BPO to welcome Renée Fleming, Leon Botstein, Matthew Morrison, Ben Vereen
Beethoven and Rachmaninoff showcases, collaborations with the Irish Classical Theater Company and the University at Buffalo, and the energy of Broadway and The Cotton Club are just a few aspects of the Buffalo Philharmonic's 2014-15 season.
Gala Season Opening
The season opens Saturday, Sept. 13, with a performance by America's most beloved soprano, Renée Fleming, returning to the Kleinhans stage for the first time in eight years. Fleming is a favorite of the opera stage and concert hall, and has performed at the 2006 Nobel Prize ceremony, the 2008 Olympic games, and the 2014 Super Bowl. A gala evening, including dinner and a post-concert reception, will surround the concert. Sponsored by the Louis P. Ciminelli Family Foundation, the funds raised benefit the Buffalo Philharmonic's educational programs.
M&T Bank Classics Series (The full season is available here.)
The classical season opens with a two-week Rachmaninoff Festival, including "The Sea and the Seagull," "The Bells" and "The Isle of the Dead." Venezuelan pianist and Van Cliburn semifinalist Gabriela Martinez joins the BPO to perform Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1. Buffalo favorite Fabio Bidini, who joined the BPO for its most recent recording of Marcel Tyberg's work, is performing the Piano Concerto No. 2.
A celebration of Beethoven in the spring features blockbusters, including the beloved Symphony No. 9, "Choral" with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, and "Emperor" piano concerto performed by Norman Krieger. JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium for both festivals.
Each year, the BPO seeks out new talent to bring to Western New York. This season, the orchestra welcomes violinist Tai Murray, Israeli cellist Amit Peled, rising star pianist Natasha Paremsky and celebrated tenor William Sharp to the Kleinhans stage for the first time.
Returning audience favorites include firebrand Canadian pianist Alain Lefèvre, leading solo harpist Yolanda Kondonassis performing with Cleveland Orchestra principal flutist Joshua Smith, and pianist Yoonie Han. Violinist Tim Fain performed his groundbreaking "Portals" project at the University at Buffalo last year to critical acclaim, and returns to the region to perform with the BPO. When the scheduled performer fell ill at the close of the BPO's 2012-13 season, violinist Rachel Lee Priday stepped in to save the day. She returns to perform Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1.
Guest conductors include former BPO music director Maximiano Valdés; Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus music director Erin Freeman, who will lead the Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic in Handel's "Messiah" for "Classical Christmas"; Albany Symphony Orchestra conductor David Alan Miller; and American Symphony Orchestra music director and Bard College President Leon Botstein.
The BPO will highlight two of its own. Concertmaster Michael Ludwig's annual concerto performance has become a much-anticipated tradition. This season, he will play Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor on a concert that also features Sibelius' "The Swan of Tuonela." Principal French horn Jacek Muzyk will celebrate the Polish roots of Buffalo as well as his own Polish background. He will perform Penderecki's Horn Concerto on a program featuring works by Polish composers.
This season features collaborations with area arts organizations. The Irish Classical Theatre and LehrerDance will join the BPO for a semi-staged performance of Moliere's "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Would-Be Gentleman)." The orchestra will perform the incidental music composed by Richard Strauss.
Charles Ives is considered to be the first famous American composer. He was influenced by the Transendentalist movement, by American popular music movements such as ragtime and Tin Pan Alley, and by the European Modernist movement. His work has challenged and polarized audiences, but no one can deny its vital creativity. The BPO will explore his works with the "Charles Ives: An American Maverick" concerts, which includes a multimedia presentation. The Burchfield Penney Art Gallery, the Buffalo and Erie County Libraries, and the University at Buffalo are creating events around this concert exploring the work and legacy of Ives.
The classics season ends with Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 1 in D Major, "Titan."
BlueCross BlueShield Pops Series (The full Pops Series is available here.)
Before Matthew Morrison won the hearts of the nation as ever-optimistic teacher Will Schuester on "Glee," he wowed Broadway audiences with leading roles in "Hairspray," "The Light in the Piazza" and other shows. He has been nominated for Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk awards for his work, and has recently released a new album of standards titled "Where It All Began." Fans of "Glee" and lovers of musicals will relish the opportunity to see him in his BPO debut on Sept. 27 as the kick-off to the BlueCross BlueShield Pops Series.
Ben Vereen is celebrated for his versatility as a performer. He originated roles in Broadway hits such as "Pippin" and "Jesus Christ Superstar." He starred in the classic TV miniseries "Roots," and in the film version of "Sweet Charity," among many others. He has won Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk awards for his work.
Megan Hilty got her start on Broadway as the understudy for Glinda in "Wicked," and was quickly promoted to principal. She made the crossover from the "Great White Way" to the small screen with roles in "Bones," "The Closer" and "Ugly Betty." With back-to-back roles as Ivy in "Smash" and Liz in "Sean Saves the World," her credibility as a television star is well-established. With her BPO debut under the baton of New York Pops conductorSteven Reineke, she returns to her Broadway roots.
The BlueCross BlueShield Pops Series will offer a trip down memory lane. Supergroup The Hit Men is comprised of rock veterans who have performed with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Elton John and Kiki Dee, Cat Stevens, and Jim Croce, and will take audiences on a guided tour of rock history. Jay White captures the sound and spirit of Neil Diamond with such accuracy that fans react to him as if he were the real deal. Steve Lippia is a perennial favorite of BPO audiences and returns with his Sinatra act.
The BPO pays tribute to the all-American sounds of jazz and big band. The Glenn Miller Orchestra has been performing together since the 1960s, and provides a living link to the glory days of big band music. Byron Stripling, artistic director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and singer and Broadway star Marva Hicks pay tribute to two of the best American musicians in "Ella, Louis and All That Jazz." Under the baton of jazz conductor Matt Catingub, pianist Kevin Cole interprets the music of George Gershwin.
Season Tickets On Sale Now
Subscription packages in all sizes, from the full 17-concert "Classics Master's Series," or the full 12-concert "Pops Series," to convenient five-concert series are now available. The BPO offers many different options to fit patron tastes and lifestyles. Prices start at $70 for new subscribers to a five-concert classical series. The BPO provides the most flexible ticket exchange program in Western New York, allowing subscribers to exchange tickets for other concerts easily. There are many other valuable benefits to subscribing, including:
•Ticket concierge services - expert assistance for all ticketing needs;
•Priority seating so one can keep, or upgrade, seats from year to year;
•Invitations to purchase additional ticket and tickets to special events, including "The Nutcracker" at Shea's, prior to the general public;
•Free ticket replacement service in the event tickets are lost or stolen;
•Considerably reduced handling fees for package rather than single tickets;
•BPO Perks Card, which provides access to special discounts and offers at merchants throughout Western New York; and
•Subscriber-only recognition events.
"Subscriber Courtesy Week" is Aug. 4-8. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 9. For more information, call 716-885-5000 or visit www.bpo.org.