Category: Press Releases

Celebration of Music Education held at Kleinhans honors leaders in the field

Saturday, April 25 will mark the annual Celebration of Music Education at Kleinhans Music Hall, presented by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.  A reception and awards ceremony open to honorees, music educators, administrators and supporters of music education will be catered by Oliver’s and take place at 6:30 p.m. At the beginning of the 8 p.m. concert, honorees will be recognized before the BPO audience. 

Harter Secrest & Emery LLP will receive the BPO’s Leadership in Music Education Award. The downtown Buffalo law firm has underwritten the BPO’s West Side Connection program for the past two years, which has brought BPO musicians into the schools on the West Side and culminated in a concert which was broadcast to thousands of students in all eight counties of Western New York.

Three educators were selected to receive the BPO and Erie County Music Educators’ Association award for excellence in music education: John Iocco of the Iroquois Central School District; Donna Kerr of the Buffalo Public Schools; and Diane Sullivan of the Depew Union Free School District.

Iocco has taught at Iroquois Central High School for 15 years, serving as director of the Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Marching Band. He is the associate director of the Erie County Wind Ensemble, and has served as a guest conductor for various All County and Area All-State honor bands. He performs percussion locally with Erie County Wind Ensemble, Clarence Summer Orchestra, and the Village of Hamburg Concert Band. He is a member of the Erie County Music Educators Association, New York State Band Director’s Association, New York State School Music Association, National Association for Music Education, and the Buffalo Musicians’ Association.

Kerr began her teaching career in 1990 at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, and has taught music, English, and theater in several Buffalo Public Schools since then. She is currently the Director of Bands at City Honors School where she conducts the Concert, Marching, Jazz and Pit Bands. She is active in NAfME and ECMEA, and has served as an adjudicator and festival chair for NYSSMA. She is involved in the BPO/ECMEA Community Spotlight Program and has also served on the BPO Curriculum Planning Committee. She founded the Andrews Sister tribute group The Buffalo Dolls, and sings with them frequently.

Sullivan has taught in the Depew school district for 38 years, and is currently the director of the Depew High School Concert Choir, Mixed Chorus, SSA Chorus and Show Choir.  She is producer and music director for the annual musical production and a music department co-chairperson. As a member of ECMEA, she has served as an All-County Chorus chairperson at both the junior high and senior high levels, as a member of the county’s Scholarship Audition Committee, and as a presenter at the January WNY Conference Day for Music Educators.  Sullivan is also a member of NYSSMA and ACDA.  She has been included in “Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers” and was named Depew Schools’ Educator of the Year in 1988. 

The BPO and the Niagara County Music Educators Association are recognizing Christine Riederer with their award for excellence in music education. Riederer has taught at Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School for 21 years. She conducts the Concert and Symphonic Bands, and teaches music theory and instrumental lessons. Prior to her appointment at Niagara-Wheatfield, she taught band and orchestra in Ohio and Michigan and trumpet at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. She is a member of NAfME, NYSSMA and NCMEA.  She has guest conducted the ECMEA Junior High South All-County Band and served as Chairperson for the Senior High Area All-State Band and Senior High All-County Bands numerous times over the years. She lives in Grand Island.

The Friends of the BPO will present their three scholarship winners at this event. The scholarships are awarded annually to graduating high school seniors who intend to further their careers in music, and include an opportunity to perform with the BPO over the summer.

The first prize winner is Grace Ann Lee of Williamsville East High School. Lee began cello and piano studies in Korea, where she won the Korean National Piano Competition twice and was the third place winner of the Huang San Bul National Korean Traditional Folk Music Competition. Since 2011, she has performed in Erie County Orchestras, the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, Area All-State Orchestra, and NYSSMA Conference All-State Orchestras. She received a 2015 Silverman String Scholarship from the Buffalo Chamber Music Society. She is also a composer who has won many accolades: winner of the 2014 and 2015 Young Arts National Foundation in Composition Award, and NAfME All-National Competition for Composers; Second Degree Winner of ‘The Other Composition Competition;’ 2012 and 2014 winner of the NYSSMA Honors Composers Competition; and the Persis Vehar Composition Competition. In the fall, she plans to study music composition with a concentration in cello performance.

The second prize winner is Lauren Scanio of Clarence High School. Scanio has played flute since fourth grade, and is also proficient on piccolo. She has performed in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, NAfME All-National Orchestra, American Music Abroad Symphonic Band, and the Lucerne Music Center Orchestra. She won three competitions in the period of one week:  the Rochester Flute Association Competition, the 198th Army Band Competition, and the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition.  She has served as a substitute for the BPO in their performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. In the fall, she plans to study flute performance.

The third prize winner is Angel Rhodes of Orchard Park High School. Rhodes is a violinist who began her studies at age 5. She has attended the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival and Brevard Music Center Festival during the past two summers.  She is the winner of the Orchard Park Symphony Women’s Committee Concerto Competition and a 2015 recipient of the Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s Silverman String Scholarship. She has performed with NYSSMA Conference All-State Orchestra in 2013, Conference All-State String Orchestra in 2014, and the 2015 NAfME All Eastern Orchestra, as well as the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. She is also a composer, and had her debut work performed by her high school orchestra last fall. She intends to major in violin performance at college.


Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra names John Morris Russell as Principal Pops Conductor

BUFFALO, NY – After a national search that brought many dynamic candidates to the Kleinhans stage, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has selected John Morris Russell as its new Principal Pops Conductor.


Buffalo audiences saw Russell conduct at the opening concert of the 2014-15 Pops Series featuring “Glee” star Matthew Morrison. Russell is currently the Conductor of the esteemed Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.


“John Morris Russell has the charisma and energy to be a first-rate face of the BPO Pops series,” said Louis Ciminelli, BPO Board Chair. “We are confident that he will bring the best of pops programming to Buffalo and add extra vitality to an already outstanding series. He will create a dynamic leadership team with JoAnn Falletta.”


“Our search committee of musicians, board and staff members saw many excellent candidates this season with the BPO, but in the final analysis, John Morris Russell seemed to be the perfect fit for Buffalo and for the BPO,” said Dennis Black, BPO Vice Chair and head of the search committee. “Our Pops program is a big part of what we do. I’m sure the community and audiences will be delighted with him.”


“I’m happy to welcome him to the BPO team,” said JoAnn Falletta, BPO Music Director. “The musicians and I are very excited by the artistic creativity he will bring to the podium. I look forward to working with him.”  


“I was not seeking out a conducting position when I worked with the BPO last fall, but leading this engaged and passionate orchestra with such a wildly enthusiastic audience at Kleinhans Music Hall was a delight,” said Russell. “I was thrilled to be asked to join the BPO as Principal Pops Conductor, following the footsteps of such acclaimed American conductors, and look forward to getting to know the Nickel City and its vibrant music scene.”


During the BPO’s 2015-16 season, Russell will be Principal Pops Conductor Designate, and will lead three concerts: Holiday Pops on Dec. 18-20, “Great Ladies of Swing with Dee Daniels” on Jan. 23, and “A Symphonic Tribute to John Denver” on Feb. 26 and 27. He will have an integral role in developing the Pops Series programs in coming seasons, and as Principal Pops Conductor, will conduct five BPO concert programs per season for the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 seasons.


Russell’s tenure has revitalized the venerable Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, leading to double-digit increases in attendance and a renewed program of touring and recording. From 1995 to 2006, Russell was Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, and in 2010, was invited to return as conductor of The Pops, following founding conductor Erich Kunzel. He will remain with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra while serving as BPO Principal Pops Conductor. A popular guest conductor throughout the United States and Canada, he also holds the title of Conductor Laureate with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario, Canada, where he was Music Director for 11 years.


He previously served as Associate Conductor of the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, Director of the Orchestral Program at Vanderbilt University, and Music Director with the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Massachusetts. He received a Master of Music degree in conducting from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Williams College in Massachusetts.


Since the BPO’s inception, Pops programs have been crucial to its artistic profile. Music legends such as Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis and Rita Moreno have come to Buffalo to perform on the series. In 1964 and 1965, the BPO even performed two multi-city Pops tours under the baton of Arthur Fiedler. Russell will be the latest in a long line of luminaries to hold this position. Past Principal Pops Conductors include Doc Severinsen, Marvin Hamlisch, Mitch Miller and Erich Kunzel.


The BPO’s 2015-16 Pops Series features:

  • Music of the Mad Men Era, 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26.
  • Jason Alexander, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17
  • A ‘Psycho’ Halloween featuring the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31
  • Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel, 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14
  • Holiday Pops, 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18; 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20
  • Great Ladies of Swing with Dee Daniels, 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23
  • Chris Botti, 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13
  • A Symphonic Tribute to John Denver, 10:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27
  • Pink Martini, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 12
  • Cirque Mechanics, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 9
  • Celebrating Sammy: Broadway to Vegas, 8 p.m. Saturday, April 30

Star Spangled Pops, 10:30 a.m. Friday, May 27 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 28

Buffalo Philharmonic presents Link Up program to four area schools


Contact: Kate Jenkins

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Communications Coordinator

(716) 242-7819


BUFFALO, NY – Students from four area schools have been working all year to participate in Link Up.

The Link Up program was developed by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. When the program was made available to districts outside of New York City in 2010, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Amherst Central School district were among the first in the country to take advantage of it. BPO Education Director Robin Parkinson and Smallwood Elementary School teacher Julie Furlong traveled to New York City to receive training in the program.

Link Up differs from a traditional BPO education concert in that it requires a full school year of preparation on the part of the students, learning to play the recorder parts and to sing along with the orchestra. The Weill Music Institute has a resident composer who develops vocal and recorder parts for standard orchestral repertoire and also writes original music for the program. The students attend the concert and perform from their seats, immersing them in the process of making music.

This week, the BPO will present the program for the third time to the third, fourth and fifth graders of Smallwood and Windermere Elementary Schools. The orchestra will travel to Amherst Middle School for the program at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 16. Windermere teacher Mike McCartney will act as Master of Ceremonies, and the Amherst High School Varsity Singers and Sweet Sixteens will lead the vocals in the performance.

The third, fourth and fifth graders at Tapestry Charter School and Charter School for Applied Technologies will come to Kleinhans Music Hall at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 15 for their Link Up experience. This is the second time these schools have participated in this program. Tapestry Charter School’s participation was supported by a grant from the Cameron and Jane Baird Foundation. BPO Associate Conductor Stefan Sanders has visited all four participating schools in preparation for Link Up, and will be leading the concert experience.

“From a conducting standpoint, Link Up is a very gratifying program to offer schools,” said Sanders. “Students get tremendous mental benefits from the process of making music, and it’s great to be able to offer students this depth of experience.”

Buffalo Philharmonic leads Western New York cultural institutions in celebration of composer Charles Ives

For Immediate Release
Contact:Kate Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra


BUFFALO, NY – For one week in April, American composer Charles Ives will be everywhere in Western New York.

The Burchfield Penney Art Gallery, University at Buffalo, and Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries will join the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in exploring the life and music of the man who is considered to be America’s first great classical composer from April 8-14, 2015.


The featured event of the week-long exploration will be the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Charles Ives: An American Maverick” concert held at Kleinhans Music Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 11 and repeated at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12. An audiovisual presentation written and produced by Joe Horowitz with video artist Peter Bogdanovich, will complement the music performed, delving into Ives’ life and examining his place in American intellectual heritage. Baritone William Sharp, an expert on the music of Ives, will join the orchestra in a program that includes “Variations on America,” “Five Songs,” “The Alcotts” from “A Concord Symphony,” Symphony No. 2, and Ives’ best-known work, “The Unanswered Question.” JoAnn Falletta will conduct, and there will be pre- and post-concert discussions both days.Tickets for April 11 and 12 are $29 to-$67 and available by calling (716) 885-5000 or visiting


Sharp and Horowitz will be in town for much of the week. Sharp will offer a free vocal master class to University at Buffalo students and interested members of the community at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 8. The class will take place in the recital hall in Baird Hall on the university’s North Campus.

At noon on Thursday, April 9, Horowitz will deliver a talk on Mark Twain and Charles Ives at the Central Branch of the Buffalo and Erie County library system. Horowitz is the Executive Director of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Music Unwound” consortium, which explores new templates for orchestral concerts, and infuses humanities content into music. The BPO is one of four orchestras that are part of the consortium. Horowitz’s talk, also free of charge, will explore the commonalities between the works of Ives and Twain.


Sharp will perform a free recital in the Mary Seaton Room at Kleinhans Music Hall Thursday evening at 8 p.m. Titled “Ives and Popular Song,” it delves into the ways in which Ives was influenced by the music that surrounded him. Pianist Alison D’Amato will accompany him.


At 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 10, the Burchfield Penney Art Center will offer an exploration of Transcendentalism, and explain how Ives and Charles Burchfield translated the ideas of Thoreau into music and visual art. Buffalo pianist Eric Huebner, who is a member of the faculty at the University at Buffalo and also the staff pianist for the New York Philharmonic, will perform Ives’ Concord Sonata, with interpolated readings by Sharp. Nancy Weekly, Head of Collections at Burchfield Penney, will lead a free talk on Burchfield and Thoreau to start the evening. Tickets to the concert are $10 for non-members and available at


Buffalo’s acclaimed contemporary dance troupe, LehrerDance, will turn Burchfield Penney into a living art space at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 11. Jon Lehrer, Artistic Director of Lehrer Dance, will re-imagine works from the company’s eclectic repertoire to be performed in various galleries of the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The performance takes its inspiration from the story of Charles Ives listening to different marching bands playing simultaneously in his town square, and experiencing the resulting cluster of sounds. That evening, at 7:30 p.m., artist Emil Shult, with members of Institute For Electronic Arts at Alfred, will present a video and sound performance interpreting the songs of Charles Ives. Joining the program will be Buffluxus.


On Sunday, April 12 at 7 p.m., Buffalo’s Harmonia Chamber Singers will perform at the Burchfield Penney gallery. The ensemble has recently performed at Carnegie Hall and released a well-received recording, “Into Light.” Harmonia will perform a range of works, including a tribute to the spirit of Charles Ives. Admission is by freewill offering.


The festival will conclude with a final musical experience at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 14. The Slee Sinfonietta will perform a concert of works by Ives and other composers influenced by him at the University at Buffalo’s Lippes Concert Hall at Slee Hall. Brad Lubman will conduct the concert, which includes Ives’ “Three Places in New England” and “Set of Pieces for Theater or Small Orchestra;” “Piece No. 2 for small orchestra” by Conlon Nancarrow; Carl Ruggles’ “Vox clamans in deserto” and Lou Harrison’s “At the tomb of Charles Ives.” Mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley is soloist. Tickets are $15; $10 for seniors. UB students are free. Call (716) 645-2921.


“We have heard from the public a great desire to learn more about classical music, and this festival is another way in which we’ve sought to fulfill that desire,” said JoAnn Falletta, Music Director of the BPO. “Our participation in the “Music Unwound” consortium has inspired our successful Know The Score series, now in its third season. Ives is a composer that may be unfamiliar to many, but it is our hope that this festival will inspire greater interest in his work, and a greater understanding of the role America has played in classical music’s development.”



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 32 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit



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Buffalo Philharmonic celebrates Beethoven with music, film, lectures and collaboration with Road Less Traveled Productions

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kate Jenkins
Communications Coordinator
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

BUFFALO, NY – In March, the BPO will celebrate classical music’s most beloved and influential composer with a festival, including his groundbreaking Ninth Symphony.


The centerpiece of the festival will be two weeks of concerts of Beethoven’s music on the M&T Classics series. At 8 p.m. Saturday March 21 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22, audiences will have a chance to experience the glory of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony live in the acoustic perfection of Kleinhans Music Hall. The symphony’s grand scale and emotional narrative have made it the most frequently-performed classical work. Its final movement, nicknamed “Ode To Joy” and based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller, will be instantly recognizable. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and soloists Sari Gruber, Ann McMahon Quintero, Robert Breault, and Kevin Deas join the orchestra in performing this touchstone of classical music. The concerts also include a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, written at the dawn of the nineteenth century.  


The following week, Road Less Traveled Productions collaborates with the BPO to provide an exciting dimension to Beethoven’s Complete Incidental Music to “Egmont.” The historical drama “Egmont” was written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and tells the tale of the famous Dutch warrior and nobleman, the Count of Egmont, who valiantly stood against oppression. Beethoven composed the well-known overture and nine incidental pieces for soprano, narrator and orchestra for a revival of the play two decades after its premiere. Buffalo actor Matthew Witten, who was most recently seen in the Irish Classical Theater Company’s production of “A Lion in Winter,” will serve as narrator. Emily Tworek-Helenbrook, an Alexander native who has won many national and international accolades for her vocal performance work, will sing the soprano role. Scott Behrend is the Artistic Director of Road Less Travelled Productions. The lighting design is by John Rickus, and stage management by Susan Dickinson.   


Buffalo favorite Norman Krieger will be the soloist in Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto on the same concerts. Among his early accolades was the Buffalo Philharmonic Young Artists Competition Prize; he has since gone on to win the gold medal at the first Palm Beach Invitational Piano Competition and perform on Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series. The concerts take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 27 and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28. There will be complimentary coffee and doughnuts prior to the March 27 performance.


JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium for both concert weeks. The audience is invited to attend “Musically Speaking,” a discussion held one hour prior to Saturday and Sunday concerts, and ask questions of the conductor and artists before the concerts. “Musically Speaking” is sponsored by Uniland Development.  


In addition to the concerts, the BPO hosts events for the community to learn more about this great composer and his music. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has taken on global significance since its premiere, serving as an anthem of hope for oppressed peoples around the world and an inspiration for many other artists. The documentary film “Following The Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony” will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10 at the Woldman Theater in Norton Hall on the UB North Campus. Filmmaker Kerry Candaele explores the work’s meaning, taking viewers on a journey across five continents and into the heart and soul of one of the world’s greatest works of art. A panel discussion will follow. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 with student ID or a ticket to one of the other Beethoven Festival concerts.


BPO Staff Conductor Paul Ferington will share his perspective on Beethoven and his music at three free BPOvations talks. He will speak at the Downtown Central Library at noon on Wednesday, March 4; at the Orchard Park Library at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4; and at the Amherst Audubon Library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11.


The Festival is sponsored by Superior Group, and the concert sponsor for Beethoven’s Ninth is Hodgson Russ.


For all ticketed events, patrons can call (716) 885-5000 or visit to purchase. Student tickets to BPO concerts are $11 with ID.




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 32 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit



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Lang Lang, Andre Watts, Chris Botti and Pink Martini among guest artists in Buffalo Philharmonic’s 2015-16 Season

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2015-16 Season celebrates the 75th anniversary of Kleinhans Music Hall, with a focus on major guest artists such as Lang Lang, Chris Botti and Andre Watts, and works showcasing the hall’s exquisite acoustics, including the monumental Alpine Symphony by Strauss, Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Patrons will be able to enjoy it all in greater comfort, thanks to major upgrades planned to the hall.

Lang Lang Opens Season

The first event of the new season will be a gala and concert featuring Chinese pianist Lang Lang on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Lang Lang is a piano superstar, earning legions of fans around the globe and major endorsement deals in addition to musical awards. He will join the BPO for a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in an evening of works by Russian composers, with BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta on the podium. The BPO’s annual gala, sponsored by the Louis P. Ciminelli Family Foundation, will take place that evening, and will include a pre-concert dinner catered by Oliver’s, priority seating for gala guests, and a post-concert celebration with desserts and drinks. Subscribers have the first chance at the best seats, as this special event is not part of any subscription series.

New, more comfortable seats installed

When the season opens, patrons will notice that new seats have been installed throughout the hall. The seats were selected by architectural consultant Theodore Lownie and offer 21st-century comfort without compromising the stellar acoustics or appearance of the hall. They replace seats that were installed in 1968, many of which are broken beyond repair. There will be hand rails installed in the balcony, wider balcony aisles, and a wheelchair seating area on the main floor. The capacity of the hall will go from 2800 to 2400, providing a more intimate and comfortable experience.

BPO celebrates Sibelius’ 150th

The first two concerts of the M&T Bank Classics Series will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius, Finland’s best-known composer. JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium for both. On Oct. 3 and 4, the orchestra will perform Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 on a program that also features Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, and a performance of Sebastian Fagerlund’s “Isola.” On Oct. 9 and 10, the BPO will perform Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1, and explore the works of other Finnish composers who walked in Sibelius’ footsteps. Violinist Elina Vahala will join the BPO for the United States premiere of Jaako Kuussisto’s Violin Concerto; the orchestra will also perform Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Symphony No. 1.

Other highlights of the Classics season, from YouTube sensations to masterworks

The 2015-16 M&T Classics season at the BPO will be marked by large-scale masterworks and dynamic guest artists. Perhaps the most striking of these guest artists is ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. Shimabukuro is known for his series of YouTube videos in which he performs music from varied genres on his ukulele, and for the acclaimed documentary “Life on Four Strings,” which examines his attempt to transform the image of his instrument. JoAnn Falletta was involved in the creation and orchestration of the piece he will play, Byron Yasui’s Ukulele Concerto, which was written expressly for Shimabukuro and will receive its world premiere with the Hawaii Symphony under Falletta’s baton in June 2015. 

Andre Watts has been a popular and respected pianist ever since the age of 16, when Leonard Bernstein first chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in their Young People’s Concerts, broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV, and then, only two weeks later, asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt’s E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic. He is frequently seen on PBS, has an extensive discography, and is a perennial audience favorite. He last performed with the BPO in 2009, and returns to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in a program that also includes Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Barber’s Overture to “The School for Scandal.”

Other exciting guest artists include composer/pianist Conrad Tao, who will play John Adams’ “Century Rolls;” versatile violinist Jennifer Koh performing Nielsen’s Violin Concerto; 22-year old Italian pianist Beatrice Rana, who will play Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2; and German cellist Nicholas Altstaedt, who will play Elgar’s Cello Concerto in B minor. Violinist Bella Hristova was heard on the Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s “Gift to the Community” recital series in January 2014, and now makes her BPO debut with a performance of Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy.” Pianist Eldar Nebolsin, who performed on the BPO’s 2010 recording of Ernst von Dohnanyi´s Variations of Nursery Theme, will return to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27. Violinist Mayuko Kamio, who made her BPO debut in the summer of 2014, returns to play Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, “Turkish.” 

In celebration of the Hall, often described as “acoustically perfect,” many masterworks have been programmed to provide audiences with a live concert experience like no other. Among those on tap for next season are Elgar’s “Enigma Variations;” Smetana’s tone poem “The Moldau;” Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Brahms’ Symphonies No. 2 and 3. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus will join the BPO on two very different works: “Dona Nobis Pacem” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and selections from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The season concludes with a performance of Richard Strauss’Alpine Symphony, with a visual component by Tobias Melle titled “An Alpine Symphony in Images.”

The BPO will record the works of Czech composer Vítězslav Novák for the international music label Naxos. Christened Viktor, Novák felt so strongly about his Czech heritage that he changed his first name in his late teens. Novák, who lived from 1870 to 1949, was influenced by Richard Strauss and by the folk music of Moravia and Slovakia. The BPO will perform his Overture to “Lady Godiva;” “In the Tatra Mountains” and “Eternal Longing” for a disc that is expected in late 2016 or early 2017. 

“We’re doing many large scale works, orchestra favorites and audience favorites,” Falletta said of the coming season. “It’s rare to have an opportunity to hear some of these works live, and thrilling to experience them in the spectacular acoustics of Kleinhans Music Hall. You can be inside the music at Kleinhans, and there’s a wonderful freedom to the sound in the hall. Kleinhans’ 75th birthday makes it a great year to celebrate.”  

Pops series to feature favorite superstars, acrobatic feats, rock, swing and jazz

The 2015-16 Pops season is full of surprising and groundbreaking guest artists. Jason Alexander is best known for his portrayal of the shifty, luckless George Costanza on “Seinfeld.” But before his long-running role on the show, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” Post-“Seinfeld,” he continues to light up stages across the country. He joins the BPO on Oct. 17 for an entertaining variety show.

Last fall, the rest of the world learned how wonderful Chris Botti is, thanks to his exceptional performance of the national anthem on Monday Night Football. Buffalo’s favorite jazz trumpeter returns to the BPO on Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

There is no musical act quite like Pink Martini. Described as more of a “little orchestra” than a band, this group brings together top musicians and fuses world music with jazz, classical music and traditional pop to create an unforgettable musical adventure. Pink Martini will make its BPO debut on March 12.

On Halloween, the BPO will go Hollywood with a showing of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece of terror, “Psycho.” Film composer Bernard Hermann wrote the powerful score to this movie, and the BPO will perform it live as you experience “Psycho” on the big screen. Come in costume and stay afterwards for Buffalo’s most “spooktacular” Halloween party, complete with costume contests and more. 

Cirque Mechanics is the brainchild of German Wheel artist Chris Lashua, and is an awe-inspiring blend of mechanical ingenuity, circus acrobatics, and time-tested music, with a dash of humor for good measure. The show will be onstage on April 9, and is a perfect way to introduce children to classical music and the BPO. 

Three fun-filled shows will take audiences back to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. On Sept. 26, “Mad Men” fans can get their musical fix by enjoying Music of the “Mad Men” Era, with Broadway and “30 Rock” star Cheyenne Jackson. On Nov. 14, the music of Simon and Garfunkel gets the BPO treatment as Vocalists A.J Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle re-create the harmonies of this beloved duo. On Feb. 27, Jim Curry joins the BPO in paying tribute to John Denver. Curry’s voice was heard in the CBS movie “Take Me Home: The John Denver Story.”

Eric Jordan Young is a graduate of Williamsville East High School and is on the district’s Wall of Fame due to his success as an entertainer. He got his start performing at Artpark and doing public service announcements for WNED-TV, and has gone on to perform in leading Broadway shows like “Seussical The Musical” and “Ragtime,” and in his own Las Vegas show. He has long had an admiration for Sammy Davis Jr. and in 2006, he presented the world premiere of his one-man musical “Sammy and Me” at MusicalFare. He returns to the community where he grew up to present “Celebrating Sammy: Broadway to Vegas” on April 30.  

Vocal powerhouse Dee Daniels has enjoyed a varied international career and has performed with some of the greatest legends of jazz and R&B. Digging further into the roots of American music, she pays tribute to the “great ladies of swing,” including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee on Jan. 23. 


Holidays at your BPO

The BPO’s holiday concerts have become a tradition for many Western New Yorkers, and this season will offer musical delights from the dawn of the classical tradition to the modern day. On Dec. 11 and 12, Music Director JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium to share her favorite holiday pieces with the audience. The program is slated to include Ralph Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of “Greensleeves,” Mendelssohn’s “The Birthday of Christ,” and Bizet’s “Farandole,” among many others.The biggest weekend of the year will take place on Dec. 18, 19 and 20, as the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joins the BPO for BlueCross BlueShield Holiday Pops, the region’s most beloved holiday tradition.

Know the Score

The BPO’s three-concert Know The Score series has grown in popularity among those seeking to learn more about classical music. The series delves into the story behind the music through multi-media presentations. BPO Associate Conductor Stefan Sanders will be on the podium for all three concerts. Next season, through a grant from the National Endowment for Humanities’ Music Unwound consortium, the series will kick off on Oct. 16 with Copland in Mexico. The concert will explore how Mexican music influenced Aaron Copland, and how he in turn influenced a generation of Mexican composers.

On Jan. 22, the BPO will explore how jazz influenced orchestral music. In recent years, the BPO has recorded the symphonic works of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin, and has also worked with the American Composers Orchestra and Jazz Composers Orchestral Institute to offer workshops to emerging composers. The BPO gives the audience a guided tour of the place where jazz and classical meet in this engaging concert.

When Gustav Holst wrote “The Planets,” Pluto had yet to be discovered, let alone demoted as one of the nine planets of our solar system. Since the landmark public debut of the piece in 1919, humanity has learned much about our celestial neighborhood, mounting ambitious exploration projects such as the Mars Rover, the Voyager probe, and the Hubble telescope. On April 29, visuals from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago will complement Holst’s groundbreaking music to give audiences a look at our place in the cosmos.

Subscribe now for best seats to these concerts

As always, a subscription to the BPO is your best value. Patrons who subscribe save substantially on handling fees, lock in their seats early, and get the first chance to add other concerts to their package before the general public. With Western New York’s most flexible ticket exchange policy, your tickets can change when your schedule does. Single tickets will go on sale for all events on August 8, 2015.
This year, subscribers who renew by March 15 and pay with cash or check will be able to keep the same price as the previous year. Subscription packages range from as few as five concerts, to full seasons of Pops or Classics. To subscribe, call (716) 885-5000 or visit today.

Click here for the Classics flyer

Click here for the Pops flyer
Click here for Classics guest artist photos
Click here for Pops guest artist photos

BPO announces balanced budget, strong ticket sales in 2013-14 season

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra once again achieved a balanced budget for its 2013-14 season.

The orchestra’s $11.3 million in revenue matched its expenses, with 84 percent of its revenue going towards the orchestra and programs. Ticket sales, which have climbed 17 percent since 2009, brought in $3.367 million in revenue. Annual contributed income comprised 38 percent of the budget.

The 2013-14 season, which ended in August 2014, marked the BPO’s ninth balanced budget in the past ten seasons, and the orchestra’s endowment passed the $32 million mark.

An estimated 200,000 people attended a BPO concert during the 2013-14 season. Four CDs were released during the BPO’s 2013-14 season, including the highly-anticipated recording of Reinhold Gliere’s Symphony No. 3, “Il’ya Muromets,” which the BPO performed at Spring For Music at Carnegie Hall in 2013.

A recently-released report to the community examined the orchestra’s progress in three major strategic areas: audience growth, artistic development, and fiscal responsibility. It reviewed highlights of the season, such as the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition; the BPO’s Florida tour and debut on the Schiede Concert Series at Princeton University; and the world premiere of Miguel del Aguila’s Concierto en Tango. The BPO’s education programs reached 40,000 students, and more than 35,000 people attended the BPO’s summer concerts, including performances at the Erie County Fair and at Canalside.

“Week in and week out, our musicians have performed with commitment, excellence and dedication to deliver a world-class musical experience to Western New York audiences,” said BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta. “The community’s support inspires us to continue to achieve great things.”

“We are thankful to our donors and our concertgoers for another great year,” said BPO Executive Director Daniel Hart. “We look forward to building on our success from a position of strength, and continuing to serve the Western New York community which has responded so wholeheartedly to our endeavors.”

“While balancing its artistic integrity with strong fiscal management, the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra has earned the support of our Community”, said BPO Board Chair Louis P. Ciminelli.”Buffalo’s renaissance is in full swing, and the BPO is proud to be contributing to it. It is an exciting time to be involved with the orchestra.”

To view a copy of the 2014 Report to the Community, click here.

Tablescapes 2015 benefits Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

BUFFALO, NY – The Buffalo Philharmonic will host its biennial Tablescapes fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, 6461 Transit Road at Genesee Street.

The event features a three-hour open bar, hors d’oeuvres and desserts, and imaginative table displays from some of Buffalo’s finest designers, florists, restaurants, shops, and cultural organizations. All displays will be available through silent auction, with proceeds benefitting the BPO.

Among the prizes are dinner and wine tasting for six at 800 Maple; a cooking class for 12 from Auburn Watson; wine tasting for 12 at Georgetown Wine and Liquor; coffee for a year and a French press from McCullagh Coffee;a family-style dinner, chef’s choice, for four people with wines paired to each course at Trattoria Aroma; and items from Macy’s, Mikasa, Russell’s Steak House, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, The Buffalo Bisons and Bloom Floristry.

Varied cultural organizations in Western New York have contributed displays, including O’Connell and Company; Explore and More Children’s Museum; Burchfield Penney Art Gallery; Albright Knox Art Gallery; Neglia Ballet; The Buffalo Botanical Gardens; The Niagara Aquarium; The Buffalo Zoo and Buffalo Museum of Science.

Tickets for the event are $35. Purchase in advance by contacting BPO Special Events Coordinator Jim Cichocki at or (716) 242-7825, or purchase at the door on the night of the event.

Kleinhans Music Hall Announces Major Grants for Revitalization Campaign

BUFFALO, NY – This summer, after the close of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s season and the last of the high school graduations, the well-worn, circa-1968 seats in the National Historic Landmark’s Main Auditorium will be replaced thanks to the generosity of local foundations, Christopher N. Brown, Chair of the Board of Directors of Kleinhans Management Music Hall, Inc. today announced.

“What better way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the hall than by improving the patron experience,” said Brown. “The Kleinhans family donated this money to provide an atmosphere in which the people of Western New York could enjoy great music and events in comfort. The change is very much in line with their vision. Now, new philanthropy will provide a fresh start for the building. We are grateful to the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, and M&T Bank for providing major funding to make the seat replacement possible.”  

Kleinhans Music Hall opened in 1940 as the home of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It was built thanks to the generosity and vision of Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans and the stewardship of their charitable dreams by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. The Community Foundation was bequeathed the estates of Mr. and Mrs. Kleinhans, who made their fortune from the clothing store that bore their name, and who died within three months of each other in 1934. Designed by famous Finnish father-and-son architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen, the building is renowned for its acoustics and its classical modernist elegance.

“The venue should continue to match the greatness of this Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and we are thrilled to be able to contribute to these important facility updates,” said Robert D. Gioia, president of the John R. Oishei Foundation.   

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to play a part in the restoration of Kleinhans Music Hall. The quality of this historic venue is so closely tied to the greatness of our Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as to our region’s  architectural legacy,” said Shelley C. Drake, president of The M&T Charitable Foundation.

The seat replacement is part of a five-year, $4 million renovation plan. A number of important projects have been completed, including expansion of the women’s lavatory on the lower level, removal of carpeting under the seats on the main floor, and repair of woodwork throughout the hall. The building has also been refitted with a new HVAC system, an updated electrical system, and cost-efficient lighting, thanks to major investments from the City of Buffalo via Mayor Byron Brown, and the State of New York through the Dormitory Authority.

The renovation will include the installation of hand rails in the balcony, and the creation of a wheelchair seating area on the main floor. The balcony aisles will be wider. In many cases, the new seats will offer more generous proportions. To accommodate these changes, the seating capacity of the hall will be reduced from the current 2800 to 2400, providing a more comfortable and intimate concert experience.

“The seats have been showing wear and tear for some time. This will be second time for replacement. We will pay close attention to Eliel and Eero Saarinen’s original seat specifications, and use the same materials to the extent possible,” said Theodore Lownie, architectural consultant for the hall.

Lownie drew on conversations with renowned acoustician Leo Beranek in choosing the new seats. Beranek has written extensively about the acoustics in Kleinhans, and is familiar with both the original and current seats. The new seats will retain the materials and qualities of both versions. The new seats will look similar to the current seats, with wooden seatbacks, metal frames, similar upholstery, and placement along the same metal rail system.

These improvements will be completed in time for the start of the 2015-16 BPO season and the 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the Hall on October 12, 2015. Fundraising for these and other improvements is ongoing. To learn how to contribute, contact Sarah Carney at  

New CD celebrates recent works commissioned by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

BUFFALO, NY – Classical music can now be added to the long and storied list of things built in Buffalo.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s newest CD, “Built For Buffalo,” is a collection of three works written by living composers and commissioned by the orchestra. Released on the orchestra’s own Beau Fleuve label, it celebrates recent additions to the solo violin and solo cello repertoire, and highlights the first triple trombone concerto written by a major composer.

The theme of Miguel del Aguila’s “Concierto en Tango” was suggested by the person it was composed for: principal cellist Roman Mekinulov. As former principal cellist of Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo in Brazil, Mekinulov performed frequently not only throughout the country, but with most of the major orchestras of Argentina and Peru. The piece premiered at the close of the BPO’s 2013-14 season, and del Aguila himself joined the orchestra to perform the piano part. Incorporating tango styles dating from the mid-1800s to the 1950s, “Concierto en Tango” evokes nostalgia for a bygone Argentina.

Daron Hagen’s Songbook for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion premiered in May 2011, with Michael Ludwig performing the solo violin part. Dedicated to Ludwig and BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta, it was inspired by the folk songs and spirituals that Hagen’s wife sings to their young son. Listeners will detect hints of Irish melodies, folk hymns and Appalachian tunes in the piece. BPO harpist Suzanne Thomas, BPO percussionists Mark Hodges and Dinesh Joseph, and the BPO string sections can also be heard on this recording. Hagen has worked with the BPO on several previous occasions, including the premiere recording of his opera “Shining Brow,” about Frank Lloyd Wright.

Closing out the CD is the highly-anticipated recording of the Triple Concerto for Three Trombones and Orchestra by Eric Ewazen. This piece premiered in November 2012 to much acclaim. Since then, BPO trombonists Jonathan Lombardo, Timothy Smith, and Jeffrey Dee have performed it at the 2013 Eastern Trombone Workshop in Virginia and with the Interlochen World Youth Orchestra in Interlochen, Michigan. They presented a wind band version of the piece at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Illinois with the Brooklyn Wind Symphony in December 2013.

“Our commissioning project is a tribute to five of our musicians, and clearly reflects their particular interests and musicianship,” said BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta, who conducted each piece on the disc. “The orchestra shares with its home city a proud spirit of both innovation and respect for tradition. With pieces that borrow from the folk and classical traditions to create something new, this disc captures perfectly the spirit of Buffalo.”

The CD is $15, and is available at or at the Buffalo Philharmonic Box Office in Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle. The Box Office is open from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, and during BPO concerts. The BPO has 31 other CDs for sale. Call (716) 885-5000 for details.




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 32 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit



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