The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra brings all of the sounds of the season to Western New Yorkers. The holiday festivities kick off on Thanksgiving weekend, when the BPO joins Neglia Ballet Artists at Shea's Buffalo for the classic ballet "The Nutcracker." Erin Freeman will lead the orchestra. Audiences can experience this beloved tradition at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. Tickets are available by visiting www.sheas.org or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
After its performance at Shea's, the BPO will perform Handel's "Messiah" with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus at 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. Freeman, the new music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, is on the podium for this sure-to-sell-out concert, taking place at Our Lady of Victory Basilica, 767 Ridge Road, Lackawanna. Tickets are $20 to $40 and are available at www.bpchorus.org.
Audiences can experience centuries of Christmas music with "Classic Christmas" at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Ron Spigelman leads a program that spans the entire classical tradition, from the Baroque flourishes of Corelli's "Christmas Concerto" to the Romantic sounds of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," to the commissioned-for-TV opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" by Menotti. The internationally known Castellani Andriaccio Guitar Duo, based in Amherst, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus will join the orchestra for this concert of Christmas classics.
Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Friday for complimentary coffee and donuts. At 7 p.m. Saturday, the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Select Guitar Ensemble performs as part of the Community Spotlight program. This program, sponsored by Bank of America, shines the spotlight on a talented local ensemble before select BPO concerts throughout the season.
Joanne Castellani and Michael Andriaccio have served as the artistic directors of the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition since its inception, and also run the Fleur De Son classical recording label. They have performed at the White House and Lincoln Center, and with orchestras all over the world. Also sought-after pedagogues, they are frequent guest instructors at conservatories and colleges across the nation, and have a teaching studio in Snyder. They will perform Vivaldi's Concerto in G Major.
Australian native Spigelman was the BPO's associate conductor from 2001-05, and is currently music director of the Lake Placid Sinfonietta. He maintains an active guest-conducting schedule. He is co-author of the Sticks and Drones blog at www.insidethearts.com.
'Jingle Bell Jam'
Spigelman returns to the BPO podium the following day for an afternoon of family fun with "Jingle Bell Jam" at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. With tickets priced at only $20 for adults and $13 for children, it's a budget-friendly way for the entire family to celebrate the season together. Watch trombones turn into horses with the holiday favorite, "Sleigh Ride," enjoy the spirited sounds of "March of the Toys" from "Babes in Toyland," and sing along to the season's most beloved carols. Children can come early and make a card to be sent to Marines stationed far from home and enjoy milk and cookies with Santa after the concert.
"Holiday Pops" is always one of the BPO's biggest concerts of the year. With Falletta on the podium; Buffalo native turned Broadway star Michele Ragusa as a special guest artist; the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus; and the region's best young vocal talent, this year's "Holiday Pops" will be one for the books. Concerts take place at 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13; at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14; and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.
Western New Yorkers adored Ragusa in the one-woman show "Bad Dates" at the late, great Studio Arena Theater. Broadway audiences enjoyed her talents in "Young Frankenstein," "Ragtime" and "Titanic," among others. She has sparkled in previous engagements with the BPO, and returns to Western New York to make the season bright.
In addition to its 75-year history of delivering quality choral music, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus also has a robust choral mentoring program. Students work side-by-side with the chorus to rehearse and perform a professional-level concert. This year, they've expanded their program to work with three high school choruses for Holiday Pops. The choruses of Barker Central High School and Oakfield Alabama High School will perform at Kleinhans on Friday. The chorus of West Seneca West High School will be on stage Saturday and Sunday.
Participating in all four Holiday Pops performances is the award-winning Vox Caeciliae of Immaculata Academy, located in Hamburg. Vox Caeciliae, led by Kathleen Bassett, made their BPO debut in June, performing Boito's "Prologue in Heaven" from "Mephistofele," and recently sang with the BPO in the "Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch." They were awarded the Gold with Distinction honor at the NYSSMA Zone 1 Major Organization Festival, and recently presented a world premiere piece at the school.
Theatrical-quality decorations make Kleinhans Music Hall festive, and the hall's concessions will be serving special holiday cocktails.
In the spirit of the season, Kleinhans Music Hall is serving as a drop-off point for the U.S. Marines Toys For Tots campaign. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to a concert or to the hall anytime during box office hours to participate. The box office is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Tickets for "Classic Christmas," "Jingle Bell Jam" and "Holiday Pops" are available by calling (716) 885-5000 or visiting www.bpo.org. All three concerts will be held at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.