BPO Musician Portraits with JoAnn Falletta

The BPO and JoAnn Falletta have partnered with Buffalo Toronto Public Media to present “BPO Musician Portraits with JoAnn Falletta,” a six-part musical showcase of television specials on WNED PBS featuring select musicians from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. These intimate concerts, introduced by JoAnn Falletta, feature performances from principal cellist Roman Mekinulov and pianist Eric Huebner, associate principal cellist Feng Hew and violinist Shieh-Jian Tsai, principal harpist Madeline Olson, BPO concertmaster Nikki Chooi, our woodwind quintet featuring principal oboist Henry Ward, clarinetist Patti Dilutis, principal bassoonist Glenn Einschlag, principal French hornist Jacek Muzyk, and Eric Huebner (piano), and our brass quintet featuring principal trumpeter Alex Jokipii, trumpeter Geoffrey Hardcastle, principal French hornist Jacek Muzyk, principal trombonist Jonathan Lombardo, and bass trombonist Felipe Pereira.

The schedule for these half-hour broadcasts on WNED PBS can be found below. Check local listings for station information.

“BPO Musician Portraits with JoAnn Falletta” is funded in part by Cindy and Francis Letro, proud supporters of Buffalo Toronto Public Media and The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Broadcast Schedule

Monday, August 24, 7:30pm

BPO Brass Quintet
Alex Jokipii,
Geoffrey Hardcastle, trumpet
Jacek Muzyk, French horn
Jonathan Lombardo, trombone
Filipe Pereira, bass trombone

DUKAS  Fanfare from La Peri
KAMEN  Quintet
MCKEE  Vuelta Del Fuego
SCHEIDT  Canzona Bergamasca
BERNSTEIN  Selections from West Side Story

Program Notes
by Edward Yadzinski

Paul Dukas
French composer
born: 1 October 1865, Paris; died: 17 May 1935, Paris

La PériFanfare

Paul Dukas studied at the Paris Conservatory where he later became a Professor of Composition. Today he is celebrated for just two works, the colorful Sorcerer’s Apprentice (based on the witty fable by Goethe made doubly popular as a feature in Walt Disney’s Fantasia), and his masterpiece for ballet theater, La Péri, of which the spectacular Fanfare is particularly well-known.

As a full ballet, La Péri was first produced in 1912. The full score presents a fantastic Persian legend inspired by Alexander the Great. In sum, the hero, Iskender, steals the Pure White Flower of Immortality from the hand of an innocent sleeping fairy, Péri. Without her flower, Péri cannot rejoin the God of Light. Ever resourceful, she puts her innocence aside and begins to entice Iskender with a seductive dance. Of course, Iskender can not resist. Before his very eyes the Flower of Immortality changes to a shade of Crimson Desire. The hopeless hero succumbs to Péri’s beauty and returns the sacred flower to her willfully and without regret. Péri then releases the love-sick Iskender to the shadows of earth as she rises to paradise bearing the sacred flower, now radiant under golden snow.

The full ballet score is in three sections without pause, featuring a set of orchestral variations interlaced with the suggestive themes of Iskender and La Péri. As a prelude, Dukas attached a Fanfare for full orchestral brass, a spectacular show-piece of heralding force and luster.

Michael Arnold Kamen
American composer
born: April 15, 1948, New York City; died: November 18, 2003

Quintet for Brass

Michael Kamen was a prolific composer of about 70 film scores for major studios like Disney and Warner Brothers, with titles including The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood and Die Hard. He also worked as an arranger for television specials and leading rock groups, including Pink Floyd.

Kamen scored his Quintet for brass in 2001 on commission from the Canadian Brass. Cast in B-flat major and marked Adagio, the evocative work features lambent and lyrical lines for all five players. Kamen’s gift for modern but lush harmonies is revealed throughout the piece, delivering a work of poignant nuance in the manner of a musical memoir, at once tender and telling.

Kevin McKee
American trumpeter and composer
born: 1980, California

Vuelta Del FuegoRide of Fire

Kevin McKee is a contemporary example of the age-old tradition of fine performers who composed new works for their respective instruments. The tradition traces back to the wealth of the great violin works from the Italian Late Baroque by Corelli, Vivaldi, and many others, and continued in the centuries which followed by the brilliant keyboard works of Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, etc.

In 2008 McKee composed a dazzling brass quintet based upon the entertaining pasodoble dance motif which is so popular in Spanish speaking regions around the world. The pasodoble (double time step) originated in Spain as an upbeat military march which quickly became a flamenco-styled folk dance.

McKee’s setting also features mariachi band trumpets in a leading role with feisty pyrotechnics and flamboyant accents. Just about midway the music offers a suggestive Malaguena in a moderated tempo before the fiery energy resumes to close in punctuated B-flat major.

Samuel Scheidt
German composer
born: 3 November 1587; died: 24 March 1654

Canzona Bergamasca

A canzona is a general title from the Baroque Age designating an instrumental set of variations on a particular theme. The bergamasca is a melodic theme that was adapted in hundreds of secular settings by composers from the Early Baroque through the time of Bach. The pieces were widely adapted for virtually any ensemble as needed for diverse services in the church.

Scheidt scored many such works for various combinations of instruments including the brass. A particular difficulty for the Baroque brass players was that the instruments did not have valves to facilitate scale-wise passages as required commonly by the music. Indeed, their efforts were virtually heroic. In any case, the musical results were much admired.

Leonard Bernstein
American composer, pianist and conductor
born: 25 August 1918, Lawrence, MA; died: 14 October 1990, New York City

West Side Story Selections

Bernstein’s West Side Story has been a mainstay of American music since the moment of its premiere on Broadway in 1957. The catchy tunes, zesty rhythms and dance scenes have been arranged for dozens of ensembles, with and without voices, and all with wonderful effect. The score likewise lends itself to both the lyrical and zesty elements of a fine brass ensemble.

For local reference, Bernstein appeared here in Buffalo with the Philharmonic at Kleinhans on two occasions: as a piano soloist and conductor in the late 1940s and again in 1964 on the BPO podium.