Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman. Bell, for my money, is the finest violinist of his generation. Any performance of standard repertoire works by him is always a revelatory experience. Hearing him play any of the venerable violin concertos is like hearing it for the first time. On Saturday, September 17, 2016 Bell inaugurates the orchestra’s 78th season by playing Max Bruch’s deliciously romantic Violin Concerto, a brilliant vehicle for a violinist of Joshua Bell’s extraordinary talent, at the BPO’s Opening Night Gala.

Itzhak Perlman is more than just a great violinist and international superstar. He is an ingratiating and powerful personality who is known not just as a musician but also as a cultural ambassador and interlocutor on all subjects musical, engaging audiences throughout the world. Perlman comes to Buffalo after a nine-year hiatus, on Saturday, February 25, 2017, to perform what promises to be startlingly unconventional yet highly compelling program that draws on memorable tunes from classic motion pictures, includingCasablanca, Cinema Paradiso, and Schindler’s List. Itzhak Perlman’s appearance is a special concert, not included in the subscription season. However, current subscribers may purchase tickets before they go on sale for the general public.

A major event on December 3 and 4, 2016 is the appearance on the BPO podium Kryzstof Penderecki. The eighty-three year old composer and conductor is known far and wide outside his native Poland, where he has always lived. His Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, St. Luke Passion, Polish Requiem and Anaklasisare among his best known pieces out of a body of work that encompasses all musical forms. Here he will conduct his Concerto for Violin and Cello, with Dennis Kim and Roman Mekinulov, the BPO’s Principal Violinist and Cellist respectively, providing the solo honors. Maestro Penderecki will fill out his program with works by Dvorak and Beethoven.

Two series concert pairs, on October 1, 2, 15 and 16 will be devoted to the music of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, perhaps the most beloved of nineteenth century Russian composers. A soupçon of the greatest moments from his oeuvre, including symphonies, concertos, ballets and operas will be presented, featuring pianist Fabio Bidini and the Cleveland Orchestra’s Principal Cellist Mark Kosower.

Devotées of 1980s rock will remember the Police and its drummer Steward Copeland. Since the group’s breakup Copeland has been branching out musically, and audiences will be surprised and delighted to hear his most recent excursion into the symphonic vein, Tyrant’s Crush. Buffalo gets to hear this work on October 28 and 29, 2016, only six months after its world premiere in Pittsburgh.

Following up on their successful collaboration last March with Beethoven’s Incidential Music to Egmont, Irish Classical Theatre Company teams up with the BPO again for three performances on January 20, 21, and 22 of Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play and film, Amadeus. Based on a highly fictionalized account of the relationship between Wolfgang Mozart and Antonio Salieri, the lives and passions of both men are portrayed incisively in Shaffer’s script and reflected movingly with the music of the great genius that was Mozart.

Other major attractions: March 10 and 11, 2017: superlative organist Cameron Carpenter will rock Kleinhans Music Hall with Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings and Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 “Organ”. May 6 and 7, 2017: The BPO explores the incredibly intense sound-world of Richard Wagner through excerpts from his magisterial Ring Cycle. March 22, 25 and 26, 2017, acclaimed Bach interpreter Angela Hewett will be in residence at Kleinhans for a master class and recital featuring theGoldberg Variations on that Wednesday, and soloist in two Bach piano concertos Saturday and Sunday. February 18 and 19, 2017: German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and soloists. November 11 and 12, 2016: Hear the American premiere of Helge Evju’s reconstruction of Edvard Grieg’s unfinished Piano Concerto No. 2, performed by Carl Peterson.

Other great works during the season beyond those already mentioned: Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 “Romantic”; Beethoven: Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto No. 3, and “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6; Gershwin:American in Paris; Scriabin: Symphonies No. 3 and “Poem of Ecstasy” Symphony No. 4; Saint-Saëns: Violin Concerto No. 3; Sibelius: Symphony No. 2; and works by rarely heard Englishmen: William Walton (Belshazzar’s Feast), Ralph Vaughan Williams (Pastoral Symphony), and John Ireland.

To see the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s schedule for the remainder of this season as well as next, go tobpo.org. Call 885-5000 for subscription and ticket information.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra powerful at Kravis, Ken Keaton, Palm Beach Daily News

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra returned to the Kravis Sunday afternoon under JoAnn Falletta, for a concert of classics — Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D.

The days of the Big Five orchestras — New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Boston — dominating American concert music are long gone, and the Buffalo band is as fine as any in the world. Maestro Falletta has been their music director since 1998. Though tiny in stature, she is a titan on the podium — surely one of the greatest conductors of her generation.

And the sound of that ensemble! From the opening notes, the orchestra produces a ravishing tone, perfect balance, a huge range of dynamics and absolute precision no matter what the technical demands. Each section plays gloriously, and the first-chair soloists are each superb.

This was the second time this season that the Kravis audience heard Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky — earlier, by Arnaud Sussmann and the New World Symphony. That was a strong performance, but British violinist Chloë Hanslip was even stronger.

Hanslip, not yet 30, has already established herself as a world-class virtuoso with performances on four continents and a series of recordings on Hyperion. Her performance was richly romantic without being self-indulgent, and the sound of her 1737 Guarneri del Gesu was remarkable — silky tone, with a huge range of dynamics that could cut through the entire orchestra.

This concerto is perhaps the most romantic concerto of the entire violin repertory. Its technical demands stretch the soloist to the limits. Those demands hold no terrors for Hanslip, who negotiated the wildest passages with aplomb. But she was best in the lyric heart of the work, especially the songful second movement. And she joined concertmaster Dennis Kim in a duo as an encore, from a suite by Leclair.

Johannes Brahms’ second symphony was completed just a year after his first, a stormy and triumphant work. His second was in a wholly different mold — gentle, graceful, and lyrical, full of pastoral delights.

The opening theme in the cellos and basses seems, from the Buffalo band, to rise up from the earth itself. And throughout the work, Brahms bathes the listener in a warmth that seems to come from Nature herself.

The second symphony is all about balance — a natural progression of sonorities and tempos, and Falletta has all this in her heart. Two of the movements add the phrase non troppo — not too much, surely Brahms’ favorite musical expression. Even the whirlwind at the end of the final movement never spins out of control. Brahms would have been happy.

And if we needed a bit more fireworks, Falletta led a rousing reading of the overture to Bedřich Smetana’s The Bartered Bride for an encore.

BPO partners with The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to bring music to Catholic school students

Buffalo Philharmonic partners with The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to bring music to Catholic school students

BUFFALO, NY – Students from 17 Catholic schools will attend the BPO’s Feb. 3 Music For Youth program, in a special event called Catholic Schools Day at the BPO. This event occurs during the annual Catholic Schools Week celebrated by the Diocese each year. It is a reinvigoration of the partnership between the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The program begins at 10:15 a.m.

More than 1600 students are expected to attend this morning youth concert, from schools all over Western New York’s eight counties. Also in attendance will be the Bishop of Buffalo Richard J. Malone Th. D, the Catholic Schools Superintendent Sr. Carol Cimino and Secretary of Catholic Education Carol Kostyniak.

The program is designed for third through sixth grades and is titled “BPO Musical Passport.” Music from America, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America will introduce students to musical forms, instruments of the orchestra, rhythms and melodies from around the world. This interactive program encourages participation through movement and active engagement, and combines music, geography and world cultures.

“The BPO is proud to partner with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo once again,” says Robin Parkinson, BPO director of education and community engagement. “This is a longstanding relationship that dates back over 20 years and we are pleased to continue this important connection to the Catholic Schools for many years to come.”

As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra’s home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 36 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org.

Buffalo Philharmonic To Perform At SUNY Fredonia, Jamestown Post-Journal

 The Buffalo Philharmonic will perform with the State University at Fredonia Masterworks Chorus, Chautauqua Youth Senior Chorus and Chancel Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, in the King Concert Hall.

A second performance will take place at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on March 11.

Bach’s grandest and, arguably, his greatest work, the Great Passion will be performed in the original language with supertitles.

“This collaborative project has been more than a year in the making,” said Dr. Mel Unger, director of the SUNY Fredonia School of Music.”We are thrilled to collaborate with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Buffalo. It allows us to bring one of the monuments of Western music to a wider audience, while also providing our students an opportunity to present a major masterwork alongside professional musicians.”

The all-star cast is highlighted by guest soloists William Hite (tenor) and Aaron Engebreth (baritone), with Fredonia faculty soloists Angela Haas, JoeDan Harper, Daniel Ihasz, Julie Newell and Laurie Tramuta. Fredonia’s Sean Duggan will be featured on continuo organ, joined by guest Baroque specialists Michael Beattie, Patricia Halverson and Christopher Haritatos.

“The St. Matthew Passion is a highly dramatic work that presents a poignant story with universal themes of betrayal, murder and redemption that can be felt and embraced by a diverse audience,” said Gerald Gray, SUNY Fredonia voice professor and conductor/artistic director for the project. “I wish to engage the audience in an emotional dialogue, with Bach the dramatist, that is transformative. This collaboration brings together four leading musical institutions in Western New York to present the ‘St. Matthew Passion’ with uncompromising artistic and vocal depth.”

In addition to the 78 Fredonia students singing in the Masterworks Chorus, current Fredonia students Michael J. Hawk, Nicole Moy, William Steadman, Lucille Horn, Michelle Cope and Lucia Helgren, and music alumni Kyle Botsford, a 2010 graduate; Timothy Flynn, a 2004 graduate; Roger VanDette, a 1978 graduate; and Michael Manganiello, a 2012 graduate; will appear in lead and supporting roles. The Fredonia Masterworks Chorus will be joined by the 35-member Chancel Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and the 20-member Chautauqua Youth Senior Chorus.

“For the double-chorus,” Gray said, “we combine the excellent singers of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Chancel Choir, under the direction of their organist/choirmaster James Bigham, with select voices from the choirs of the School of Music at Fredonia, to form a superb choral instrument. The Chautauqua Youth Senior Chorus, under the direction of Marjorie Bohn, brings a lovely youthful tone that will delight the audience.”

While Bach had a very specific purpose in mind when composing this work – to present the story of the Crucifixion in music at Good Friday vesper services – Bach’s Passion continues to move audiences nearly three centuries after it was first heard in St. Thomas’s Church in Leipzig, Germany.

“The great works of antiquity, such as the sculptures of Michelangelo or the tragedies of Shakespeare, continue to live as each new generation has their own dialog with these creations,” Gray said. “Such is the case with the ‘St. Matthew Passion.’ When we engage with these works, we are ennobled. It has been over 20 years since this masterwork has been performed in Western New York. Now is our time to share the St. Matthew Passion with a new generation.”

Tickets are available by calling 673-3501, online at fredonia.edu/tickets, or in person at the Fredonia Ticket Office. General tickets are $25; student/child tickets are $10.

The event is supported by the SUNY Fredonia School of Music, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Buffalo and the Williams Visiting Professorship endowment through the Fredonia College Foundation.

BPO Florida trip ‘music to a lot of ears,’ Jim Fink, Business First

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming three concert Florida performances are as much about fundraising as friend-raising.

The orchestra will be performing on Feb. 7 in West Palm Beach, Feb. 9 in Vero Beach and Feb. 10 in Gainesville. The trip is the third Florida tour for the BPO in recent years and second in the past three years.

“It’s about getting the name of the BPO out there,” said Dan Hart, orchestra executive director.

 

To make the trip, the orchestra needed to raise $200,000, much of it from an effort led by current board member and Buffalo business leader John Yurtchuk and past BPO trustee and M&T Bank executive Donald Dussing. The orchestra is also receiving fees from the three venues where it will be performing.

“Financially, the trip will be a net benefit,” Hart said. “But there is an artistic component, the challenge for the orchestra to play in three very different halls.”

Performing pieces by Tchaikovsky and Brahms — both of which the centerpieces of the orchestra’s Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 concerts at Kleinhans Music Hall — is intended to increase the BPO’s following in Florida.

JoAnn Falletta, orchestra music director and principal conductor, said she and her fellow musicians love the challenge of playing in different venues outside of Kleinhans Music Hall.

“You have to consider the hall like an instrument,” Falletta said. “Playing in different halls, you hear things in a different way.”

Both Falletta and Hart agree that given the large number of people from Buffalo either living or spending the winter months in Florida, it makes sense to conduct the occasional tour of the Sunshine State.

 

This tour was generated by an invitation from the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. The orchestra played there two winters ago.

Hart said rather than play one Florida concert, additional bookings were made for Vero Beach’s Community Church and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The additional bookings help spread out the expenses of taking 75 musicians plus Falletta, associate conductor Stefan Sanders and guest violinist Chloe Hanslip on the tour. The BPO may have as many as eight staffers on the trip.

The Tchaikovsky and Brahms pieces, along with Paul Gay’s “Due Sorelle,” which is being performed in Buffalo and Vero Beach, are being recorded and will be released later this year on the orchestra’s Beau Fleuve label.

“Knowing we are recording these pieces, along with playing before different audiences, definitely puts us on our toes, and that’s a good thing,” Falletta said.

Violinist, BPO make it a memorable night, Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News

Kleinhans Music Hall is alive this weekend with the kind of epic concert that few saw coming. Saturday night’s concert drew what looked like close to a full house, and the applause echoed into the night.

The soloist is Chloe Hanslip, a violinist in her late 20s. She is playing the crowd-pleasing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and she has her own way with it. To conclude the concert, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts Brahms’ Symphony No. 2.

The concert starts with the world premiere of an attractive modern piece, the finale from “Due Sorelle” by Paul Gay, who was in attendance and took a bow at the end. “Due Sorelle” is a ballet inspired by a photos of mysterious sisters Gay glimpsed in a historic house in Boston, Mass.

You really don’t have to worry too much about the context. Just enjoy the music, which has a serene feel calling to mind the turn of the last century. The Philharmonic performed it with loving precision, and the colors sparkled. It does make you curious to hear, and see, the entire ballet. Whatever the rest of the piece is like, I admire the composer for writing music this lovely.

The Tchaikovsky concerto, in stark opposite to that first piece, is something many people know inside out. It’s not easy to put a new spin on this music, but I would say that Hanslip did.

Hanslip is a pretty and demure figure with her long gown and Victorian hairdo, but she takes a bold and individual approach. From the first notes sounded on that historic Guarneri violin, you knew she was a little different. She took command of the piece, giving it rubato and elan. The word “klezmer” came to mind more than once, as the concerto proceeded. Is that so bad to say? I like it when the classical and pop worlds cross.

The drama wasn’t all Hanslip’s doing. Tchaikovsky builds it into this concerto, and she knew enough to capitalize on it. She would play with whispery delicacy one minute, then dig into the instrument the next. It was admirable how Falletta and the Philharmonic followed her, giving her space to be herself. Watching the performance, you are drawn into her interactions between the musicians of the orchestra. One super-quiet interlude she shared with John Fullam, the orchestra’s principal clarinetist, can make you catch your breath.

The excitement built through the last movement. This is a whirl of a piece, and Hanslip was dazzling in the subtleties – the flashes of light and shadow, the lightning-fast triplets. There was tremendous excitement. The coda went over the edge, as you knew that it would. Falletta briefly went airborne. Hanslip wrapped up the piece with dash, and the full house thundered to its feet, applauding.

Everyone clapped and clapped and Hanslip returned three times, bowing gracefully, acknowledging Falletta and the orchestra. I was surprised there was no encore. Then again, how would you top that performance?

Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 was a good chaser. What a luminous symphony this is. It always seemed to me full of the feel of summer, and in January, it’s powerful therapy.

Falletta and the orchestra gave this music room the way they had given Hanslip room. It has to unfold as if on its own, and it did. It gives you good opportunities to appreciate the musicians’ gifts. The French horns play a central part in the pastoral feel, adding touches of color and light. The start of the slow movement spotlighted the glorious sound of our cellos.

The BPO paced the symphony nicely and the last movement built, as the Tchaikovsky had, to great excitement. This symphony can claim one of the great symphonic endings of all time, and you felt the power. Falletta went airborne again, bringing it home. The crowd loved it.

So much, in fact, that the BPO played an encore – the overture to Mikhail Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ludmila.”

What a memorable concert. It repeats Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Kleinhans Music Hall.