Renee Fleming, Ben Vereen, Matthew Morrison among featured performers
Saturday marks the first opportunity to obtain individual tickets to all concerts in the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's 2014-15 season. Highlights include superstar Renee Fleming; Broadway sensations Matthew Morrison, Ben Vereen and Megan Hilty; Bartok's dark and thrilling opera "Bluebeard's Castle" with a set by glass artist Dale Chihuly; Celtic Thunder; Rachmaninoff and Beethoven festivals; and BPO rocks shows, including "The Music of Led Zeppelin."
Tickets range from $29-$83 and are available by visiting bpo.org, calling 716-885-5000, or visiting the BPO box office at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
The season kicks off with a gala and performance by soprano Renee Fleming on Sept. 13, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. This year, she became the first classical singer to perform the national anthem before the Super Bowl. A native of Rochester, she is a National Medal of Arts recipient and a four-time Grammy winner.
Surrounding Fleming's performance will be the BPO's annual gala, sponsored by the Louis P. Ciminelli Family Foundation. The gala includes a pre-concert dinner catered by Oliver's, premium concert seating, and a post-concert dessert reception. Proceeds benefit the BPO's educational programming.
BPO Pops Highlights
The Pops Series opens on Sept. 27 with the BPO debut of Broadway and television star Matthew Morrison. Morrison is best-known for playing the eternally optimistic teacher Will Schuester on "Glee," but has also thrilled Broadway audiences in shows such as "Hairspray" and "The Light in the Piazza." On the heels of his successful June PBS special "Where It All Began," he presents his own spin on Broadway.
Featuring former stars of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Hit Men are songwriters and vocalists who've worked with everyone from Elton John to Cat Stevens and Carly Simon. With songs like "Sherry," "Peace Train" and "Oh What a Night," this show is a tour of rock 'n' roll's glory days. They take the BPO stage Friday, Oct. 24, at 10:30 a.m., and Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. Complimentary coffee and donuts will be available before the Friday morning concert.
BlueCross BlueShield "Holiday Pops" swings this season, as James Torme, son of "The Velvet Fog" Mel Torme, joins the orchestra in celebrating the spirit of the holidays. BPO clarinetist Sal Andolina and his Big Band add extra pizzazz to an already sparkling concert. This program will be presented at 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19; at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20; and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21. Complimentary coffee and donuts will be available before the Friday morning concert.
The BPO returns after a holiday break with one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century: Ben Vereen. Emmy and Tony Award winner Vereen has performed a broad spectrum of roles, from Chicken George in "Roots" to the Leading Player in the Broadway premiere of "Pippin." He has dazzled audiences in "Chicago," "Wicked" and "Fosse," and in the movies "Sweet Charity" and "All That Jazz." Vereen makes his BPO debut at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31.
Other pops highlights include Jay White's tribute to Neil Diamond on Nov. 22; the BPO debut of Megan Hilty on Saturday, March 14, 2015; the return of the Glenn Miller Orchestra on April 17 and 18; and Broadway star Debbie Gravitte in a tribute to the music from the James Bond films on May 2.
'Dark Secrets: Bluebeard and Chihuly'
Bela Bartok's psychological thriller opera "Bluebeard's Castle" comes to life with a set designed by glass artist Dale Chihuly. On Oct. 1, the BPO will become only the third American orchestra to stage this version of "Bluebeard's Castle." Performers Michelle DeYoung andCharles Robert Austin are specialists in their roles as the naïve Judith and the mysterious Duke Bluebeard. Falletta leads the orchestra in this opening of the "Know the Score" series. A $75 VIP package provides patrons with an intimate look at the set, reserved seating for the concert, a drink ticket for the post-concert reception, and a book on the works of Chihuly.
"Dark Secrets: Bluebeard and Chihuly" is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNED is the media sponsor for this event.
M&T Bank Classics Highlights
For two weeks in October, the BPO will celebrate the life and works of Serge Rachmaninoff. On Oct. 10 and 11, Fabio Bidini joins the BPO to perform his Piano Concerto No. 4. The program also includes Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, which premiered to triumph after his first symphony was harshly criticized; and "The Sea and the Seagull," orchestrated by composer Ottorino Respighi. On Oct. 18 and 19, Gabriela Martinez performs Piano Concerto No. 1. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and vocalists Rebecca Nash, Charles Reid and Darren Stokes join the orchestra for a haunting performance of Rachmaninoff's Edgar Allen Poe-inspired choral symphony "The Bells." The weekend's program also features "The Isle of the Dead," a symphonic poem inspired by a painting by Arnold Bocklin.
In March, the BPO will celebrate another great composer in its two-week Beethoven Festival. On March 21 and 22, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus will join the BPO to perform his Ninth Symphony, one of classical music's most popular works. The March 27 and 28 concerts will feature his "Emperor Concerto" for piano and orchestra performed by Norman Krieger and the complete incidental music to "Egmont."
Western New York audiences will have three chances to experience a groundbreaking collaboration between the BPO, the Irish Classical Theater Company, and LehrerDance. The three organizations join forces Oct. 31 and Nov. 1-2 to present Moliere's comedic play "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme," with incidental music by Richard Strauss.
Other classics highlights include pianist Alain Lefevre performing Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F minor on March 7 and 8, and a tribute to Polish composers featuring BPO Principal French horn Jacek Muzyk. This year's "Classical Christmas" concert will be led by Erin Freeman and will feature a performance of Handel's "Messiah."
"The Music of Led Zeppelin" has sold out previous shows at the BPO. The symphonic tribute to one of rock's most original and enduringly popular bands returns Nov. 7. Brent Havens is on the podium, and Randy Jackson provides vocals for this ultimate classic rock show.
The series also includes a performance by Blood Sweat & Tears featuring "American Idol's" Bo Bice on Saturday, Feb. 28; and "The Music of Michael Jackson" on May 1.
Celtic Thunder has brought the music of the Emerald Isle to audiences worldwide. On Dec. 10, the singing sensation swings through Buffalo on their first-ever symphonic tour. Titled "Christmas Voices," the concert is a blend of Irish favorites, traditional carols, and Celtic Thunder's signature hits.
Kids take over Kleinhans for six Sunday afternoons in a series of family-oriented concerts. For less than the cost of a movie, families can experience symphonic music together and enjoy free pre-concert crafts, stories, activities and games. BPO Kids kicks off with "Symphonic Spooktacular" on Oct. 26, which culminates in a costume parade across the stage. The series includes a holiday concert on Dec. 14; the music of Disney on March 15; and a Dr. Seuss concert on April 19. Tickets to BPO Kids are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Subscribers can purchase all six concerts for $58 for adults and $38 for children.
Subscriptions and student tickets available
Any high school or college student with valid ID can purchase a season pass to the M&T Bank Classics series for $29. Individual tickets to the M&T Bank Classics Series are $10 for students. Students receive a 50 percent discount on tickets to the Pops Series.
Subscriptions are still available, with packages ranging from full pops and classics series to five-packs and flex passes. New subscribers save up to 50 percent off the single ticket price. To subscribe, call 716-885-5000.