Category: The BPO goes to Poland!

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.

Wroclaw: performance time

Wroclaw was the place where the rubber met the road for this tour: our first performance as a full orchestra. On Saturday, the musicians had a full day to explore the city and reunite with their instruments to get in some practice time. The concert took place Sunday night. Our venue was the astonishing National Forum of Music. The performance was received enthusiastically, and today, the orchestra was off for Warsaw, preparing for tomorrow night’s history-making performance at the Beethoven Easter Festival.

But first, let’s take a look at Wroclaw, the “lively idyll,” the “city of dwarves!”

It looks like a fairy tale.

One of our favorite dwarf sculptures!

Taken by associate principal bass Brett Shurtliffe, of course!

Reunited and it feels so good: Kela Walton, left, and “Chuck.”

The lights of the National Forum of Music shine for us.

A view from the xylophone. Tons of percussion on the Poland tour program.

Setting the stage, getting ready for the big night.

The hottest ticket in town. We love the concert title: Born in the USA!

The lobby is just as stunning as the main hall.

A dream about to come true. JoAnn in Poland, ready conduct the best-known work by one of her key mentors.

But first, dinner: Personnel manager Jenn Comisso, Operations Director Alison Bolton and Associate Librarian Travis Hendra enjoy a meal togehter.

Taking a bow! It’s not the best photo, but it’s a joyful one.

Colleagues after the big night!

Conrad Tao and JoAnn Falletta deep in conversation in Wroclaw.

Rzeszow, Buffalo’s Sister City

On Saturday, while most of the orchestra enjoyed a free day in Wroclaw, the octet was performing in Buffalo’s sister city, Rzeszow. Ever since the concept of the tour came up, we started seeking a way to visit Rzeszow (pronounced something like chesh-ow). The BPO has long considered itself Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, reaching the entire world through our 45 CDs and our Performance Today broadcasts. This was a chance to do some in-person ambassadorship, and to deepen the relationship between our two communities that has been in place since 1975.

Elzbieta Piecuch, Rzeszów Sister City Manager, has been our constant contact. She worked very hard to get us to Rzeszów and put together a fantastic experience for us!

The octet performs at the University of Rzeszow — a truly beautiful venue.

A delicious dinner in Rzeszow!

Rzeszow City Hall

Entrance to a small church off the main square of Rzeszow.

The schedule allowed for a little exploring. It was a treat to see inside this gorgeous church.

Tadeusz Kosciuszko is a hero to Americans and to Poles. He was instrumental in the American Revolution and bravely led a rebellion against the Russians in his home country.

A street scene in Rzeszow.

Glenn Einschlag, Henry Ward, Anna Mattix, Daniel Kerdelewicz and Max Pipinich on the steps of the hotel.

Thank you, Rzeszow. It was lovely to spend some time with you. Next stop: Wroclaw!


A successful residency at the Penderecki Center

While everyone else was on the road, eight members of the BPO spent the past two days in Lusalwice at the stunning Krzysztof Penderecki Center for Music. There, they taught the next generation of students and gave a recital featuring music by Brahms and Mozart.

It’s an especially meaningful stop given the way this tour came about. Elzbieta Penderecka, music director of the Beethoven Easter Festival, is the wife of Krzysztof Penderecki. Because of their support and friendship, we were able to do this tour. Maestro Penderecki conducted in Buffalo in December 2016, a weekend that will forever represent a highlight of the orchestra’s history. Just as modern audiences are in awe of the fact that the BPO has been led in the past by Aaron Copland, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Igor Stravinsky, so too will future audiences be astonished by Penderecki’s appearance on our roster of esteemed guest conductors. During that week, we got to know the Pendereckis as not only towering figures in the modern classical music world, but as kind, genuine people.

If all of that weren’t enough, the octet also got to teach some phenomenal wind students. The students also had a chance to get to know our musicians, and we hope the experience will help them in all of their future endeavors. Tomorrow, the octet plays in Buffalo’s sister city, Rzeszow.

An exterior view of the Penderecki Center in Luslawice. Most of the concert halls we’ll visit on this tour were built within the past 15 years.

Solo: Daniel Kerdelewicz practicing on the stage of the cutting-edge Penderecki Center.

Oboe present and future: Oboe students show off their diplomas received from Anna Mattix (L) and Henry Ward.

Daniel (L) and Jacek Muzyk with their French Horn students.

Two students (opposite ends) pose with bassonist Max Pipinich, JoAnn Falletta and Glenn Einschlag on the Penderecki Center stage.

Dinner together: members of the octet share a backstage meal with their students at the Penderecki Center.

The students received genuine diplomas for their participation in the masterclass.

The octet performed music by Mozart and Brahms in their recital. The program repeats in Rzeszow.

Programs for the evening.

Sculptures in the Center.

Colorful benches at the Penderecki Center.

It’s slightly jarring to see the bust of someone you consider a friend, who is very much alive. The man for whom the Center was named.


Red eyes, big smiles!

The musicians and staff are now in their fourth country in less than 24 hours. The two groups of musicians left Toronto’s Pearson Airport around 7 PM last night, one bound for London’s Heathrow Airport and the other for Brussels, Belgium. Each group had time to enjoy breakfast before boarding another plane to Prague. Both groups are now en route to Wroclaw via bus.

One orchestra, checking in! At Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

The journey begins: Director of Concert Production Lisa Gallo (L), Operations Director Alison Bolton, and Principal Librarian Pat Kimball at Pearson.

Seatmates! Personnel manager Jenn Comisso (L) and bassoonist Martha Malkiewicz. Funny, we never noticed they had rabbit ears before!

High spirits! Aboard the plane to Brussels, taken by Martha Malkiewicz.

Good morning Ireland, with love from Martha Malkiewicz!

Good morning London, with love from violinist Diana Sachs!

Power breakfast: Jennie Baccante, Diana Sachs and Alan Ross dine together at Heathrow Airport in London before leaving for Prague.

If you think this coffee looks good, imagine how it would look at 6:30 AM after an all-night flight!

Departure Day!

A little over an hour ago, two buses pulled out of the Kleinhans parking lot bound for Toronto’s Pearson Airport – the first leg in the lengthy journey from Buffalo to Wroclaw. Most of the musicians and staff were onboard, although some musicians opted to make their own way to Wroclaw.

Custom luggage tags for the tour.

Dedication: Principal Trumpet Alex Jokipii gets in some last-minute practice before boarding the bus.

We are so thankful to Grand Tours/Ridge Road Express for taking us up to Toronto!

Thank you to bus drivers Joseph Kern and Ronald Herkey; also Cindy Jex for handling our reservations.

Robert Webster was eating dinner with his girlfriend when he got the call from the BPO asking him to serve as a substitute double bass. The gig? Our Poland tour!

Principal Tuba Don Harry was on the 1988 European Tour with the BPO. Today, he boarded the bus for the Poland Tour!

Associate Principal Bass Brett Shurtliffe hugged his wife goodbye before leaving for the ten-day Poland tour.

Violinist Diana Sachs and cellist Nancy Anderson posed for this photo before boarding opposite buses. As Diana walked away, Nancy shouted to her, “See you in Prague!’

As I was putting this post together, I got word that the buses have crossed the Canadian border with no trouble. Their flights leave around 7 PM.

Meanwhile in Poland, everything’s coming together. Our stagehands Charlie Gill and Sean Avery have arrived in Wroclaw and will get a chance to rest and enjoy some Polish food and scenery before tomorrow’s load-in at the Wroclaw venue. Our new friend Giuliano of Agility Transport is also in Wroclaw, and is coordinating load-in details with the venue staff. Our instruments and other cargo are on schedule to arrive in Wroclaw for tomorrow’s load-in.

We hope to have an update soon on the wind octet performances and classes in Lusalwice. But Principal Oboe Henry Ward shared some photos last night. The octet all realized that they missed out on Paczki Day in Buffalo last month, but they found a place to make it up!