Category: BPO in the News

Fatta gift endows BPO music director post, Business First

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra began its new season on a musical high note and with a surprise from one of its largest benefactors.

Dr. Angelo Fatta and his wife, Carol, created an endowment with the BPO that funds the music director position, now held by the acclaimed JoAnn Falletta.

Fatta made the announcement late Saturday at a private reception that included guest star Renee Fleming. This marks the first time in recent years that the music director‘s post has been endowed.

With the Fatta gift, the BPO endowment is now more than $32 million when less than eight years ago, it stood at $9 million.

“We wanted to do this to do our part to maintain this jewel we call the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra,” Fatta said.

The exact amount of he endowment was not disclosed.

“JoAnn has made such a difference,” Fatta said.

Read more.

An Evening with Renee Fleming, Artvoice

America’s favorite soprano is featured at the BPO opening night gala

The opening night gala concert of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s new season is for many people the one concert of the entire subscription series that is not to be missed. Superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the featured soloist at last year’s opening night gala delivered an exciting performance of Azul, a concerto written for him by the Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, which also marked the first time that any work by this rising young composer appeared on a BPO Kleinhans program. Some might well argue that this was a tough act to follow, but not to worry, since Renée Fleming, the American soprano who herself enjoys superstar status, will be the featured soloist at this year’s BPO opening night gala on Saturday, September 13 at 8pm under the baton of music director JoAnn Falletta. The BPO scored a genuine coup by signing Renée for its opening night considering that in 2008, Fleming became the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.

Renée Fleming’s list of artistic accomplishments, well-deserved awards and accolades is overwhelming, so focusing on what her artistry means to a particularly well-informed classical music lover might be interesting. It is no surprise that Peter Hall, the genial host for the past six years of the WNED-FM 94.5 weekday ‘Classics by Request’ call-in program, which to the regret of many area classical music lovers has just ended, is a big fan of Renée Fleming.

Read more.

Falling into the classics season, Buffalo News

Autumn is a time for reflection.

Darkness begins to fall early, and the world seems to wait for Halloween, when we acknowledge the unseen and honor the dead. It’s a time for dark coffee, honeyed tea, red wine and brown ale. And with music, too, we find ourselves hungering for something deeper.

Classical music, in other words, calls to us. This fall features a chain of atmospheric events, from Rachmaninoff’s “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells” – both part of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rachmaninoff Festival – to the primal dances of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rings out, with its “Ode to Joy” and challenge of brotherhood. We will also hear the haunting strains of a Beethoven sonata that inspired a Tolstoy story, and Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle,” lit by iridescent glass.

Here are the details on these events, as well as several others that call out for your attention.

The list includes several inexpensive events, as well as a couple of freebies. Let the autumn begin.

• 8 p.m. Saturday: Soprano Renee Fleming joins the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for its season-opening gala. She sings a generous set of songs ranging from Mozart to Broadway, getting the fall musical season off to an extravagant start. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts the concert at Kleinhans Music Hall. $65-$125. 885-5000.

• 3 p.m. Sept. 21: A piano recital is a romantic way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and this one is free. Andrew Tyson, a promising pianist who has been creating quite a buzz, is playing Mozart, Chopin and Schumann in a recital that kicks off this year’s Buffalo Chamber Music Society Gift to the Community Series. Free; no tickets needed. 462-4939.

• 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 27; 3 p.m. Sept. 28: The Miro Quartet is playing the Slee Beethoven Quartet Series. The Miro “swept the Banff,” as one quartet aficionado puts it, meaning that the quartet beat out the competition at the prestigious Banff Competition in northern Canada. $12 in advance; $20 at the door, discounts for students and seniors. 645-2921.

• 7 p.m. Oct. 1: Opera meets glass sculptures in “Dark Secrets,” the inaugural event in this season’s BPO series “Know the Score.” At Kleinhans Music hall, Falletta will explain and conduct Bela Bartok’s one-act opera “Bluebeard’s Castle” with an enchanting set incorporating the glass creations of Dale Chihuly, whose glass exhibit was such a hit a few years ago at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Only four other cities have seen this production. $29, students $10. 885-5000.

• 10:30 a.m. Oct. 10; 8 p.m. Oct. 11; 8 p.m. Oct. 18; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 19: The BPO’s two-weekend Rachmaninoff Festival spotlights sides of the composer’s artistry we don’t get to glimpse too often. The first two concerts feature the seldom performed Piano Concerto No. 4, with Fabio Bidini as soloist, “The Sea and the Seagull,” and the Symphony No. 2. The second set of concerts includes the Piano Concerto No. 1 – with a beautiful slow movement that hints at Wagner – played by Gabriela Martinez, as well as “The Isle of the Dead” and “The Bells,” inspired by the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. At Kleinhans Music Hall. $34-$83. 885-5000.

Read More.

In memory of BPO bassist William D. Burns

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s musicians, staff, board members and patrons mourn the loss of longtime bass player William D. Burns. Anyone attending the BPO during the past 50 years has probably seen Mr. Burns perform. His colleagues remember him as dedicated, talented, and kind. Below is the obituary that appeared in The Buffalo News on August 13, 2014.

July 25, 1941 – Aug. 8, 2014

William D. Burns, of Buffalo, bassist for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for 49 years, died Friday in Buffalo General Medical Center a month after suffering a stroke. He was 73.

Born in Burbank, Calif., he began playing trombone and tuba, then began seriously studying bass in high school. He was accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music, where he earned a bachelor’s degree.

He joined the Buffalo Philharmonic in 1963, the first year it was under the baton of Music Director Lukas Foss. During his years with the orchestra, Mr. Burns performed 26 times in Carnegie Hall and on European and West Coast tours. He retired in 2012.

A quiet and diligent man who never owned an automobile, he enjoyed hours of solitary practice and reading, as well as long chess games on Philharmonic bus tours.

One of colleagues proposed that “due to his unparalleled work ethic and dedication, Bill has more than likely performed on the stage of Kleinhans (Music Hall) more times than any other musician.”

Survivors include a brother, Richard.

A memorial service will be arranged.

BPO gets Canalside swinging, Buffalo News

Anyone flirting with utterly falling in love with Buffalo, and all its summertime musical offerings, may have gone head over heels Thursday night during the free Canalside Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert. With a temperate evening, a salmon-colored sun hanging in the sky over the lake, and happy dance music on stage, it was a jubilant party.

The crowd, largely seated in Canalside’s iconic Adirondack chairs, and chairs brought from home, vied for real estate on the lawn. Others stood on the cobblestone from in front of the stage to the rear of the venue near the food vendor area replete with food trucks serving classic Buffalo fare and other finger foods. The place was packed.

Hitting the stage were members of the BPO under the baton of Matthew Kraemer, outgoing associate conductor after five years in the city: Kraemer is off to two orchestral gigs in Pennsylvania. The ever-smiling Kraemer, dressed in casual black attire, clearly enjoyed his time on the Canalside stage and in front of Canadian band Jeans ’n Classics of London, Ont. The set featured hits by both Earth, Wind & Fire and later-career Michael Jackson, divided fairly evenly with songs familiar to anyone who has been within a mile of a dance floor since the 1970s. Read more.

EarShot deadline for emerging composers is Oct. 17

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, Music Director, and EarShot, the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network, announce the BPO New Music Readings, to be held February 10-12, 2015, in Buffalo, NY. The Readings are designed to be an outstanding artistic and professional-development opportunity for emerging composers, and are also an excellent way for emerging composers to gain visibility in the field of orchestral music.

Up to four emerging composers will be selected for the opportunity to work closely with the nationally acclaimed BPO under the baton of associate conductor Stefan Sanders. Composers will be selected for the readings on a competitive basis, and the experience will include feedback from principal BPO musicians, Mr. Sanders, and a panel of highly-regarded mentor composers.

To apply and learn more, click here.

From Mother Teresa to Colonel Klink: 10 memories of the BPO’s Julius Rudel, Buffalo News

Since the passing last week of Julius Rudel, who was music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1979 to 1985, people have been coming forward with memories of the maestro. A look into The News’ files, too, has turned up classic moments from the Rudel years.

The episodes add up to a dramatic trip into the past. Rudel has not been as talked-about here in Buffalo as much as his more flamboyant peers: Semyon Bychkov, Lukas Foss, Michael Tilson Thomas. His six-year tenure, though substantial, was not that long. (Sadly, he declined to renew his contract for reasons centering on the illness of his wife, who died soon afterward. Bychkov, his successor, had been associate conductor.) See More.

GIHS student to play with BPO

Alexander Cousins of Grand Island will join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert July 1 at Knox Farm in East Aurora.

Cousins, a cellist, will perform Camille Saint-Saens’ “Concerto No. 1 in A Minor for Cello and Orchestra.” The concert is free to attend.

Cousins is a 2014 graduate of Grand Island High School and was the third-place winner of the Friends of the BPO Scholarship, earning $1,000 toward his continued music education. He participated in the BPO’s inaugural season of master classes, performing for cellist Zuill Bailey.

A student of BPO principal cellist Roman Mekinulov, Cousins began his involvement in music in grade five and has continued through high school (orchestra, symphonic orchestra, chamber orchestra, concert choir, and jazz band). Other music activities that Cousins has participated in are Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, with whom he performed a concerto; Niagara Music Educator’s Association Orchestra playing bass in grade 9; Erie County Music Educators’ Association Orchestra playing cello; New York State School Music Association Area All-State String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra; Cheektowaga Symphony Orchestra; and STAGE Summer Pit Orchestra.

Academically, Cousins is enrolled in the Advanced Regents College Preparatory Curriculum. He is also very involved in his church’s Worship Team, Inspire Bible Study, and Young Life Ministries.

BPO wins Spark Award for Cultural Organization of the Year

Arts Services Initiative of WNY named the BPO Cultural Organization of the Year at its inaugural Spark Awards, held Wednesday, June 25, at the Lafayette Hotel. The BPO was one of three finalists for the award, along with Torn Space Theater and Squeaky Wheel/Buffalo Media Resources. BPO percussionist Matt Bassett accepted the award on behalf of the organization. 

Among the BPO’s contributions to Western New York’s cultural scene in 2013 were the performance of a world premiere flute concerto; the broadcast of a live education concert into classrooms at no charge to students or school districts; the kickoff of the Teaching Artists Program, which brings BPO musicians into classrooms around the region; the international release of two recordings; and free performances throughout Western New York, including a two-day festival at Canalside.

The season’s capstone was the May performance at Spring For Music at Carnegie Hall, in which the orchestra shattered records for hometown ticket sales and performed to a near-capacity crowd.  Included in the audience were 200 New York City students who received free tickets thanks to a program spearheaded by M&T Bank, the lead corporate sponsor of the orchestra’s trip. Overall, Western New York’s corporate and philanthropic communities provided more than $500,000 in support of this endeavor.

On the night of the concert, thousands of people around the world listened to it streaming live. The concert united current and former Western New Yorkers, and favorable reviews of the concert in publications such as The New York Times and Concerto.net focused the attention of the classical music world on the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Former BPO Music Director Julius Rudel dies at age 93, New York Times

Julius Rudel, Music Director of the BPO from 1979-1984, passed away at the age of 93.

He last conducted the BPO in 2003. Here is the program page from that performance: Rudels_last_concert.pdf

From his obituary in The New York Times:

Julius Rudel, the Austrian-born conductor who raised the New York City Opera to a venturous golden age with highbrow music for the masses and a repertory that, like him, bridged the Old and New Worlds, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.

His death, announced by his son, Anthony, came eight months after his beloved and financially struggling City Opera filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors.

“I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would outlive the company,” he told The New York Times shortly afterward.

Mr. Rudel was the maestro and the impresario, the principal conductor and the director of City Opera for 22 years (1957-79), working in the orchestra pit while running the company on shoestring budgets, signing contracts, casting productions and nurturing young singers like José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and Beverly Sills. Read more in the New York Times.