Author: Kate Mockler

Buffalo never fails!

During World War I, the phrase “Buffalo Never Fails” was coined. More than 100 years later, it still applies. Buffalo never fails to show its passion and its support. Buffalo never fails to answer a call for help. Whether it’s your neighbor, your charities, or your cultural organizations that need you, Buffalo always, ALWAYS sees it through!

The BPO started the month by asking for your support of our Poland trip. Board member and Poland Tour Ambassador Cindy Abbott Letro and Francis Letro threw down a challenge to the entire region: if you can give $30,000 in the next 30 days to support the BPO’s first international tour in 30 years, we’ll match it dollar for dollar. Quite a challenge!

You might wonder: were the musicians, staff, and board of the BPO nervous? Did we wonder if anyone would support this tour, with so many other worthy causes out there and so much else to distract people? The short answer is no. We know how passionate Western New York is about the BPO. We know how much pride exists for our region. We know that once people heard that we planned to represent the entire region in a country to which Western New York is deeply tied, they would want to be a part of our endeavor.

We were right. Once again, Buffalo saw it through. In only 14 days, the challenge was been met. With $30,000 raised from the community and matched by the generosity of the Letros, we are that much closer to our overall fundraising goal for this trip. We are so grateful to the community, and we thank everyone who has donated!

That doesn’t mean we’re done, though. We still have around $27,000 to raise in order to make the trip a financial as well as an artistic success. For $1000, you can sponsor an individual musician to go on the tour. About half of the orchestra is sponsored already. Some musicians are sponsored by individuals, some by companies, and some by groups of people. If you sponsor a musician, you’ll get an invitation for one to a VIP reception where you can meet your musician, an invitation for one to the sendoff party and March 10 concert, a thank-you note and souvenir from your musician, and communication from your musician during the tour. Perhaps best of all, when you hear about this tour on the news or on social media, you’ll have the knowledge that you helped to make it happen. To take part in this historic opportunity, contact Wendy Diina at or (716) 242-7826.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra announces its 2018-2019 season

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra announces its 2018-2019 season and your connection to the world’s music


BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates the vast array of music that makes up our world in the upcoming season. The 2018-19 season is filled with major works, superstars, drama, multimedia and masterpieces old and new that will resonate throughout Kleinhans Music Hall.

M&T Bank Classics Series strikes balance between cutting-edge and traditional

JoAnn Falletta has artfully programmed a classics season that features beloved works, new voices, and works of a truly global character. The season opens on Saturday, Sept. 15 with operatic superstar baritone Thomas Hampson in a program that also includes Beethoven’s iconic Ninth Symphony, featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. Hampson is a Metropolitan Opera Guild “Met Mastersinger” and has a distinguished international career that includes more than 80 operatic roles performed in the world’s foremost opera houses. His award-winning discography comprises more than 170 recordings. The BPO’s annual gala takes place that evening, with pre-concert dinner and cocktails, premium concert seating, and a post-concert dessert reception. Proceeds from the gala benefit the BPO’s award-winning educational programs, which serve more than 50,000 students every season.

The next two Classics concerts highlight both European masterworks and New York-based composers. On Sept. 29 and 30, George Tsontakis’ May the River be Unbroken complements Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. On Oct. 12 and 13, Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto and Buffalo native Robert Paterson’s Dark Mountains are featured with Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3. JoAnn Falletta, a native New Yorker herself, leads both concerts.

On Oct. 27 and 28, the BPO celebrates the centennial of Poland’s independence, the country’s rich musical heritage, and the warm relationship between Poland and Buffalo, exemplified by the BPO’s Poland Tour. Piotr Sulkowski,General and Artistic Director of the Warmia and Masuria Philharmonics, guest-conducts a program featuring Paderewski’s Piano Concerto performed by Polish pianist Lukasz Krupinski, Nowowiejski’s Praetorian March from Quo Vadis, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3, “Polish.”

Joan Tower is one of today’s most celebrated female composers. Her work has been commissioned by leading soloists like Evelyn Glennie and Carol Wincenc, and by major orchestras such as the Saint Louis Symphony and Florida Orchestra. She will be in attendance on Nov. 16 and 17 for the performance of two of her best-known works: Tambor and Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. The striking program includes Mussorgsky’s beloved Pictures at an Exhibition, and a Concerto for Rock Band, Violin and String Orchestra performed by former R.E.M bassist Mike Mills and violinist Robert McDuffie.

On Feb. 2 and 3, 2019, conductor Ken Lam leads the BPO in a Chinese New Year celebration. Xu Ke is the world’s foremost erhu virtuoso, and will perform the Butterfly Lovers Concerto by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang. Also on the program is the popular Train Tocatta by contemporary Chinese composer Liu Yuan, and Stravinsky’s Song of a Nightingale.

Violinist Sarah Chang has been in the international spotlight since she was eight. The former child prodigy has matured into one of the most respected violinists of our time. She will return the BPO for the first time in more than a decade on March 2 and 3, 2019 to perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto. The rest of the program continues the orchestra’s exploration of the works of Florent Schmitt. A popular French composer during the early 20th century, Schmitt won the Prix de Rome, but his works faded from the repertoire over time. In 2015, the BPO released a disc of his works on the Naxos label, and his Musique sur l’Eau and La Tragedie of Salome will be performed on this concert and recorded for a follow-up disc for Naxos.

One of the major highlights of the season comes on April 13 and 14. Throughout his life, composer Richard Danielpour has wished to write a Passion that depicts the timeless story of the death of Jesus Christ in a manner that speaks to modern people. Using both English and Hebrew texts, Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua will receive its East Coast premiere and first full-scale performance. Soprano Hila Plitmann, who recorded with the BPO on their Grammy-winning Mr. Tambourine Man album, will be the guest soloist. JoAnn Falletta will conduct, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus will lend their voices to this powerful work, commissioned by the BPO.

The season concludes on June 1 and 2 with Carmen in Concert. One of the most popular operas of all time, its music has become woven into the fabric of popular culture, frequently used in commercials, films, television shows and cartoons. Its accessible, action-packed storyline has made it a perennial favorite at opera houses around the world. A stellar cast will join the BPO and Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in a semi-staged production of highlights from this opera.

There is much more in store for the Classics season, including a guest appearance by eminent conductor Hans Graf; a celebration of Mozart’s birthday featuring BPO musicians performing his Sinfonia Concertante; Holst’s The Planets; Copland’s Clarinet Concerto performed by New York Philharmonic Principal Clarinet Anthony McGill and conducted by Leon Botstein; Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 on a program that includes Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 performed by Sara Buechner; and the United States premiere of Sheridan Seyfried’s Violin Concerto performed by Concertmaster Dennis Kim on a program that includes Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony.

“I can’t tell you how proud we are to be bringing this season to our Western New York audience,” Falletta said. “When we develop a season, we try to balance classical masterworks with the bold new works that are being written in our own time. Today’s audiences love Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Holst’s The Planets, but these works are available for us to enjoy today because audiences took a chance on them in the past. Buffalo has always embraced new works, and we can’t wait to share these gems with you in the coming season.”

Click here to view the entire Classics season.

Kristin Chenoweth headlines the Pops Series

Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell has created a series filled with variety from Broadway to over the rainbow and a galaxy far, far away. He conducts six of the concerts on the series, this year including the season kickoff, Happy Birthday Gershwin on Sept. 22. This program celebrates the 120th birthday of this quintessentially American composer, who brought jazz from the clubs into the concert hall and penned such classics as Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess.

The performance of Emmy and Tony award winner Kristin Chenoweth on April 6, 2019 is the highlight of the Pops Series. Chenoweth is possibly best-known as the original Glinda in Wicked, but she also appeared in Pushing Daisies, The West Wing, Disney’s Descendants, and more. In 2009, she wrote a candid, comedic chronicle of her life so far, A Little Bit Wicked, which debuted on the New York Times Hardcover Non-Fiction Bestseller list.

Russell will be back on Oct. 6 to conduct Melinda Doolittle. Doolittle rose to prominence on American Idol, when Simon Cowell called her his “personal favorite.” Since then, Doolittle has performed everywhere from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Carnegie Hall. She makes her BPO debut singing the ‘American Soulbook,’ with classic and modern soul super hits.

Russell will also conduct a special Thanksgiving weekend presentation of “Superheroes!” This concert will start an hour earlier than usual, at 7 p.m. Nov. 24, and will feature scores from the Marvel Universe of films, as well as the iconic music associated with Batman, Superman, Spiderman and more. He will also, of course, be on the Holiday Pops podium as Mr. Christmas, with the panoply of Christmas delights the Western New York audience has come to cherish. In response to extraordinary demand, there will be an additional morning performance of this concert on Thursday. Dec. 13 at 10:30 a.m, replacing the Friday night performance offered in previous years.

On Feb. 9, The Hot Sardines make their BPO debut under the baton of John Morris Russell. Bandleader Evan Palazzo and lead singer Elizabeth Bougerol met in 2007 after they both answered a Craigslist ad about a jazz jam session above a Manhattan noodle shop. The pair bonded over their love for Fats Waller and founded The Hot Sardines to make old jazz new again. They channel New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls, and their self-titled debut album was named one of the best jazz albums of the year by iTunes. Russell closes the Pops season on May 24 and 25 with the traditional Memorial Day salute to American veterans and American ideals.

The rest of the series is a romp through some of the best music from the stage, screen and AM radio. “Hello Broadway!” on Oct. 19 and 20 celebrates the work of Jerry Herman, composer of Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles, and Mame, among other Broadway smash hits. November 2 and 3 will see the world premiere of Ann Hampton Callaway’s “The Linda Ronstadt Songbook.” Michael Cavanaugh will return on Feb. 23 with the music of Billy Joel, Elton John and more. On March 15 and 16, “The World of Oz” pays tribute to the L. Frank Baum classic as told on Broadway in “The Wiz” and “Wicked,” by Hollywood in “The Wizard of Oz,” and on the radio in songs like “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The BPO also takes the “May the Fourth Be With You” celebration from social media to the Kleinhans stage with a Star Wars concert on that date, featuring the Academy Award winning iconic music spanning the franchise’s four decades.

“We have so much spectacular music to share with Buffalo next season,” said John Morris Russell. “We put the ‘pop!’ in  ‘popular’ orchestral music everyone loves. I can’t wait to revel in the exceptional artistry of the BPO, our amazing guest artists, and the flat-out fun we all have together at Kleinhans Music Hall!”

Click here to view the entire Pops Season.

The BPO goes to Florida

The BPO has visited Florida several times in the past decade, performing for sold-out crowds in some of the state’s cultural hotspots and reconnecting with the many supporters and friends who have left Buffalo for warmer climes. From March 30 to April 4, 2019, the orchestra will again pay a visit to the Sunshine State, with engagements in St. Augustine, Dayton Beach, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, and Vero Beach. Buffalo favorite Fabio Bidini will be the featured soloist on the 2019 Florida Friends tour, performing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 on a program that includes Borodin’s Overture to Prince Igor and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. The program will be performed at Kleinhans on March 23 and 24.

Subscribe now for best seats to these concerts

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 11.

This year, subscribers who renew by March 19 will be able to keep the same price as the previous year. Prices will increase after March 19. Subscription packages range from as few as five concerts, to full seasons of Pops or Classics. To subscribe, call (716) 885-5000 or visit today.

About the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

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 43 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

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Buffalo Philharmonic seeks to raise $30,000 in 30 days for first international tour in 30 years

Buffalo Philharmonic seeks to raise $30,000 in 30 days for first international tour in 30 years

BUFFALO, NY – With less than seven weeks until the Buffalo Philharmonic departs for Poland, a fundraising challenge has been set.

Longtime BPO friends and supporters Cindy and Francis Letro have challenged the BPO to raise $30,000 in 30 days for the orchestra’s first international tour in 30 years. Cindy, BPO Board member and Poland Tour Ambassador, led the BPO’s successful trip to New York City for the Carnegie Hall concert in 2013.

The Letros will match challenge contributions dollar for dollar up to $30,000. The challenge begins on February 1 and concludes on March 2. Those who participate will be entered to win a prize package including an autographed copy of the not-yet-released “Treasures of Poland” CD, a Poland tour hat produced by New Era Cap, and a voucher for two tickets to any concert in the 2017-18 season. Anyone wishing to take part in the challenge by donating to the tour can visit or call (716) 242-7826.

“Undertaking a tour of this magnitude is a huge endeavor; sending 100 musicians and staff members to Poland – not to mention all of the instruments – is a monumental venture, ” said Daniel Hart, BPO Executive Director. “We are grateful to the Letros for this challenge gift. There has been an outpouring of support already from the community, and we invite the public to be a part of it and help the orchestra meet this challenge and fulfill its role as Buffalo’s cultural ambassador to the world.”

The BPO is performing at the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at the invitation of Elzbieta Penderecka, the founder and artistic director of the festival. The BPO be the first full American orchestra to perform at the festival, and Maestro JoAnn Falletta will be the first American woman to ever take the festival’s podium.  The invitation to perform at the Beethoven Festival inspired the BPO to launch its first international tour in 30 years. In addition to the concert in Warsaw, the orchestra will perform in Wroclaw, Katowice, and Lublin. An ensemble will perform in Luslawice and in Buffalo’s Sister City, Rzeszów.

Opportunities to sponsor individual musicians, instruments, or sections are available. Call (716) 242-7826 for more information. On March 10 and 11, the BPO will perform the tour program at Kleinhans. A pre-concert sendoff toast will take place at 7 p.m. on March 10, and is open to all concert attendees. For tickets to this event, visit

The Poland tour’s lead sponsor is John and Carolyn Yurtchuk. Poland Tour Leaders are: Cindy Abbott Letro and Francis Letro; ABC-Amega, Inc.; Aleron; Mark Chason and Mariana Botero-Chason; Robert and Carol Morris; Victor and Corinne Rice; and Jim and Michal Wadsworth. Poland Tour Champions are: The Baird Foundation; IBM; Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; and Rich Products. Poland Tour Community Partners are: Anthony Baldi and Associates; The Bolton Family; Chuck and Lisa Boulange; Brian Parisi Copier Systems;  Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus; Mark Cerrone; Computer Task Group; Curbell Medical; Dash’s Market; Anthony and Kathy Diina; Robert and Julia Garra; Gurney Becker and Bourne; Dan and Barbara Hart; Iroquois Bar Corp.; KeyBank; Ronald Luczak; The Honorable Judge Ann T. Mikoll; Kathy and John Nerger: In Honor of Joyce Ellis’ 85th Birthday; Mark Peszko; Premier Wine/Southern Wine and Spirits; Reid Group; Salvatore’s Italian Gardens; and Woods Oviatt Gilman.

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 43 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

From a beatboxing flutist to the Poland tour send-off, a busy six weeks of music at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

From a beatboxing flutist to the Poland tour send-off, a busy six weeks of music at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

BUFFALO, NY – Kleinhans Music Hall will be a busy place in the weeks leading up to the BPO’s Poland tour.

Pianist Tony DeSare lights up the KeyBank Pops Series at 8 p.m on Feb. 3 with music from rock to romance from artists such as Billy Joel, John Lennon, Elton John and Ray Charles. The evening culminates with Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” considered to be the ultimate American piece of music performed with DeSare’s personal style.

For Immediate Release
Jan. 29, 2018
Contact: Kate Jenkins
BPO Communications Coordinator
(716) 242-7819

The genre-bending Project Trio will be in residence for several days, starting with a BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids concert at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4. The trio consists of beatboxing flutist Greg Pattillo, cellist Eric Stephenson, and bassist Peter Seymour. They perform their own compositions and arrangements of well-known works in a show that encourages audience interaction. They are one of the most-watched instrumental ensembles on YouTube, and are passionate about engaging young people in music-making. On Feb. 6, they perform in Kleinhans’ Mary Seaton Room in a solo recital at 7 p.m. They will also visit schools and perform on the West Side Connection education concert taking place on Feb. 7, and available on demand to teachers in Western New York’s eight counties free of charge.

On Saturday, Feb. 10 and Sunday, Feb. 11, JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium to lead one of her favorite works: Scheherazade, by Rimsky-Korsakov. The BPO has recorded this piece and performed it on the inaugural Know the Score concert, led by Falletta in 2012. The piece spins a tale of courage, wit and creativity. Scheherazade was forced to marry an evil sultan who was notorious for slaying his bride after their wedding night. Determined to survive, she spun a captivating tale for the sultan, with a cliffhanger ending that she pledged to reveal the next night – when she also began a new story. This legend frames the “1001 Nights,” a work that dates from approximately 850 AD and became known to the Western world in 1710. On the same concert, Finnish violinist Elina Vahala returns to perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. The BPO will also perform Symphony No. 1 “Awakening” by Wang Jie, a one-of-a-kind composer who was raised in China and now lives in the United States. Wang describes herself as “part cartoon character, part virtuoso” and characterizes this symphony as her most personal work.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra began touring in 1938, and except for a few years following Miller’s death in World War II, has never stopped. On Friday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 17, the Glenn Miller Orchestra brings its signature sound to Kleinhans and the BPO. Today, their repertoire exceeds 1700 compositions, and they perform for approximately half a million people a year. Since 2012, conductor and vocalist Nick Hilscher has led the group. Hilscher has had an affinity for big band music since his youth, and did a stint as the lead male vocalist with the group before becoming its conductor. The lead female vocalist, Natalie Angst, had a similar love for the music of the 1940s, and together, they are bringing the classic, All-American sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra into the 21st century. On Feb. 17, the audience is invited to stay after the concert for the annual Sweetheart Dance, with music by the Katy Miner Quintet.

On Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24, conductor Rebecca Miler makes her BPO debut. Born in California, Miller holds several conducting positions with British orchestras and universities: Associate Conductor of the Southbank Sinfonia, Principal Conductor of the Bishop’s Stortford Sinfonia, Director of Orchestras at Royal Holloway University of London, and conductor at the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music. The program she will lead features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, and the concert’s centerpiece, Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, which he wrote for his wife, composer and pianist Clara Wieck Schumann. Pianist Fei-Fei Dong makes her own BPO debut with this piece.

The days prior to the BPO’s departure for Poland will be packed. On Friday, March 2, Dave Mason performs with the BPO on the BPO Rocks series. Mason is a founding member of Traffic, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a multi-gold album solo artist, and an accomplished studio musician and songwriter. He brings his signature songs like “Feelin’ Alright” and “We Just Disagree” with him, enhanced by the power of the full BPO.

“A Night at the Oscars” takes place on Saturday, March 3. John Morris Russell conducts iconic movie music like “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone With the Wind;” the symphonic suite from “Lord of the Rings;” and John Williams’ music from “E.T.” After the concert, the BPO is throwing an Oscars party. The audience is encouraged to dress up for their red carpet moment, which will be captured by paparazzi and documented by interviewers. Oscar props, movie snacks, signature drinks, and live music by JoyRyde, which includes several Buffalo Music Hall of Famers, complete the party atmosphere.

Kids take over Kleinhans on Sunday, March 4 for “Peter and the Wolf.” The BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids concert is employing close-up video to help introduce each instrument to the audience. Free activities begin at 1:30 p.m, with the concert starting at 2:30 p.m.

The BPO’s first international tour in 30 years kicks off in Buffalo on Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11. JoAnn Falletta will lead the BPO in a program showcasing American composers: Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story;” Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1; and George Gershwin’s Concerto in F, performed by composer/pianist Conrad Tao. The program also includes a nod to eminent Polish composer/conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, with the Adagietto from “Paradise Lost.” Penderecki guest-conducted the BPO in 2016, and his wife, Elzbieta Penderecka, is president and founder of the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, at which the BPO will be performing in Poland. The audience is invited to come early on Sat. March 10 for a champagne toast to a successful tour.  The orchestra will tour six cities in Poland from March 15-22.

All concerts take place at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle. Tickets are available by calling (716) 885-5000, visiting, or going to the Kleinhans Music Hall box office at 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo. Subscription packages are available in all sizes and offer many great benefits to subscribers. Student season passes are available for $29. Individual event tickets are $11 for students with valid ID.

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 43 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit


West Side Connection week features community and school events

West Side Connection week features community and school events

BUFFALO, NY – The BPO’s award-winning West Side Connection education program takes place during the first week of February, and this year, its influence will spread beyond the schools.

For Immediate Release
Jan. 30, 2018
Contact: Kate Jenkins
BPO Communications Coordinator
(716) 242-7819

Robin Parkinson
BPO Education Director
(716) 242-7808

The program is a partnership between the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Public Schools. Through educational activities, guest artist visits and a culminating concert, this project involves students in the 12 Buffalo Public Schools in the neighborhood of Kleinhans, including three Spanish bilingual schools, a Native American magnet school and three international schools serving the West Side population of recent and past immigrants from diverse countries. Its goals are to explore diversity through music, to reinforce and enhance the school curriculum, and to connect the BPO with the community in a meaningful way. The culminating concert is always made available on demand to classrooms around the region, with upwards of 15,000 students experiencing it each year.

The community will also have several opportunities to hear the guest artists in concert. Project Trio is a Brooklyn-based ensemble educated at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Consisting of a cellist, bassist and flutist, they are among the most-watched ensembles on YouTube and are passionate about expanding the boundaries of classical music and guiding children in exploring what instruments can do. On Sunday, Feb. 4, they will perform with the BPO on the BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids series at Kleinhans Music Hall. The concert begins at 2:30 p.m., with doors opening at 1:30 for free activities. On Tuesday, Feb. 6, they will perform on their own in Kleinhans’ intimate Mary Seaton Room at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at for both events.

Cellist Ifetayo Ali is the winner of the 2017 Sphinx Competition. The Sphinx Organization was founded to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music and to create positive change in the arts and in communities. Fifteen-year-old Ali was also the second-place winner in the 2016 Sphinx Competition. Based in the Chicago area, she has performed with the Wilmington (NC) Symphony, New World Symphony, and Detroit Symphony. On Sunday, Feb. 4, she will give a free recital at 3 p.m. at St. Martin de Porres Church, 555 Northampton St., Buffalo. She will be joined by the All-City Gospel Youth Choir and the Muhammed School of Music Chamber Players. The recital, titled “In Harmony Community Concert,” is sponsored by the BPO’s Diversity Council.

Project Trio and Ali will spend Monday and Tuesday at the schools that participate in the West Side Connection program. Ali will visit Lafayette High School at 9 a.m. and Dr. Antonia Pantoja Community School of Academic Excellence at 11 a.m. on Feb. 5; and International Prep and West Hertel at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 6, respectively. Project Trio will visit Hutch Tech at 10:15 a.m on Feb. 5. Students from the other participating West Side Connection schools will be bused to these locations.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m., Ali and Project Trio will be back at Kleinhans to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Stefan Sanders. The students that they engaged with earlier in the week will comprise the live audience for the concert, which is being captured on video and streamed on demand to classrooms in Western New York’s eight counties. An estimated 1,800 students will attend the concert. Registration is still available, and teachers may go online at to gain access to the program.

“Each West Side Connection program is more than a year in the making,” said BPO Education Director Robin Parkinson. “I work closely with a team of educators and musicians to develop the program. The result is an event that truly connects children to the power of music and helps them gain an appreciation for the beautiful mosaic of cultures and ethnicities that can be found right in Kleinhans’ neighborhood. The BPO is everyone’s orchestra, and this concert helps fulfill that promise.”


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 43 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit


Mathieu and Gershwin ClassicalSource Review

André Mathieu’s Piano Concerto No.3 & George Gershwin’s An American in Paris – Alain Lefèvre/Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta [Analekta]
(Four stars)

Reviewed by Colin Anderson

The connection between these composers is that both were also concert-standard pianists and they died young. André Mathieu (1929-68) was born in Montreal and precociously gifted, earning the nickname the “Mozart of Canada”. His Piano Concerto No.3 (1943), as recorded here for the first time, has had to be reconstructed – by Alain Lefèvre, Jacques Marchand and George Nicholson – for in 1946 the work was adapted, as Concerto de Quebec, for use in the film Whispering City.

The first of the three movements opens in arresting style, with roulades of romanticism for the pianist, the writing heroic, freewheeling and glittering, Lefèvre the equal of it. If the invention is derivative (Liszt, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky … the Golden Age of Hollywood) it is also inviting – tuneful, colourful, passionate. This Allegro moderato certainly ticks all the ‘Romantic Piano Concerto’ boxes and does so with ardour and pulsation, big gestures, brassy tuttis and sweeping strings, and not forgetting a barnstorming cadenza with some (welcome) gentler asides. The central Andante – the longest movement by several minutes (sixteen of them, out of thirty-seven) – is very expressive, tenderly affecting in its gently autumnal way, if with the occasional shadow and agitation, whereas the Finale struts proudly and with a happy-go-lucky main idea if with lyrical (a trumpet tune) and dramatic (declamatory heavy brass) diversions. It’s not a masterpiece, but the many attractions created by a very talented teenager were well-worth the act of resurrection by those concerned, and this world-premiere account of it is as brilliant and sensitive as it is dedicated.

The sound-quality is not so hot, mind, for the piano is a little disembodied for all its closeness and the orchestra somewhat distant, and rather mushy below forte. It’s a live performance, as is An American in Paris, and with the piano out of the way (as it were) the Buffalo Philharmonic now comes more into its own, displaying a vibrant profile for one of George Gershwin’s greatest achievements, not least in characterful cameos from trumpet, tuba, flute and violin, among others, and the saxophonists are enjoyably boastful. JoAnn Falletta leads a superb performance, full of zip, poise, affection and well-placed detail (subtle touches, such as trombone glissandos) – and in-tune car-horns – bustling, touchingly reflective and jazzy as required and it goes on my ‘library choice’ list for this imperishable score.

Click here for the original review.

The Poland tour: a 4332-mile overview

As of this writing, it’s seven weeks until the BPO leaves for its tour of Poland! This is the first international tour that the BPO has embarked on in 30 years, and the first time a full American orchestra has been invited to perform at the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw.

The first Ludwig van Beethoven Festival, founded by Elzbieta Penderecka, took place in January 1997. Its organizers officially formed the Ludwig Van Beethoven Association in 2003 in Krakow with the primary purpose to organize the annual Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival and promote classical music. The Association has an array of other activities, including the promotion and management of Polish concert artists.  Warsaw is the key venue for the festival, which now runs the two weeks leading up to Easter.

The Festival presents up to 50 events, solo recitals, chamber music and orchestral concerts, in numerous venues throughout the city featuring many of the world’s most famous artists. The list of orchestras and soloists appearing over its history represent a who’s who of the classical music world: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, National Radio Symphony of Poland, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchestra-Zurich, NDR Symphony-Hamburg, Lathi Symphony of Finland as well as artists such as Rudolf Buchbinder, Barry Douglas, Emerson String Quartet, Max Valdes, and Krzysztof Penderecki to name a few. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is honored to soon be added to this prestigious list!

With the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein in 2018, the Festival’s theme will honor his legacy. The BPO will perform a special American program including Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1, George Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F featuring the dynamic rising star Conrad Tao, and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. Also on the program is a piece by Poland’s beloved dean of composition, Krzysztof Penderecki’s Adagietto from Paradise Lost. The BPO is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, following Sunday’s opening concert with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Additional tour cities featuring the full orchestra include Wroclaw, Katowice and Lublin. A woodwind ensemble will perform and present master classes in Luslawice at the Krzysztof Penderecki Centre for European Music, and in Rzeszów, Buffalo’s sister city.

Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll have a lot more to share with you about the tour, so keep following this blog for the inside story on our trip!



BPO chamber orchestra to perform in area churches

Buffalo Philharmonic to perform chamber concerts in area churches

January 10, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact:Kate Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Buffalo, NY – For three engagements, a small group of BPO musicians are trading the concert hall for a more intimate setting.

BPO Concertmaster Dennis Kim is once again directing a small group of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra musicians in performance in Western New York churches.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra will visit Orchard Park Presbyterian Church at 4369 South Buffalo Street

on Wednesday, Jan. 31; Clarence Presbyterian Church at 9675 Main Street on Thursday, Feb. 1; and St. Stanislaus Church at 123 Townsend Street in Buffalo on Friday, Feb. 2. Each concert begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are available by calling (716) 885-5000 or visiting

The program features Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and Dvorak’s Serenade For Strings. The centerpiece of the concert is Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, featuring Kim and young violinist Alice Lee. Lee is the winner of the BPO’s inaugural Young Artist Violin Competition, which took place in June 2017. Eighteen-year-old Lee has been playing violin since she was 5, and has already performed with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and the Sooke Philharmonic. She is currently studying at the International Menuhin Music Academy in Switzerland.

Kim has organized chamber performances in Finland and in Asia while serving as concertmaster with orchestras there. He says that it’s a chance for him and his orchestral colleagues to stretch themselves and to connect with audiences in a different way.


“This music was written for intimate settings, which is why it’s the perfect program to present in Western New York churches. The Dvorak, and especially the Bach, work much better in a church setting. All of us are in this to connect people with music, especially people who have not come to the concert hall,” Dennis Kim said.  “If you talk to most classical musicians, you’ll find that they have a passion for chamber music. We work collaboratively to make this music, and there’s something so special about that. It’s never the same twice. We can’t wait to perform this program for Western New Yorkers.”


About the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

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 43 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

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Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra announces “Buffalo Sings Champion” contest

BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is looking for Buffalo’s top vocal talent.

The winner will perform “Over the Rainbow,” written by Buffalo native Harold Arlen, with the BPO at the “Buffalo Sings” concert on Saturday, April 14. Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell will lead the concert, which will feature some of the region’s top vocal ensembles.

The contest is open to anyone who is 14 or older and resides within a 60-mile radius of Buffalo. To enter, contestants must submit a video of themselves performing the song using the MIDI accompaniment available at, along with an application. Applications must be received by 11:59 PM on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Up to twenty finalists will be selected on Feb. 19 to face off in the live finals held in Kleinhans’ Mary Seaton Room on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. The Buffalo Sings champion will be selected that night. That event will be free and open to the public. All information is available at

Judges for the finals include Adam Luebke, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus music director; Mary Kate O’Connell, founder and artistic director of the musical theater company O’Connell and Company; Drea D’Nur, Buffalo-based recording artist and creator and star of the critically-acclaimed show “The Spirit of Nina”; and BPO Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell.

The “Buffalo Sings” concert is part of the KeyBank Pops Series, and is a tribute to the power and beauty of the human voice, as well as a way of recognizing the musicality within every person. There will be a chance for the audience members to raise their own voices at the end of the concert. To purchase tickets to this unique interactive concert experience, call (716) 885-5000 or visit


About the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

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 40 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

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Two musicians retire after a combined 102 years of service

This year’s Classical Christmas concerts brought some bittersweet news: the retirement of First Violin Marylouise Nanna and Principal Harp Suzanne Thomas.

Nanna and Thomas began their orchestral careers on Oct. 3, 1966, under Lukas Foss. Since then, they have performed with the BPO in Europe and at Carnegie Hall, appeared on more than 50 recordings, and worked with many of the leading musical artists of our times.

Marylouise Nanna is a native of Western New York, and currently lives in the house built by her grandparents. In addition to her achievements as a violinist, she is also a conductor and the founder of Ars Nova and Viva Vivaldi. She was the first woman to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra. For these achievements, she was inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame in 2012. She is also a recipient of Fulbright and Woodrow Wilson fellowships. She holds an honorary doctorate from Canisius College. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School and of Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome.

Thomas is originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Eastman School of Music, and studied at the Fontainebleu School in France. She was a featured soloist with the BPO several times in her career, including on Daron Hagen’s Songbook for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion, which appears on the best-selling Built For Buffalo disc. She is well-known for her roles as an educator and chamber musician in addition to her career with the BPO. She currently teaches at Canisius College, Buffalo State College, and Brock University. She is only the seventh person in the history of the BPO to serve as a full-time harpist.

Music Director JoAnn Falletta and Executive Director Dan Hart honored Nanna and Thomas from the stage at the Classical Christmas concerts on December 8 and 9, 2017. In his remarks, Hart noted that more than five million people had heard them perform over the years. After the Saturday night concert, their fellow musicians held a retirement party for them and presented them each with a gift. The BPO was fortunate to have their talent and dedication, and they will be missed very much.