The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming three concert Florida performances are as much about fundraising as friend-raising.
The orchestra will be performing on Feb. 7 in West Palm Beach, Feb. 9 in Vero Beach and Feb. 10 in Gainesville. The trip is the third Florida tour for the BPO in recent years and second in the past three years.
“It’s about getting the name of the BPO out there,” said Dan Hart, orchestra executive director.
To make the trip, the orchestra needed to raise $200,000, much of it from an effort led by current board member and Buffalo business leader John Yurtchuk and past BPO trustee and M&T Bank executive Donald Dussing. The orchestra is also receiving fees from the three venues where it will be performing.
“Financially, the trip will be a net benefit,” Hart said. “But there is an artistic component, the challenge for the orchestra to play in three very different halls.”
Performing pieces by Tchaikovsky and Brahms — both of which the centerpieces of the orchestra’s Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 concerts at Kleinhans Music Hall — is intended to increase the BPO’s following in Florida.
JoAnn Falletta, orchestra music director and principal conductor, said she and her fellow musicians love the challenge of playing in different venues outside of Kleinhans Music Hall.
“You have to consider the hall like an instrument,” Falletta said. “Playing in different halls, you hear things in a different way.”
Both Falletta and Hart agree that given the large number of people from Buffalo either living or spending the winter months in Florida, it makes sense to conduct the occasional tour of the Sunshine State.
This tour was generated by an invitation from the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. The orchestra played there two winters ago.
Hart said rather than play one Florida concert, additional bookings were made for Vero Beach’s Community Church and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The additional bookings help spread out the expenses of taking 75 musicians plus Falletta, associate conductor Stefan Sanders and guest violinist Chloe Hanslip on the tour. The BPO may have as many as eight staffers on the trip.
The Tchaikovsky and Brahms pieces, along with Paul Gay’s “Due Sorelle,” which is being performed in Buffalo and Vero Beach, are being recorded and will be released later this year on the orchestra’s Beau Fleuve label.
“Knowing we are recording these pieces, along with playing before different audiences, definitely puts us on our toes, and that’s a good thing,” Falletta said.