West Side Connection week features community and school events

West Side Connection week features community and school events

BUFFALO, NY – The BPO’s award-winning West Side Connection education program takes place during the first week of February, and this year, its influence will spread beyond the schools.

For Immediate Release
Jan. 30, 2018
Contact: Kate Jenkins
BPO Communications Coordinator
(716) 242-7819

Robin Parkinson
BPO Education Director
(716) 242-7808

The program is a partnership between the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Public Schools. Through educational activities, guest artist visits and a culminating concert, this project involves students in the 12 Buffalo Public Schools in the neighborhood of Kleinhans, including three Spanish bilingual schools, a Native American magnet school and three international schools serving the West Side population of recent and past immigrants from diverse countries. Its goals are to explore diversity through music, to reinforce and enhance the school curriculum, and to connect the BPO with the community in a meaningful way. The culminating concert is always made available on demand to classrooms around the region, with upwards of 15,000 students experiencing it each year.

The community will also have several opportunities to hear the guest artists in concert. Project Trio is a Brooklyn-based ensemble educated at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Consisting of a cellist, bassist and flutist, they are among the most-watched ensembles on YouTube and are passionate about expanding the boundaries of classical music and guiding children in exploring what instruments can do. On Sunday, Feb. 4, they will perform with the BPO on the BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids series at Kleinhans Music Hall. The concert begins at 2:30 p.m., with doors opening at 1:30 for free activities. On Tuesday, Feb. 6, they will perform on their own in Kleinhans’ intimate Mary Seaton Room at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at bpo.org for both events.

Cellist Ifetayo Ali is the winner of the 2017 Sphinx Competition. The Sphinx Organization was founded to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music and to create positive change in the arts and in communities. Fifteen-year-old Ali was also the second-place winner in the 2016 Sphinx Competition. Based in the Chicago area, she has performed with the Wilmington (NC) Symphony, New World Symphony, and Detroit Symphony. On Sunday, Feb. 4, she will give a free recital at 3 p.m. at St. Martin de Porres Church, 555 Northampton St., Buffalo. She will be joined by the All-City Gospel Youth Choir and the Muhammed School of Music Chamber Players. The recital, titled “In Harmony Community Concert,” is sponsored by the BPO’s Diversity Council.

Project Trio and Ali will spend Monday and Tuesday at the schools that participate in the West Side Connection program. Ali will visit Lafayette High School at 9 a.m. and Dr. Antonia Pantoja Community School of Academic Excellence at 11 a.m. on Feb. 5; and International Prep and West Hertel at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 6, respectively. Project Trio will visit Hutch Tech at 10:15 a.m on Feb. 5. Students from the other participating West Side Connection schools will be bused to these locations.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 10 a.m., Ali and Project Trio will be back at Kleinhans to perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Stefan Sanders. The students that they engaged with earlier in the week will comprise the live audience for the concert, which is being captured on video and streamed on demand to classrooms in Western New York’s eight counties. An estimated 1,800 students will attend the concert. Registration is still available, and teachers may go online at bpo.org to gain access to the program.

“Each West Side Connection program is more than a year in the making,” said BPO Education Director Robin Parkinson. “I work closely with a team of educators and musicians to develop the program. The result is an event that truly connects children to the power of music and helps them gain an appreciation for the beautiful mosaic of cultures and ethnicities that can be found right in Kleinhans’ neighborhood. The BPO is everyone’s orchestra, and this concert helps fulfill that promise.”


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 43 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit www.bpo.org.