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Our annual celebration of Mozart’s birthday features a double concerto, Sinfonia Concertante, with concertmaster Nikki Chooi and principal violist Caroline Gilbert. The “Paris” Symphony is one of Mozart’s most famous with its grand and thrilling opening, and his Coronation Mass gained acclaim as the preferred music for royal and imperial coronations in eighteenth-century Europe.
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Nikki Chooi, violin
Caroline Gilbert, viola
Rachel Mikol, soprano
Lynne McMurtry, contralto
Gene Stenger, tenor
Kevin Deas, bass-baritone
Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus
Adam Luebke, BPC music director
MOZART Symphony No. 31, “Paris”
MOZART Sinfonia Concertante
MOZART Coronation Mass
About Nikki Chooi
Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi, praised for his passionate and poetic performances, has established himself as an artist of rare versatility. Described as “vigorous, colorful” by the New York Times, he has received critical acclaim in recent engagements at the Harris Theatre in Chicago, Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall and Kauffman Center in New York, Koerner Hall in Toronto, Place des Arts and Salle Bourgie in Montreal, as well as appearing as soloist with orchestras across Canada including the Montréal, Winnipeg, and Edmonton Symphonies, the Calgary Philharmonic, and internationally with the St. Petersburg State Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Wallonie, National Orchestra of Belgium, Auckland Philharmonia, Malaysian Philharmonic, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. He has been featured with performances at the Marlboro Festival, Ravinia Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Vancouver Recital Series, Moritzburg Festival, Kammermusik Utrecht, Dresden Music Festival, Olympus Festival in Russia, and Fundación Beethoven in Chile.
Nikki served as Concertmaster of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2016/2017 while working closely with singers and conductors including Renée Fleming, Elīna Garanča, Eric Owens, Fabio Luisi, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. His solos can be heard through The Met: Live in HD broadcasts in productions of Verdi’s La Traviata, Janacek’s Jenufa, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Strauss’ Rosenkavalier released on the Decca Label. He has also appeared as Guest Concertmaster with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Sydney Symphony, and Houston Symphony.
A passionate educator, Nikki has presented masterclasses at the San Francisco Conservatory, Morningside Music Program at the New England Conservatory, Sphinx Academy at the Curtis Institute of Music, Hong Kong Cultural Center, and the University of Auckland. A recipient of prizes at the Queen Elizabeth and Tchaikovsky Competitions, Nikki was the 1st Prize Winner of the Montreal Symphony’s Standard Life Competition, the Klein International Strings Competition, and the Michael Hill International Violin Competition.
In 2015, Nikki was a violinist in the cross-over ensemble, Time for Three. In collaboration with From the Top and Universal Music, the group released a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” to record-breaking views on YouTube.
He released his debut album of works by Prokofiev, Ravel, and Gershwin on the Atoll Label.
About Caroline Gilbert
Growing up in Bloomington, IN, Caroline played violin in the pre-college program at Indiana University. She switched to viola when she went to college where she started at Vanderbilt University, double majoring in music and pre-med for two years, before transferring to Indiana University to complete her Bachelor of Music, studying viola with Atar Arad. While at Indiana, she won the concerto competition and performed Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher as a soloist with the university chamber orchestra, and represented the school at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., performing in the “Conservatory Project” concert series.
For her M.M. she attended The Juilliard School, studying with Samuel Rhodes and Roger Tapping. Her performance in the Keshet Elion summer mastercourse in Israel was broadcast in New York, and she went on to play with the New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; worked with Michael Tilson Thomas as a member of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra in Sydney, Australia; toured Turkey, Spain, and Germany with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra; played alongside the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival; and spent three summers in Switzerland playing with the Verbier Festival Orchestra.
After completing her degrees, she joined the New World Symphony until winning the BPO Principal Viola position in 2017. To pursue her love of traveling and collaboration, she plays in the Arizona Music Festival and spends summers in Jackson Hole, WY as a member of the Grand Teton Music Festival orchestra.
About Rachel Mikol
Soprano Rachel Mikol is a passionate performer on a wide variety of musical stages. This season, she joined the New York Philharmonic Chorus for the opening night galas in the brand-new David Geffen Hall. Rachel is a member of the all-professional Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Chamber Choir and this past fall was the featured soloist in Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning. She also enjoys singing regularly with the Bard Festival Chorale for both its operatic and choral performances.
Recently, Rachel performed background vocals for country artists Ashley McBryde and John Osborne on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She will return to St. Petersburg Opera in March to cover Marzelline in Fidelio.
Rachel continues to engage with various new music projects, most recently with Aural Compass Projects for its fall concert and with American Lyric Opera as Lynn in its production of The Halloween Tree. She was a frequent soloist and member of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble and performed as Mary Bailey in the collegiate premiere of Jake Heggie and Gene
Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Additional operatic credits include Gilda (cover) in Rigoletto with St. Petersburg Opera, Marie (cover) in La fille du régiment with Opera Saratoga, Frasquita in Carmen with Opéra Louisiane, and Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music with Opera Ithaca.
Rachel is a Buffalo native and is thrilled to be returning to the BPO after performing in JoAnn’s Classical Christmas in 2019.
About Lynne McMurtry
Described as “a force of nature” (Toronto Star) and “an actress of immense talent” (Opera Canada), Lynne McMurtry’s credits include Arsace in Rossini’s Semiramide with Opera in Concert, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff with Calgary Opera and Opera Hamilton, and Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana with Edmonton Opera. Other recent performances include Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Lyra and Bloody Mary in South Pacific with Pacific Opera Victoria.
Lynne’s rich contralto instrument and keen musical intelligence have brought her acclaim in a wealth of opera and orchestral concert repertoire. Orchestral credits include Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass with the Edmonton Symphony, Handel’s Messiah with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Elijah with the Newfoundland Symphony, Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with the Winnipeg Symphony, and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Symphony New Brunswick. In Western NY she frequently solos with the WNY Chamber Orchestra, the Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus, the Buffalo Chamber Players, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.
On CD, Lynne can be heard as Roberto in Vivaldi’s La Griselda and Nixit Dominus, with Kevin Mallon conducting the Aradia Ensemble (Naxos). Her recording of The Complete Songs of Virgil Thompson with the Florestan Recital Project was a “Pick of the Month” for BBC Music Magazine.
Lynne is on the voice faculty of SUNY Fredonia and is a Founding Faculty Artist of the Vancouver International Song Institute. She received her Master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
About Gene Stenger
Hailed as an “impressive tenor” (The New York Times) who sings with “sweet vibrancy” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer) Gene Stenger is one of the country’s most called upon Bach specialists who is also heralded for his performances of oratorios by Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Mozart.
Gene’s 2022-2023 season includes solo debuts with both the Helena Symphony (Handel’s Messiah), and Canticum Novum (Bach’s Mass in B Minor) and returning solo appearances with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony (Britten’s Serenade), Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (Handel’s Messiah), Colorado Bach Ensemble (Handel’s Messiah, & Bach’s St. Matthew Passion), Baldwin Wallace University’s Bach Festival (Mass in B Minor), the Handel Society of Dartmouth College (Britten’s Serenade, & Mozart’s Coronation Mass), TENET Vocal Artists (Bach’s Magnificat, & Easter Oratorio), and Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity New York (BWV 62, 243, 126, & 249).
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Gene holds degrees from Yale University’s School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, Colorado State University, and Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music. Recent discography credits include the role of the Minstrel (Narrator) in the world premiere recording of Arnold Rosner’s opera The Chronicle of Nine with Odyssey Opera and BMOP, tenor soloist in Schmelzer’s Le Memorie Dolorose with TENET Vocal Artists and ACRONYM, and tenor soloist on Yale Schola Cantorum’s album Fauré Requiem and other sacred music led by David Hill released on Hyperion Records. He currently resides in New Haven, CT, where he serves as an instructor of voice at Yale University.
About Kevin Deas
Kevin Deas has gained international renown as one of America’s leading bass-baritones. He is perhaps most acclaimed for his signature portrayal of the title role in Porgy and Bess, having performed it with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Symphony and other illustrious orchestras in North America, as well as at the Ravinia, Vail and Saratoga festivals.
Kevin Deas’ 2022-23 season includes performances of Mozart’s Requiem with the Toronto Symphony and North Carolina Symphony, Haydn’s The Creation with the Minnesota Orchestra, Bernstein’s SongFest with the Seattle Symphony, Verdi’s Requiem with the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park and Rhode Island Philharmonic, Berlioz’s Romeo & Juliet with the Cathedral Choral Society in Washington, D.C., and Handel’s Messiah with the National Cathedral, Handel & Haydn Society and ProMusica Columbus.
A strong proponent of contemporary music, Kevin Deas was heard at Italy’s Spoleto Festival in a new production of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors in honor of the composer’s eighty-fifth birthday, recorded on video for international release. He also performed the world premieres of Derek Bermel’s The Good Life with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Hannibal Lokumbe’s Dear Mrs. Parks with the Detroit Symphony. His twenty-year collaboration with the late jazz legend Dave Brubeck has taken him to Salzburg, Vienna and Moscow in performances of To Hope! He performed Brubeck’s Gates of Justice in a gala performance in New York.
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