Category: BPO in the News

New Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra recording features works custom-made for the Nickel City

BUFFALO, NY — The follow-up to 2015’s ultra-popular “Built For Buffalo” recording is here.

“Built For Buffalo 2” is now available through the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra box office and website. Released on the BPO’s house label, Beau Fleuve, and recorded over four years, it features the world premiere recordings of three pieces commissioned for BPO musicians.

Reflecting on the music, all of which she conducted, BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta said “The works are a fascinating reflection of the individual personalities of the soloists — composed to mirror their characters and their very special musicianship. The CD features the musicians as stars as they step to the front of the stage.”

Jaakko Kuusisto’s Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra was composed for BPO Principal Trumpet Alex Jokipii and commissioned by the Marquette Symphony Orchestra in honor of Finland’s centennial celebration. Finnish-American philanthropists John and Pauline Kiltinen funded the project. Jokipii spent a year studying at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and became acquainted with fellow student Kuusisto there. The two men reconnected in 2015 when Kuusisto came to the BPO for the American premiere of his violin concerto, and the idea for the trumpet concerto was born. In May 2018, Jokipii and the BPO gave the Buffalo premiere of the piece.

Kuusisto is a renowned composer, arranger, conductor and violinist. He has composed more than 40 works, including two operas and served as concertmaster of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2012. Jokipii has been the BPO’s Principal Trumpet since 1998 and is on the performance faculty at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He has performed as soloist with the BPO, and has also served as guest principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic and other distinguished orchestras.

Robert Deemer’s “Vox Humana” for English horn, Soprano and Orchestra was first performed at Canisius College in 2016. Deemer is head of composition in the school of music at the State University of New York at Fredonia. He wrote “Vox Humana” in response to the international refugee crisis. The title is a reference to an obsolete instrument related to the English horn, to the inclusion of a soprano, and to the voice of humanity.

Anna Mattix is the featured BPO soloist on the piece. Since 2007, she has served as the orchestra’s oboe/English hornist. Prior to her tenure at the BPO, she was principal oboe with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and English horn with the Owensboro Philharmonic. Her 2014 performance of Jean Sibelius’ “The Swan of Tuonela” was also recorded for the BPO’s Beau Fleuve label. Brooklyn-based Canadian soprano Danielle Buonaiuto also performs on the piece. Buonaiuto specializes in art song and new music. She has received grants from New Music USA, Peabody Conservatory, and has held fellowships at the Lucerne Festival, Bang on a Can at Mass MOCA, and Avaloch Farm Music Institute.

Caroline Mallonee’s “Whistler Waves” for Cello and Orchestra was first heard at Canisius College. BPO Associate Principal Cellist Feng Hew is the soloist on this piece, which was inspired by the eponymous waves: audible frequencies produced in the atmosphere after a bolt of lightning. Each movement of the piece corresponds to a type of whistler wave. Mallonee is based in Buffalo, and holds a Ph.D from Duke University, a master’s degree from Yale School of Music, and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. Her work has been performed throughout the world. Hew has been the BPO’s Associate Principal Cellist since 1999. A native of Taiwan, she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the New England Conservancy of Music on a full scholarship. She has performed in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada, and she worked extensively with Emmanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma at the Irving Gilmore International Music Festival.

The disc is available through the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at or at the Kleinhans Music Hall box office.


BPO names names Jaman Edward Dunn as first-ever appointee to new Community Engagement conducting position

BUFFALO, NY – Jaman Edward Dunn will become the first-ever Assistant Conductor,
Community Engagement of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, starting later this month.
The one-year Assistant Conductor position was funded by Round VII of the New York
State Council on the Arts Regional Economic Development Council initiative and is part
of the BPO’s ongoing efforts to engage with all parts of the Buffalo community in a
meaningful way and to serve diverse audiences.

Dunn was selected from a slate of six candidates who came to Buffalo from as far away
as Germany and Argentina for a closed conducting audition. Each candidate had an
opportunity to conduct the orchestra, deliver a speaking presentation to members of the
orchestra, board and community, and take part in an interview process.
Dunn will lead the May 2019 Side-By-Side concert with the Buffalo Academy for Visual
and Performing Arts, which includes not only the music students performing onstage
with the BPO, but dance, theatrical and visual elements put together by students in the
other programs. He will also take part in the Music for Youth education concert series,
BPO Kids concerts, school outreach, cover conducting duties and will participate in the
BPO Diversity Council.

Dunn has been studying conducting since high school. A Chicago native, he began his
musical education as a violinist at the age of 8. He attended The Ohio State University
for vocal performance, where he founded the Buckeye Philharmonic, which remains
Ohio State’s only student-run and operated orchestra. He is a recent graduate of The
Boston Conservatory at Berklee with a Master’s of Music degree in conducting.
During his studies, he led the Conductor’s Orchestra at Berklee in works of Strauss,
Brahms, Walton, and Dvořák; and he has assisted the Boston Conservatory Orchestra in
works of Mahler, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev. Separate from his program requirements,
Dunn has conducted self-promoted concerts of Vaughan Williams, Respighi, John
Williams, Mendelssohn, and Elgar. Maestro Dunn has also conducted the Berklee
Boston Conservatory Recording Orchestra in compositions by rising composers in the
fields of classical and film music. He balances this with a continued career as a vocalist.

“I am extremely excited to be appointed to this position with the Buffalo Philharmonic
Orchestra,” Dunn said. “I am very passionate about conducting, but even more than
that, I am very passionate about the presence of minorities in classical music. One of the
biggest challenges I have experienced is the underrepresentation of African-American
role models in this field. I hope that with this position, I can add to the presence of
African-American conductors in the performance field in order to make visibility that
much stronger. I can’t wait to begin this journey with the Buffalo Philharmonic.”

About the BPO
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 45 new recordings on
the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels.

Bokyung Byun becomes first female winner of JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Following tonight’s final round performance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bokyung Byun of  South Korea won first place and Musician’s Choice in the eighth biennial JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition. Byun is the first woman to win the Competition. Tengue “TY” Zhang of China captured Audience Favorite and second place. Congyi Zhang won third place, and also received the inaugural William and Carol Greiner Award, encouraging the performance of lesser-known works, for his performance of Ernesto Cordero’s Concierto Antillano.

Eight classical guitarists, representing five nations, competed throughout the week. After a round of semi-finals performed with an accompanist, the judges’ panel chose three finalists to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under Music Director JoAnn Falletta, herself a classical guitarist.

Byun will receive a solo concert at the Fondazione La Società dei Concerti in a recital among the series “Winners!” of Incontri Musicali at Gaber Auditorium in Milano, Italy, along with a $10,000 cash prize, national and international broadcast exposure, and a return engagement with the BPO.

Byun began playing guitar at age 6. At the age of 11, she began going on concert tours in Korea. By her teen years, she had won competitions held by the Korea Guitar Association, the Music Association of Korea, and the Guitar Foundation of America. She was the first guitarist ever to be admitted to Juilliard’s undergraduate guitar program. She is now pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Southern California as the recipient of the prestigious International Artist Fellowship. She is 23. Byun performed Concerto pour Guitare et Petit Orchestra by Heitor Villa-Lobos and Salseado from Sonata for Guitar by Roberto Sierra.

Tengue Zhang, who often goes by “TY,”  was the First Prize winner of the 2017 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artists Competition. He studied in China at the Music School of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and has been a student of Sharon Isbin at The Juilliard School since 2012, where he received his B.M. and M.M. His debut CD will be released on the Naxos label later this month. He is 24. TY will receive $3000.

Congyi Zhang is from Beijing, China, and is currently living in New York City. Congyi first learned to play classical guitar under his father’s instruction at age 8. He attended Central Conservatory of Music of China Middle School, graduated from Central Conservatory of Music of China in Beijing in 2016 with his Bachelor of Music degree, and is now a first year Master of Music scholarship student at Mannes School of Music in New York City. Congyi will receive a $1000 cash prize for his third-place win and a $3000 cash prize from the Greiner Award.

Buffalo-based Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio, a well-known international chamber   ensemble guitar duo, are the Competition’s artistic directors. In addition to Castellani and Andriaccio, the live competitions were judged by guitarists Francisco Bernier and Irina Kulikova; composer Eric Sessler; guitarist and educator Michael Newman; artistic agent Sean Samimi; and audio engineer David Dusman.


Facebook: We have a winner! Bokyung Byun of South Korea is the first female winner of the  JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition #fallettacomp18

Twitter: Bokyun Byun of South Korea wins 2018 @fallettacomp — first woman to do so! #fallettacomp18

  About the Competition

Founded in 2004 and organized by WNED ǀ WBFO and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the competition is one of the foremost musical events in the world and the first concerto competition for classical guitarists. It is named in honor of the BPO’s music director, JoAnn Falletta. Past winners include Marcin Dylla, Marko Topchii, and Celil Refik Kaya. For more information about the competition, visit .

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JoAnn Falletta to receive SUNY Honorary Doctor of Music at Buffalo State College

Buffalo State College will confer degrees on 1,900 undergraduate and 683 graduate students during its 146th commencement celebration, Saturday, May 19, in the Sports Arena.

Degree candidates will be honored at morning (9:00 a.m.) and afternoon (1:00 p.m.) baccalaureate ceremonies and an evening (5:00 p.m.) master’s hooding and certificate of advanced study (C.A.S.) ceremony.

The 9:00 a.m. ceremony is for degree candidates from the School of Education and School of the Professions. The 1:00 p.m. ceremony is for degree candidates from the School of Arts and Humanities and School of Natural and Social Sciences.

JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Virginia Symphony Orchestra, will receive a SUNY Honorary Doctor of Music and deliver the commencement address at the morning and afternoon ceremonies.

The Buffalo Philharmonic extends its congratulations to its beloved Maestro on this well-deserved honor!

Listening Post: Wagner

Review by Jeff Simon, Buffalo News, April 6, 2018

Wagner, Orchestral Music from “Der Ring des Nibelungen” performed by Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta (Naxos). If you take an historical overview of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra you have to conclude that no BPO conductor has achieved anything close on record with the orchestra to the recording presence that Falletta has. Foss’ avant-garde influence on the BPO was profound on the orchestra and the city, but the recordings he produced weren’t. Michael Tilson Thomas’ decision to use the  BPO to record the complete music of Carl Ruggles was the BPO’s most consequential recorded moment, along with its recording of Terry Rley’s “In C.” But you could argue that the BPO’s records for Naxos have been the fulfillment of the orchestra conducted years ago by Steinberg and Krips. It’s Naxos’ marvelous insistence on using the BPO for “big” works with a “big” orchestral sound are making every new disc a potential wonderment. They aren’t all on the level of the BPO’s version of Gliere’s “Ilya Murometz” Symphony no. 3 (probably the orchestra’s most arresting performance on record), but this is a work of immense musical substance performed by the orchestra with the sonic size and authenticity one could hope for. The significance can’t be overstated. Wagner’s “Ring” cycle requires, from listeners, an investment of time and dedication hard to come by in the digital age. To hear so much of its wonderful music, this one disc Falletta anthology of Wagner’s “Ring” sans voices presents a near-perfect distillation for novices of the genius of a composer who was a historical horror in countless ways (racial, personal) but, undeniably one of the most sublime who ever lived along with it. ★ ★ ★ ★

A celebration in Lublin

After all of the planning, all of the coordination, the excitement, and the hoopla, it’s hard to believe that the tour has ended so quickly. But last night’s performance at the Centre of Culture in Lublin (Centrum Spotkania Kultur) was the final stop on this tour. The hall was completed in 2015. Its construction was a psychological triumph for the city, as it replaced a hall that had languished half-built throughout the 1980s and later opened in the mid-1990s as a scaled-back version of the originally conceived design. This concert was also sold-out — a delightful way to end the tour. This was a monumental experience for the orchestra. JoAnn Falletta called it “one of the most exciting weeks of my life.” Musicians enthusiastically documented the experience on their personal social media accounts. The entire organization is thankful for everyone who’s supported and followed our journey. We hope we made you proud. We thank you for the chance to do so. We expect to have more for you, including a post from cellist Robbie Hausmann about playing at Auschwitz in memory of his great-grandmother, so do keep checking back!

Hello from the future: inside the Center for Culture, Lublin.

The Center’s exterior is a giant marquee.

A poster at the Center. Our tour was presented by the Beethoven Easter Festival.

Our program.

A view from the sold-out house!

And a view from the wings.

Celebration time!

Violist Valerie Heywood and violinist Diana Sachs raising a glass to a successful tour.


More celebration!

In harmony: cellist Feng Hew and her husband, violinist Shieh-Jian Tsai, got to experience the Poland tour together.

Look at those smiles!

Viola power! JoAnn Falletta backstage at Lublin with some of the section.

Everyone else’s work is over, but the ops crew has another big job ahead of them. Remember our posts about palletizing, shipping, and getting everything inspected? They’re doing it all again!


“The BPO is Perfect”

That was the headline out of Warsaw that greeted us this morning on Twitter. This is one of the first reviews of our performances that we’ve been able to see in America. Written by Wojciech Giczkowski for his Teatralna Warszawa (“Warsaw Theater”) blog, it was nothing short of glowing!

We did the best we could through Google Translate to share it with you, but we do think some things got lost in translation, and we welcome corrections. Here is the original link:

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is Perfect

This year’s 22nd Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival was graced by the performance of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which has existed since 1938. The team outside the capital will perform in three cities: Katowice, Wrocław and Lublin. American guests will play in Poland under the baton of the world-famous conductor, and also the musical director of the orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, who is known to be Leonard Bernstein’s student. The program of the musicians from the city on the Niagara River, who have received Grammy awards and give over 120 concerts annually, is focused on the presentation of twentieth-century American music. This musical offer can be surprising for many, because it is strongly anchored in the American tradition, i.e. jazz and blues.

At the beginning, we listened to Symphony No. 1 op. 9 Samuel Barber, which was the first piece by an American composer to be presented at the Salzburg festival (1937). JoAnn Falletta directed the musicians to show the emotional and lyric-dramatic nature of the song. It is worth noting that when she became the music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1999, Maestro Falletta became the first woman to lead one of the great American orchestras, and Elżbieta Penderecka had been trying for years bringing this great artist and her orchestra to Poland.

The festival audience was the most surprised when Krystian Zimerman at the inauguration with a smile played jazz elements of Bernstein’s “The Age of Anxiety”. Meanwhile, the dynamic Conrad Tao, a pianist and composer playing Piano Concerto in F major George Gershwin, no longer surprised anyone, because everyone knows that the author of “Rhapsody in Blue” wanted to be a composer of classical music, which he decided to combine with energetic American folk music. In the presented composition, we hear Charleston in Allegro, and two blues motifs in Adagio, similar to the motif from the first part. At Allegro Agitato, the orchestra plays the second blues theme, and the piano responds with a secondary motif. Conrad Tao turned out to be a sensational pianist for this orchestra to perform with. He was ideally suited to the interpretation of this humorous and fun piece. The second part of the Buffalo Philharmonic concert opened with the Adagio from Krzysztof Penderecki’s Symphony No. 3. They surprised the audience with a beautiful performance of the melody and created a nostalgic, romantic atmosphere. In their interpretation, the lyrical melody went from strings to horns, flutes and piccolo and to other instruments, and was variationally variation on the background of the orchestral accompaniment, subtly changing the timbre. It was beauty and perfection in one. After the end, JoAnn Falletta turned to the hall and thanked Krzysztof Penderecki on the balcony with a deep bow. The moved audience thanked the composer and performers at the same time. At the end, the orchestra commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein and played his “West Side Story symphonic dances”. A well-known remake of the tragic story of lovers from Verona is a famous musical from 1957. In the symphonic version, the variability of moods and emotions shows how great was the inventiveness of the composer, especially in the search for melodies and rhythms. The dances combine three popular sounds associated with the most famous songs from this musical. It was a real American evening of the festival. He warmed even the most frozen viewers who came to the National Philharmonic.

Eat, sleep, perform: Katowice

Katowice, we’re told, is a hidden gem of Poland, a riverside city that has utterly transformed from a crushingly gray, oppressive place under Communism to a bustling business center with a vibrant cultural life.

Unfortunately, we have to take their word for it. With a 2 PM arrival in the city, and warm-ups starting between 4:30 and 6 PM, there was no time for sightseeing. The orchestra traveled from Warsaw to perform for a sold-out crowd in Katowice’s incredible 1800-seat NOSPR (Narodowa Orkiestra Symfoniczna Polskiego Radia, or in English, the National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Poland) Hall. The hall is less than four years old and was built as part of a “cultural axis” in the city that includes museums and historic sites. The hall is the home of the renowned National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Poland. We were pleased to have the opportunity to perform here. We didn’t get much of a chance to get acquainted with Katowice, but we are glad that the classical music lovers of Katowice got to meet us.


This is Katowice! As seen from the hotel.

The exterior of the NOSPR Hall, clad in red stone columns of varying widths in nods to both the traditional architecture of the region and the changing rhythms of music.

Dinner! The pre-show backstage spread.

The stunning interior of NOSPR Hall. Those risers are hydraulic.

Setting up, warming up for the people of Katowice.

Hornist Sheryl Hadeka’s pre-concert view.

Sheryl Hadeka on the bus from Warsaw to Katowice.

The couple that plays together: Sheryl’s fiance Ryder Shelley is a substitute percussionist on the tour.

Sheryl and JoAnn pre-concert.

Katowice, we hardly knew ye: on to Lublin!


Images from Warsaw

This morning, Executive Director Dan Hart shared his impressions of last night’s concert.

The big Warsaw moment came and went in a flurry, and it was a tremendous night for the BPO.

Many of the BPO fans in attendance were moved to tears by the electric nature of the performance and the profound artistic statement we made on the world stage. The Filharmonia Hall seemed to fit us like a glove — the orchestra seemed right at home and responded in kind.

I sat with Maestro Penderecki and he said many times how good the orchestra sounded. One can tell that he has a very high status in the country as he got a standing ovation after we performed his Adagio – the applause for him went in for a long time.

I was trying to gauge the response to our Gershwin and Bernstein by the “head bobbing” quotient and there was a lot of it —-and some toe-tapping around me. I heard only positive comments, and many could not stop talking about how great the concert was afterward.

Great solos from the orchestra -Alex Jokipii has major work in the Gershwin and really nailed it, but we have so many great players and all the solos shined.

The Festival organizers were very very happy and are already talking about a return engagement!


Beethoven Easter Festival display.

The hall was beautiful. Note the little bit of spring in the lower right hand corner.

Clarinetist Patti DiLutis, warming up.

Principal violist Caroline Gilbert warming up. This is Caroline’s first season with the BPO.

Dinesh Joseph at the xylophone.

The dream come true: the BPO taking its bows at the Beethoven Easter Festival.

JoAnn Falletta in her dressing room at Filharmonia Hall.

Legends: JoAnn Falletta and Krzysztof Penderecki.

Elzbieta Penderecka, Conrad Tao, Krzysztof Penderecki, JoAnn Falletta, Ambassador Paul Jones and his wife, author Catherine Cheremeteff Jones.

BPO board members Karen Sperrazza, Scott Stenclik, Cindy Abbott Letro, Executive Director Dan Hart and Board Chair Steve Swift.

The audience files in.

BPO Director of Development and Associate Director Jen Barbee (L) with board member Karen Sperrazza and Rachel Stenclik.

Elzbieta Penderecka, JoAnn Falletta, and Poland Tour Ambassador/BPO Board Member Cindy Abbott Letro.

Ambassador Paul Jones speaks at the post-concert party.

Warsaw: the big day

March 20, 2018. Notable to some as the first day of spring, just an ordinary Tuesday to many others. But to us, it’s a significant moment in our history. It’s a day that people will talk about for years. It’s the day we made genuine history as the first full American orchestra to perform at the prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw. It’s the day when JoAnn Falletta became the first American woman to conduct at the Festival.

These are no small milestones. This Festival is a big deal in Europe. Anne-Sophie Mutter, the Shanghai Quartet, Anne Akiko Meyers, and the Emerson String Quartet are among the high-profile artists who have performed there. Dignitaries are often spotted in attendance at the concerts, including Poland’s past president, who attended this year’s opening night. The festival is organized by Elzbieta Penderecka, one of the most respected women in Poland’s classical music scene. We’re proud to say that she’s also a friend of ours. It was an honor to be invited to perform, a privilege to be able to accept, and a true joy to share our music with the people of Poland on one of Europe’s most prestigious stages.

We also had a wonderful time exploring the city. The musicians had most of Monday and Tuesday to walk around and see the sights, enjoy some good food and drinks, and experience Warsaw. Today, the group on the VIP Patron Tour was also in Warsaw. The tour included concert tickets, and it was lovely to know that some of our biggest supporters were in the audience as we took the stage. We’re so appreciative of everyone’s support!

Load-in at Filharmonia Narodowa w Warszawie.

This gorgeous venue is a replica of one that was destroyed during WWII.

Treasure of Poland: Principal Horn Jacek Muzyk interprets at a VIP Patron Tour dinner last night.

Ambassador Paul Jones and JoAnn Falletta.

Violinists on the town: enjoying a Warsaw sunset.

Historic Warsaw.

In Warsaw, even the alleys have charm.

All week long, our musicians have been finding great street art like this!

The official Beethoven Easter Festival artwork.

JoAnn Falletta’s dressing room.

Violinist Diana Sachs post-concert with JoAnn Falletta and Conrad Tao.

Two of the most important women in classical music, if we do say so ourselves. Elzbieta Penderecka and JoAnn Falletta.