Author: Kate Mockler

John Yurtchuk to purchase and donate historic Clement Residence to the BPO

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the American Red Cross, Western New York Chapter, announced that local developer and philanthropist John Yurtchuk will purchase the property at 786 Delaware Avenue and will donate the campus centerpiece, the Clement Residence, to the BPO as a gift to the orchestra’s Crescendo Campaign. It will soon house both the Red Cross and BPO administrative staffs. This gesture ranks among the biggest and most creative donations in the history of the BPO.

“I am so pleased to be able to bring together and assist two major non-profit organizations that I’ve been close to for years.  I’m very happy to have found the ideal steward in the BPO for the iconic Clement Residence and to preserve this important part of Buffalo history.  Collaboration between non-profits is the wave of the future and this is a prime example of creative and strategic thinking by the leadership of both organizations,” John Yurtchuk said.

The 17,000 square foot building was designed by E.B. Greene and was built in 1912. It was given to the Red Cross in 1941 and has served as its local headquarters ever since. Under the terms of a lease agreement, the two organizations will essentially split the space, with the Red Cross occupying a portion of the first floor and the entire third floor while the BPO staff will occupy the second floor. The foyer and conference rooms on the main floor will be shared by the two organizations. Overall, the building will accommodate nearly 50 people across both organizations.

“The Board of the Western New York Chapter of the Red Cross is very happy to see this historic property purchased by a local philanthropist and donated to a local partner like the BPO. This will allow us to continue to be a resident in the building that was so generously donated by the Clement family to us, and be positioned to serve our many clients in the core of the city of Buffalo,” said Murray Covello, American Red Cross, Western New York Chapter Board Chair. “After review and consultation with the Board, the Clement family and other stakeholders we believe the sale of the entire property is the right decision that will position us for the long term. We look forward to working with the BPO and other tenants to make the campus a thriving hub in this community.”

By remaining in the building, the Red Cross continues to honor Carolyn Tripp Clement’s donation 75 years ago. This new collaboration also returns music to this historic building directly supporting the Clement family legacy.

“The recent news about ‘786,’ the former home of Carolyn Tripp Clement, is exciting indeed,” said Stephen M. Clement, III, Carolyn’s great-grandson. “As a Clement Trustee of the Western New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, I have followed closely the real estate transactions which have culminated in today’s announcement. I have communicated with over fifty relatives and descendants of our great grandmother. One cousin put it very well: ‘It sounds like a complete win-win-win for the Philharmonic, the Red Cross and for the family.'”

This move provides potential new revenue opportunities for the BPO. The Clement Residence was built for a very musical family. There is a stunning two-story music room that will once again be utilized for concerts with the BPO and other organizations which may host musical events in the space. The BPO looks forward to providing greater access to the community through concerts, events, tours of the historic building, and new benefits for its donors and subscribers.

“The BPO is grateful for this extraordinary gift from John and Carolyn Yurtchuk, who serve our community in many quiet and meaningful ways. The Clement Residence has significant value today and its value is likely to grow well into the future. This donation is transformative and addresses each of the Orchestra’s strategic priorities – finding new and innovative ways to connect with our community, continuing our artistic growth and development by showcasing our musicians, and strengthening our fiscal position while ensuring the organization is able to control of own destiny. We look forward to our stewardship of this historic building that has been part of Western New York for over 100 years,” said Stephen Swift, Chairman of the BPO Board.

About the BPO Crescendo Campaign:

The BPO is in the final phase of the Crescendo Campaign to increase its endowment past the $50 million mark and strengthen its annual operating budget.  Once complete, the BPO will operate under orchestra industry standards with an endowment five times its operating budget of $11 million. To make a gift or learn more information about the campaign, please contact Katie Bates Johnson, Crescendo Campaign Coordinator, at 716-242-7828 or, or visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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At annual meeting, Buffalo Philharmonic announces balanced budget, touts record-breaking season, honors partners, names new trustees and officers

BUFFALO, NY – On Sept. 12, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc. stakeholders gathered at Kleinhans Music Hall for its annual membership meeting to review the past season, to elect trustees, and to get updates on the state of the orchestra.

For the 2016-17 season, Treasurer Jim Beardi reported that the BPO broke records in ticket sales, subscriptions, and fundraising. Earned revenue hit an all-time high of $4.4 million, with season tickets accounting for $1.9 million. Fundraising brought the orchestra $4.3 million in contributed revenue, including a new record for the annual fund. Endowment income from increasing assets from the success of the Crescendo Campaign contributed a record $1.7 million and helped the organization achieve another balanced budget, the 12th in the past 13 years.

Executive Director Daniel Hart reported attendance of 210,000 people over the 38-week season, an increase of more than 20,000 from the 2015-16 season, and reported a total of 129 performances of the full orchestra and dozens by BPO musicians in the schools. The BPO education program was lauded as attendance passed the 50,000 mark.

Music Director JoAnn Falletta reflected on numerous artistic success and presented the first-ever “BPO Partner Awards” to several artistic partners. Irish Classical Theater Company collaborated with the orchestra on a successful three-concert performance of “Amadeus.” LehrerDance and the BPO presented “An American Siddhartha” on the UB campus, which fused dance, music and literature and brought the classic Herman Hesse novel to a new generation. A two-year collaboration with Projex and the Richardson Olmsted Campus bore fruit in the landmark “enLIGHTen Buffalo” concert on the grounds of the Campus. The board recognized Vincent O’Neill and Fortunato Pezzimenti of Irish Classical Theatre Company, Jon Lehrer of Lehrer Dance, and Keith Harrington of Projex and Corey Fabian Borenstein of the Richardson Olmsted Campus.

Members also heard presentations from Otis Glover, co-chair of the new BPO Diversity Council, BPO bassoonist and Trustee Martha Malkiewicz, and Carl Klingenschmitt on the activities of the Friends of the BPO.

Alex Montante and Robin Schulze, PhD were elected to three-year terms as trustees. Montante has extensive experience in non-profit board service, including a stint as president of the Junior League of Buffalo. She also serves on the boards of the Western New York Women’s Foundation, Nichols School, and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. Schulze is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at UB, and is also a former professional harpist who studied at Eastman School of Music.

Trustee Nicole Tzetzo reported the election of officers for the 17-18 season, including Stephen Swift, Chair, Ange Fatta, Vice Chair, and Jim Beardi, Treasurer. Scott Stenclik was named Secretary, and John Yurtchuk became an additional Vice Chair. Cynthia Zane, Doug Bean, and Cindy Abbott Letro were each elected to a second three-year term. BPO French hornist Daniel Sweeley and BPO bassist Jonathan Borden took over as musician representatives from violinist Megan Prokes and trombonist Tim Smith.

Board Chair Stephen Swift honored outgoing secretary and board member Nicole Tzetzo. Tzetzo served on the board for 11 years, most recently holding the position of secretary, and is now Executive Vice President for the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation.

Director of Sales and Patron Service Mike Giambra was honored for his service to the orchestra as he moves from full to part-time status. Giambra joined the BPO staff in 1999 and oversaw the development and implementation of many of the orchestra’s signature sales promotions.

“The successes we’ve had over the past season really speak to the success of the broader Western New York community,” said Swift. “The BPO is proud to be a driving force in the revitalization of the region. We continue to strive towards fulfilling our strategic priorities of growing our audience, developing and growing artistically, and operating with excellence and fiscal responsibility. We have a clear strategy that works and leverages the talent available to us, ensuring that we can serve this community for many decades 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 40 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

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Artistically and financially, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra had a sound year, James Fink, Buffalo Business First

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has struck a chord both artistically and financially with its supporters.

In its just-completed fiscal year, the orchestra saw attendance increase by more than 11.5 percent to a record 212,114 people attending at least one of its 129 performances. Financially, the BPO finished slightly in the black.

“It was a fantastic year for so many reasons,” said Dan Hart, executive director.

The orchestra finished its 2016-2017 fiscal year, which ended on Aug. 31, with $11.6 million in revenues and almost the same amount in expenses.

“We finished with a very slight surplus,” said Stephen Smith, chairman of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society board of trustees.

Including revenues, endowment, pledges and assets from its ongoing Crescendo fund raising campaign, the orchestra has approximately $40 million in assets and on its way to reaching a $50 million in total assets goal — roughly five times its annual budget.

“We’re well on our way,” said James Beardi, board of trustees treasurer. “We continue to manage our expenses well.”

Smith said the board’s goal continues to focus on growing the orchestra’s audience, “developing and growing artistically” and operate in a fiscally responsible manner.

The orchestra generated $4.3 million, which accounted for 37 percent of its $11.6 million total revenues. Earned revenue topped off at $4.4 million, or 38 percent, of the total revenue.

Government and public contributions accounted for $1.15 million, or 10 percent, of the orchestra’s revenues while endowment income was $1.75 million, or 15 percent of the total 2016-2017 revenues.

On the expense side, the largest was $7.2 million allocated for paying the orchestra, its guest artists and visiting conductors. That accounted for 62 percent of the orchestra’s $11.6 million in expenses.

Of its 129 performances, spread over a negotiated 38-week season with the musicians, 38 were traditional classics concerts, 26 were rock or Pops series shows, six were family concerts, 32 were education programs for school children from kindergarten to high schoolers and 12 each with summer or “tour” concerts.

The classics attracted 45,617 music lovers while the rock or Pops concerts drew 43,125 patrons.

Education shows attracted 51,573 students.

“Consider in 2004, we had just 14,000 students attend one of those shows, it demonstrates how we’ve grown with our outreach,” Hart said.

The summer shows attracted 55,335 including large crowds at a June 30 Canalside show and the July 28 “Enlighten” concert at the Hotel Henry.

“Taken together, it shows how we continue to evolve and play an important role in the community,” Hart said.

Plan to donate Clement Mansion will give BPO, Red Cross shared home, Jonathan Epstein, Buffalo News

After several years of uncertainty, the Buffalo chapter of the American Red Cross can now rest assured it will be staying indefinitely in its Delaware Avenue home – along with some musical accompaniment.

John Yurtchuk, a developer and former chairman of the regional Red Cross chapter, is buying the prominent Clement Mansion from the nonprofit he used to lead.

In a surprise move, Yurtchuk will split the property and donate the historic mansion to the Crescendo Campaign for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he is also a board member. The BPO will occupy part of the building for its administrative offices and will lease the rest to the Red Cross.

“What a great address for both the BPO and the Red Cross, and I couldn’t think of a better caretaker for a part of Buffalo’s history,” said Yurtchuk, owner of Matrix Development Corp. “I thought the building was an iconic representation of philanthropy. … I hope they’ll both stay there forever and keep the legacy going.”

The highly complicated but carefully orchestrated transaction – which represents one of the biggest donations in the BPO’s history – will be announced from the stage at the orchestra’s opening performance on Saturday night.

“It’s a transformational gift for the BPO,” said Executive Director Daniel Hart. “This is an iconic Buffalo building… It’s a dream scenario for us.”

The developer’s gift, which he valued at $2.5 million, continues a legacy that began when Carolyn Tripp Clement first donated the 17,000-square-foot mansion to the Red Cross in 1941. The nonprofit has been occupying the building ever since, but no longer uses the entire building, let alone the rest of the property.

“We are very proud to still be able to have a presence in the City of Buffalo, to be able to continue to honor this gift that was made 76 years ago,” said Jay Bonafede, spokesman for the Western New York Region of the American Red Cross.

As for the rest of the site, Yurtchuk will split off the mansion and front lawn on Delaware from the back of the sprawling property, which includes the main parking lot and three larger buildings. He hopes to redevelop that complex for office, medical or other commercial tenants. He is also considering developing it as a nonprofit campus or incubator, in partnership with the Oishei Foundation.

“I’ll look to repurpose those,” Yurtchuk said. “I’m open to what options might be appropriate for that rear building.”

Yurtchuk would not disclose the purchase price for the entire four-acre property.

The purchase is expected to close in mid-October, when the BPO will take over and move in. At that time, the Red Cross will shift to the third floor, while the orchestra occupies the second floor and some mezzanine space. The first floor includes three conference rooms that will be shared, as well as a couple of additional offices that the Red Cross will retain. Between the two agencies, about 50 people will work in the mansion, and the organizations will also share the basement storage.

The developer is not putting any restrictions on the property, which he said he must legally own for 366 days prior to the donation, for tax reasons. The orchestra will not have any mortgage, saving them significant money over the rent they now pay for leased space on the second-floor of 499 Franklin St., at Allen Street. And the Red Cross will pay a lower rent than the mortgage it now has, reducing its own costs, Yurtchuk said.

Yurtchuk has arranged for engineering firm EFS to manage the property for the BPO. The firm, based in Cheektowaga, manages Yurtchuk’s Dent Tower in Amherst, as well as the Saturn Club and the Darwin Martin House.

He’s also seeking approval from the Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals and Buffalo Planning Board, including permission to formally subdivide the property into two pieces. The front portion that will be donated, with 1.15 acres, will include the mansion and front lawn along Delaware. The rear property, with 2.848 acres, will contain the two-story office building in back, as well as a carriage house and the parking lot. That’s what Yurtchuk will keep.

The two-story building, along with an adjoining structure connected by an atrium, total 53,500 square feet of space. Built in 1979, it was formerly the Red Cross’ Blood Services building, but is now completely empty and “needs to be repurposed,” Yurtchuk said. The one-story carriage house, which used to have a tennis court and smoking room, is “completely dormant” and would have to be gutted, he added.

It’s that rear portion that could become a home for nonprofits, following a model used in other cities. Yurtchuk said Oishei is looking at that option to support other agencies, but has not made any commitments.

“If that’s something they want to pursue, I’m happy to work with them,” Yurtchuk said. “I’m just keeping all of the options open.”

The Clement Mansion, at 786 Delaware Ave. just north of Bryant Street, was designed by prominent architect E.B. Green and built in 1912. It served as the family home for 37 years, hosting social functions, musical performances and other gatherings of leading city figures.

The house included a two-story “music room” on the first floor – now one of the meeting spaces – that once housed two concert pianos and a pipe organ. Carolyn Clement was classically trained, and both Clement sisters played. BPO musicians even performed at the house.

That makes the BPO’s new presence even more fitting, Yurtchuk noted. Indeed, Hart said the orchestra hopes to make use of it.

“We’re hoping to return to public performances in a small intimate setting,” Hart said. “It’s going to be much more than just another office space for the BPO. It’s just exciting.”

The purchase resolves questions about the property’s future, which arose after the Red Cross put it up for sale two years ago after its national parent directed all chapters to sell their real estate. The agency tried to sell to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, which had proposed a shared campus for nonprofits, but that idea fell through.

That’s when Yurtchuk became involved, when Red Cross officials contacted him for advice on a sale. Coincidentally, Hart also called him, because the BPO wanted to find new space that stood out and fit its mission. The orchestra takes care of Kleinhans Music Hall, but the building is owned by the city.

“He came up with this idea on his own. He took us by surprise when he offered to buy it and give it to us,” Hart said. “We can’t thank him enough for this great opportunity.”

Buffalo Philharmonic starts season with glamour and panache

BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Philharmonic’s 2017-18 season celebrates American ingenuity while honoring the European roots of the classical tradition.

The season begins on Sept. 16 with a performance starring eminent violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Mutter rarely performs in North America, and has not performed with the BPO since 1988. She will play Tchaikovsky’s sole violin concerto on a program which opens with the Austro-Hungarian flair of Brahms, Weiner and Schmidt. JoAnn Falletta will conduct.

The evening also includes the BPO’s annual Gala. The Mary Seaton Room will be professionally decorated for pre-concert cocktails, appetizers and dinner catered by Oliver’s. Gala guests will receive premium seating for the concert, and attend a post-concert dessert reception. The Gala is sponsored by the Louis P. Ciminelli Family Foundation. Proceeds benefit the award-winning education programs of the BPO.

The KeyBank Pops Series gets underway on Sept. 23. Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell is on the podium for Disney Fantasia Live in Concert. The BPO provides the music, while iconic scenes from “Fantasia” and “Fantasia 2000” play on-screen. JMR steps into the role of Leopold Stockowski, introducing each piece with his customary wit and energy. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “The Firebird,” and Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies are among the pieces featured. A terrific way to introduce young people to the orchestra, a family four-pack is available for $119.

From George Gershwin’s blend of jazz and classical to the minimalism of Phillip Glass, American music is always fresh and innovative. The BPO celebrates that spirit by kicking off the M&T Bank Classics Series with a two-week American Masters festival. On Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, Gershwin’s Rhapsody features pianist Charlie Albright, a young performer/composer/educator who exemplifies this spirit, to perform Gershwin’s iconic “Rhapsody in Blue.” Ferde Grofé burst on to the American music scene as the orchestrator of “Rhapsody in Blue.” His success inspired him to finish his own tone poem, “Grand Canyon Suite,” also featured in this concert. Short pieces by John Adams and Duke Ellington complete the program. There is no performance on Sept. 30 in recognition of Yom Kippur.

BPO concertmaster Dennis Kim is in the spotlight for the festival’s second week, Copland’s Fanfare, performing Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto No. 1. Glass’ music is heard in unexpected places: in addition to his operas, symphonies, concertos and chamber works, he composed the music for “The Truman Show” and “The Hours” and for American Express, Verizon and the Super Bowl. Falletta likened this concerto to a rock song. This year, the world is celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, and the BPO is participating by including Three Dances from “On The Town” on this program. Paired with Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3, which includes his famous “Fanfare for the Common Man,” this program embodies the nation’s post-World War II optimism.

“Very often, I conduct in Europe, and I’m asked to bring American music there,” Falletta said about the festival. “Witnessing how audiences in England, Germany and Spain love American music makes me realize we have so much to be proud of.”

On Oct. 3, at 7 PM, the BPO celebrates the Colored Musicians Club centennial in a Know The Score concert. This series offers a closer look at the story behind the music.The Club has hosted jazz greats such as including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, and Lionel Hampton. Today, the Club is a designated local landmark, and the oldest of its kind in the nation. The George Scott Big Band performs front-and-center with the BPO in a concert that tells the tale of this Buffalo icon through music, words and images. Stefan Sanders will conduct, and the audience is invited to a post-concert party, with more from the George Scott Big Band.

When the news broke that Bill Murray was coming to town with a chamber group, everyone thought it was a hoax. But it’s happening on Oct. 11. Joined by cellist Jan Vogler, pianist Vanessa Perez and violinist Mira Wang, the innovative “New Worlds” program sees Murray reading Whitman and Twain and singing Gershwin to illuminate the ties between great American authors and composers, and explore how they reinvented European traditions in music and literature to create a wholly American aesthetic. The string trio will provide the soundtrack with works by Schubert, Bach and Piazzolla.

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. All events take place at Kleinhans Music Hall.

For the first time in decades, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians meets in Buffalo

For Immediate Release
Contact:Kate Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
BUFFALO, NY – When the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians last met in Buffalo, Jimmy Griffin was the mayor, and the Buffalo Sabres still played at the Aud.
The organization representing the top 52 orchestras in the nation hasn’t held their conference here since 1988. But thanks to the efforts of Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra French horn Daniel Sweeley, who sits on the national board and serves as the BPO’s delegate to the organization, ICSOM is meeting at the Adam’s Mark Hotel from August 22-26.
Each member orchestra will send at least one representative to the conference, and other leading figures in the industry are expected to attend. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta will speak on one of the panel discussions, as will BPO tuba Don Harry. Discussion topics will include diversity in the workplace, pension concerns, negotiating healthcare, and crafting community relations program for musicians. There will be a talk on orchestra stability from those coming back from near extinction and those that have avoided it. Overall, 110 people are expected to attend.
The event will also include a volunteer service involving the BPO Kids for Exceptional Kids program taking place at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. The BPO Kids for Exceptional Kids program has served children with special needs for several seasons, and is an integral part of each BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids concert. The program offers noise-cancelling headphones, quiet pre-concert activities, and seating near exits so that children with sensory sensitivities or similar issues can better experience the concert. ICSOM delegates will perform for the families in this program in an informal environment, and offer an instrument demonstration. The media is invited to attend this event.
“Much has changed in our city and our orchestra since 1988, and I’m happy to showcase both. It was a natural choice to hold the conference downtown so our guests can enjoy Canalside and the many wonderful restaurants. The guests will enjoy an outing to Niagara Falls during the week. I’m grateful for the financial support both from the BPO and the American Federation of Musicians local #92,” Sweeley said.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is a founding member of ICSOM. ICSOM’s mission is to promote a better and more rewarding livelihood for the skilled orchestral performer and to enrich the cultural life of our society. The BPO and American Federation of Musicians Local 92 are serving as hosts, with BPO Associate Librarian Travis Hendra as conference coordinator.


Tickets for all Buffalo Philharmonic concerts on sale Aug. 12

BUFFALO, NY – Disney’s Fantasia Live in Concert, the BPO debut of Traffic’s Dave Mason, and the chance to experience the epic Carmina Burana live are just a few of the exciting moments planned for the BPO’s 2017-18 season.

Superstar violinist opens season

The season begins with its traditionally glamorous gala opening on Saturday, Sept. 16. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, one of today’s most respected classical musicians, is performing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time since 1989 in a rare North American tour. JoAnn Falletta will conduct her performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The Gala Concert Package also includes a pre-concert dinner catered by Oliver’s, premium seats for the concert, and a post-concert dessert reception. Funds raised at the Gala support the BPO’s award-winning educational programs. For the full package, call (716) 242-7928.

M&T Bank Classic Series

Both the M&T Bank Classics Series and the KeyBank Pops Series will celebrate the best of American music, coinciding with the international centennial celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. The Classics Series gets underway with a two-week American Masters Festival on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, and Oct. 7 and 8, including music by Bernstein, Ellington and Copland, as well as Phillip Glass’ Violin Concerto performed by concertmaster Dennis Kim, and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” performed by Charlie Albright.

On Oct. 21 and 22, trailblazing bassist Victor Wooten will perform “The Bass Whisperer: Concerto for Electric Bass,” which he wrote with renowned composer Conni Ellisor. Wooten is a founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and has won five Grammy Awards. This all-American work will be paired with two Russian classics, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from “Prince Igor” and Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky.”

Other series highlights include Debussy’s “La Mer,” conducted by former BPO music director Maximiano Valdes; Ravel’s “Bolero,” “Scheherazade” conducted by JoAnn Falletta;Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story;” Respighi’s Fountains and Pines of Rome; and a multimedia exploration of the American immigrant experience with Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” and Peter Boyer’s “Ellis Island,” featuring actors from Road Less Traveled Productions and images projected on a screen above the orchestra. The epic Carmina Buranawith the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and soloists is paired with a new concerto by Jaakko Kuusisto written for the BPO’s principal trumpet Alex Jokipii.
KeyBank Pops Series

The series kicks off Sept. 23 with Disney’s Fantasia Live in Concert, including animation and music from both the classic “Fantasia” and “Fantasia 2000.” John Morris Russell steps into the roles pioneered by Leopold Stokowski and James Levine, conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic in his own inimitable style.

Russell will return throughout the season to conduct a Halloween-themed Cirque de la Symphonie show; four Holiday Pops performances with the music and images from “The Polar Express;” A Night at the Oscars – including a red carpet experience and post-concert Oscar party; and Buffalo Sings, starring the area’s premier vocal groups and featuring the debut of the BPO’s “Buffalo Sings” champion. Details on the search and auditions for this singer will be announced soon.

The Pops season also includes a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration with Rochester-based Mambo Kings; the Neil Diamond tribute show Super Diamond; the return of the Glenn Miller Orchestra; A Night at the Cotton Club with Byron Stripling; a celebration of piano rock and jazz with Tony DeSare; and Fire and Rain, a tribute to the singer-songwriters of the 1970s featuring AJ Swearingen, who filled Kleinhans last season with a tribute to Simon and Garfunkel, and Jayne Kelly.
BPO Rocks

The Buffalo Philharmonic has a national reputation for its innovative work in the rock genre. Working with artists like Alan Parsons and Steve Hackett, creating original shows for Canalside, and presenting top-flight tribute bands are hallmarks of BPO Rocks. This season, Rock And Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason makes his BPO debut with a show featuring both his work with Traffic and music from his long and successful solo career. The seriesleads off with “Just Imagine,” a multimedia John Lennon experience. Windborne Music returns with The Music of The Doors, and Brass Transit joins the BPO with their superb tribute to the music of Chicago. All concerts include rock show lighting and a full band for a complete experience.

Holidays at the BPO

The BPO delivers a magical holiday season through four very different concerts. On Dec. 6, the Irish Tenors (Ronan Tynan, Finbar Wright and Anthony Kearns) bring their holiday tour to the BPO. Dec. 8 and 9 are all about the classical tradition, with JoAnn’s Classical Christmas featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and soprano Aundi Moore. Santa Claus himself is the star of the show at Jingle Bell Jam on Dec. 10, sharing his story through music with the BPO’s youngest fans. And of course, Mr. Christmas himself is back for John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops on Dec. 15, 16 and 17.

Know the Score

The series that takes you inside the music is back. On Oct. 3, the Colored Musicians Club joins the BPO for a centennial celebration. When jazz was the new genre on the scene, everyone who was anyone came to Buffalo and performed at the Colored Musicians Club. This show celebrates its history through the music of luminaries like Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, and Al Tinney. The George Scott Big Band will be front and center with the orchestra and will also perform at a post-concert party.

The BPO has presented Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 many times before, but never the way it will be presented on Jan. 17. The concerto is dedicated to Rachmaninoff’s psychiatrist, who helped him through a deep depression and serious writer’s block. Pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan will recount this tale and perform the dramatic and challenging work.

Other season highlights

When tickets for “Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends: New Worlds” went on sale in June, the demand crashed the BPO’s website. Yet, tickets are still available for this performance, taking place on Oct. 11. Murray and Vogler developed the performance together to blend literature and music. Murray will recite Whitman, Hemingway, and Twain while a trio of internationally acclaimed musicians provides a soundtrack of Schubert, Bach and Piazzolla.

2018 will also see the return of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition from June 6-9. This event is a collaboration between the BPO and WNED. It brings eight rising classical guitar stars to Western New York from around the world for a week of music and excitement. The finals take place on June 9 at Kleinhans.

BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids

For five afternoons, kids take over Kleinhans for music and fun. The Oct. 29 Halloween concert will be extra-special this year, with a performance by Cirque de la Symphonie. The genre-bending Project Trio performs with the BPO on Feb. 4, with their signature blend of jazz, rock, classical, and hip-hop. Peter and the Wolf takes you up close and personal with each instrument in the orchestra on March 4, and kids are the center of the action in Buffalo Kids Sing on April 15. Pre-concert activities get the wiggles out and the creative juices flowing starting at 1:30 PM.

Subscriptions and student tickets available

Tickets to all BPO concerts go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11.

Subscribing to the BPO is always your best value, and subscribers receive a number of additional benefits, including opportunities to meet the members of the BPO. Concert packages are available in many sizes, with pricing to fit all budgets. Flex passes are also available to provide the greatest flexibility to decide on concerts now or later. First time subscribers save up to 50 percent off the single ticket price.

College students with valid ID can purchase a season pass for $29, allowing them to attend all concerts in the M&T Bank Classics Series, KeyBank Pops Series and Know the Score. High school students can join Symphony Scholars for $35 and receive a season pass, attend special events and enjoy extra perks. High school and college students may purchase tickets for individual concerts for just $11. More information is available at

To subscribe or purchase individual tickets, contact the BPO at (716) 885-5000, visit, or stop by the box office at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
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


With library naming, BPO extols its unsung heroes, Nick Lippa, WBFO

There are unseen heroes in the orchestra family. Some of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s heroes work in the basement of Kleinhans Music Hall, but now they are being brought out into the light.

The BPO has named its music library after Bradford Lewis following a substantial gift to the orchestra.

“Without classical music, I wouldn’t be sane. I’ll just put it that way. It’s that important,” said Lewis.

Lewis has been a subscriber to the BPO since 1969 and has seen how far it has come.

“When I was on the board with the orchestra from 1990 to 1995, and in those days in virtually every board meeting the head financial person would get up and say, ‘You realize we are not a going concern. You realize how bad this is.’ It was perpetual doom and gloom,” said Lewis

“It’s a totally different world today. I think the reason for that, number one is [Music Director] JoAnn [Falletta]. Unquestionably, in my mind, she is the finest music director we have ever had. She has done absolute miracles for this orchestra. She has brought us a worldwide reputation.”

Lewis said a team effort is what has propelled the BPO ahead in recent years, emphasizing the impact of Executive Director Dan Hart.

“That combination that she’s formed with Dan has really given us a very strong financial organization for the first time. You are really feeling, ‘We’re not in trouble. We can breathe this week.’ It’s a very rare feeling,” said Lewis.

But it takes more than just a conductor and players to make an orchestra work. Lewis knows this firsthand having spent 15 years volunteering with the music collection at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. He said the BPO’s two full time librarians, Patricia Kimball and Travis Hendra, are people who make the orchestra go.

“The music library down here is one of our nerve centers of the orchestra. It’s really important. Without our librarians, we wouldn’t be on stage,” said Hart.

Falletta said her job wouldn’t be possible without their efforts.

“Literally, nothing could happen on this stage without our librarians. Nothing,” said Falletta. “They are the curators of thousands of pieces that get played every year. Every single piece of music is vetted by these two. Even with our propensity for doing unusual repertoire, their roles are usually difficult. I could not do my job at the BPO, nor could any of the musicians without Travis or Pat.”

“I am so grateful to Brad,” added Falletta. “We have been good friends for a long time. That friendship is based upon our musical passion for music. It has always been incredible to have conversations with him, so it seems appropriate that he is making a special gift to endow, as Dan said, the central nervous system of this orchestra.”

What the librarian job entails may be more involved than most would think.

“Basically, we are responsible for the entire collection owned by the orchestra,” said Kimball. “We are responsible for every piece of music that goes on stage for the orchestra to perform. When I talk responsibility, I mean the care of the materials, but also the preparation of those materials for performance.”

“It’s very rare anymore that we ever do a concert front to back where we just sit down and play some music and go home,” said Hendra. “A lot of times we are adding visual elements or we’re adding a dance component or some other some other extra musical component. All those details have to be sorted out ahead of time. A lot of times we will take the lead with other members of the operations department to sort out those details. If a piece of music is under copyright, we will have to work with the copyright holder to gain permission to do that. To add any extra visual element. To make sure we’re legal.”

Kimball has been working with the orchestra for 31 seasons and has witnessed its growth.

“Our library has grown. During those years, if we were doing a run out concert to a local church or a family concert, a kids concert, we’d say, ‘Here’s a list of what’s in the library to the conductor. Use this music. We can’t rent or buy anything.’ So we had a lot of repetition. Many of the musicians would say, ‘Are we playing that again?’”

Hendra said the library has several works that are rare and hard to replace. It’s their job to make sure they stay in proper shape.

“Our set to Lohengrin to the overture of Act III has the Toscanini ending in it,” said Hendra. “A previous librarian who wrote out the Toscanini ending, it just elongates the ending by about 6 or 8 measures. It ends it more with a bang. Our parts have that. It’s not in Toscanini’s hand, but it’s not something we can easily replace. That’s something we would have to replicate in order to make that happen. So it’s just easier to play those old parts.”

In an age where everything seems to be going digital, physical copies of music still reign supreme in the orchestra world.

“We still have people in the orchestra who don’t own a computer,” said Hendra. “There’s something very magical about a piece of paper. I know it sounds really lame, but it’s really low-tech. If it falls off the stand you pick it up. If a page rips you tape it. It doesn’t need an instruction manual, it doesn’t need batteries.”

“And it can’t be hacked,” Lewis added. Hendra enthusiastically replied, “Well it can be! But in our own unique way with tape and paste.”

Lewis’ contribution will be used in any way that can help the orchestra as a whole, but overall it helps sustain a strong classical presence here in Buffalo. When together in the same room, it is easy to see how they all share similar visions.

“It helps keep the organization healthy,” said Kimball. “That’s the best thing that we could ask for.”

“We can keep pushing the boundaries of what we’re going to do as an organization, “said Hendra. “We can keep trying to make special events and once in a lifetime performances that we otherwise couldn’t do.”

“I’d love if we could add two more violas and a double bass,” Lewis added.  Everyone in the room laughed as Hendra added, “You and the orchestra would love it!”

Being recognized is nice, but for Lewis it is about keeping music alive through community support. In addition to his involvement with the BPO, he is a longtime listener and member of Classical 94.5 WNED. He sees similarities in each for how funding is accomplished.

“It was really wonderful when WNED finally came on the air in ’77. It just made all the difference in the world. I think anybody who listens regularly should be a supporter,” said Lewis. “The more of you who are supporting, the healthier the organization is going to be. It’s not some kind of an elite mechanism for people who get together at the back room at the Saturn club and say, ‘Let’s each chip in $100,000 and keep it on the air.’ Those days are gone. Orchestras can’t be funded that way anymore and WNED can’t be funded that way anymore. It’s got to be community-based.”

Hendra points out the intimate relationship the classical community now has with their audience in Buffalo.

“In a lot of other cities, there’s a greater corporate network to rely on those sorts of things,” said Hendra. “We don’t have that network in place. It’s much more important for us to rely on our community and our smaller donors and really make connections with people because then everyone can take ownership with what we do.”

At the end of the day, hearing the music thrive is all that Lewis wants.

“The only reason that (name on the door) ended up was that they gave me several alternatives which involved getting up on a stage, and I said no,” Lewis said, to laughter.

“So this was about the last alternative and they said the library is down in the basement. I said, but nobody is going to see it except the staff and musicians who work there right? And they said fine. I said that’s good. That’s what’s important. Knowing the people who make the orchestra go are the people who benefit the most and if they recognize my name on the door that’s good.”

This contribution is part of the BPO’s Crescendo Campaign which began in 2014. The goal is to increase the orchestra’s endowment to provide a stable, renewable source of income for the organization. The campaign has currently raised $27 million of its $30 million goal.

Congrats to our long-serving musicians!

On June 3, 2017, we honored four musicians who were celebrating an anniversary with the orchestra.

Cellist Robbie Hausmann joined the BPO in 1982 under Julius Rudel. He is one of only a few musicians in the orchestra who are native Western New Yorkers. He studied at Juilliard and at Eastman, and serves as associate director of the Buffalo Chamber Music Society. He also has a strong interest in lesser-known Jewish composers, and has presented recitals in collaboration with pianist Alfred Frenning for 20 years.

Violinist Robert Prokes joined the BPO in 1982 under Julius Rudel. He attended Wichita State University and studied with legendary violin teacher Sally Thomas post-graduate. He grew up in a musical family, and replicated that as an adult: his wife Patricia teaches at City Honors and the Buffalo Montessori School, and his daughter Megan is also in the BPO violin section, while his other daughter Tea is Associate Concertmaster at Toledo Symphony and a first-call substitute for the BPO. He maintains a private chamber studio and gathers with friends to play chamber music regularly.

Violinist Alan Ross rounds out the “class of 1982,” having also joined under Julius Rudel. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Music,  the Philadelphia Music Academy and the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Prior to his tenure in Buffalo, he lived in Venezuela for three and a half years, and played in two different orchestras during that time.  He taught at Eastman and SUNY Fredonia, and now teaches out of his home. He spends a great deal of his free time with his two grown children and his two grandchildren, all of whom have settled in the area.

Violist Matthew Phillips joined the BPO in 1997 under Maximiano Valdes. Phillips also grew up in Western New York. He studied at Cleveland Institute of Music and The New England Conservatory, and was a finalist in the 1992 William Primrose International Viola Competition. He is married to Rachel Kregal, whom he met while they were both students playing in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. Phillips is an avid runner, and has qualified twice for the Boston Marathon. In 2007, he was the second place age group winner in the Buffalo News Runner of the Year race series.

Comedy legend Bill Murray & cellist Jan Vogler bring collaboration to Kleinhans


Tickets on sale June 9, 10 AM

BUFFALO, NY – Bill Murray’s fans know to expect the unexpected from the multifaceted comedian and actor.

Murray became famous on “Saturday Night Live,” and cemented his reputation with blockbuster comedies like “Ghostbusters,” “What About Bob,” and “Groundhog Day.” In recent years, he’s become equally as well-known for his serious work in films like “Lost in Translation” and “Broken Flowers;” for his passions for baseball and poetry; and for delighting his fans with surprise encounters. But it was a surprise encounter of his own that led Murray to venture into classical music.

Four years ago, Murray was seated across from cellist Jan Vogler on a transatlantic flight. The two men struck up a conversation, and then a friendship. They bonded over a shared love of poetry, and decided to embark on an artistic collaboration.

On October 11, Murray and Vogler bring “New Worlds” to Kleinhans Music Hall. The simple title speaks to both the project’s origins as a collaboration between two different artistic worlds, and to the theme of the project itself.

“New Worlds” uses chamber music performed by Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez and literary readings by Murray to communicate America’s core values. The program seeks to illuminate the ties between great American authors and composers, and explores how they reinvented European traditions in music and literature to create a wholly American aesthetic.

Jan Vogler began his career as principal cellist of the Staatskapelle Dresden, and left to focus on solo work. He has been Artistic Director of the Moritzburg Festival near Dresden since 2001. In 2006, he received the European Award for Culture and in 2011 the Erich-Kästner Award for tolerance, humanity and international understanding. Vogler plays the 1707 ex-Castelbarco/Fau Stradivarius cello. Violinist Mira Wang, a native of China, is the winner of the International Violin Competition in Geneva and the First Prize of the International Violin Competition in New Zealand. She gave the premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s “Duo Concerto” on three continents in two months, and is featured on multiple recordings for Sony Classical and Berlin. She and Vogler are married and are at home in New York City with their two children. Venezuelan pianist Vanessa Perez holds degrees from the Royal Academy of Music and Yale University, and has released a number of solo and collaborative discs. In addition to her thriving chamber and recital career, she was also seen on the Amazon TV show “Mozart in the Jungle” last December.

The project premiered on June 4 at the Dresden Festival in Germany, and makes its United States debut on July 20 at the Festival Napa Valley in California before heading east to Chicago, Toronto and New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Their Buffalo stop takes place on October 11 at 8 p.m. in the Main Hall at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo. The BPO is not part of this performance. Tickets range from $59 to $99. A limited-availability Platinum VIP package is available for $250, and includes premium seating, a poster, and an exclusive meet-and-greet. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, June 9 and are available online at, over the phone at (716) 885-5000, or in person at the Kleinhans box office.