Renee Fleming, Matthew Morrison, Bartok and Chihuly among early highlights
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra begins its 2014-15 season Sept. 13 with a new associate conductor, many outstanding guest artists, and collaborations slated with many of the area's leading cultural and educational institutions.
A recording project for Naxos will shed light on the works of the little-known French composer Florent Schmitt, and the orchestra will continue its search for a new pops conductor and concertmaster.
Gala Season Opening with Renee Fleming
The season kicks off with a gala and performance by soprano Renee Fleming on Sept. 13, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Fleming, a Rochester native, is the winner of a National Medal of Arts, and a four-time Grammy winner. Earlier this year, she became the first classical singer to perform the national anthem before the Super Bowl. Fleming will perform a mix of operatic favorites and popular works on this sure-to-sell-out program.
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.
Gala proceeds benefit the BPO's educational programs.
Pops Opening brings Broadway and TV talent Matthew Morrison to the KMH Stage
The pops series opens 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 entertained 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 favorites. Pianist and music director Brad Ellis, known for his role as the accompanist for the choir on "Glee," will take the stage with Morrison.
John Morris Russell, conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, will lead the program.
'Dark Secrets revealed in Music and Glass' to Open 'Know the Score' Series
Bela Bartok's psychological thriller opera "Bluebeard's Castle" comes to life with a set designed by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. On Oct. 1, the BPO will become only the third orchestra in America to stage this version of "Bluebeard's Castle." Michelle DeYoung and Charles 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, which combines the music with the story behind it. After the concert, the audience is invited to continue the conversation and mingle with the musicians at a reception. General admission tickets are $29; a $75 VIP package provides patrons with an intimate look at the set, premiere seating for the concert, a drink ticket for the post-concert reception, and a book on the works of Chihuly.
Pre-concert guests are invited to see demonstrations presented by the Corning Museum of Glass, view works by Chihuly provided by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and a display of works from Tonawanda middle school and high school students who have studied Chihuly's style.
"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 State Legislature. WNED is the media sponsor for this event.
Two-week Rachmaninoff Festival Opens M&T Classics
Sergey Rachmaninoff became one of the first international classical superstars to perform at Kleinhans when he gave a recital there one month after the hall opened. For two weeks in October, the BPO will celebrate his life and works. 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 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 program that weekend also features "The Isle of the Dead," a symphonic poem inspired by a painting by Arnold Bocklin.
The BPO joins forces with Irish Classical Theater and LehrerDance to present Moliere's comedy "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme." Roughly translated to "The Would-Be Gentleman," the play skewers both social climbers and the vain aristocracy. Although it premiered in 1670 before the court of Louis XIV, the play has proven to be timeless. Vincent O'Neill plays the title role, and the BPO will perform music written by Richard Strauss in 1912 to accompany to the German adaptation. Audiences will have three opportunities to see Moliere's comedic masterpiece: at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 31; at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1; and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2.
Other highlights of the classics season include: the return of former concertmaster Michael Ludwig Dec. 6 and 7 performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto; the annual Mozart birthday celebration in January; a two-week Beethoven Festival that includes a performance of his Ninth Symphony on March 21, 22, 27 and 28; music by Polish composers featuring the BPO's own principal horn and Polish native Jacek Muzyk on April 24 and 25; and Mahler's Symphony No. 1 paired with Bernstein's Serenade for Violin and Orchestra with violinist Tim Fain to close the season in May.
BPO Kids Presents Six Concerts for Kids of All Ages
BPO Kids returns for another season Oct. 26 with "Symphonic Spooktacular." Beginning at 1:30 p.m., young concertgoers can try out instruments at the "Instrument Zoo," enjoy activities presented by B is for Books and Tutor Doctor, and meet costumed characters.
The concert begins at 2:30 p.m. and features some of the spookiest music ever written. The orchestra and conductor will be in costume, and audience members are encouraged to dress up and participate in the costume parade across the Kleinhans stage. The series continues with "Jingle Bell Jam" on Dec. 14; "A Very Beary Valentine" on Feb. 15; "The Magical Music of Disney" March 15; "Dr. Seuss Meets the BPO" on April 19; and "BlueCross BlueShield Day at the BPO" with "Carnival of the Animals" on May 3.
Tickets for the full season are $58 for adults and $38 for kids.
More Pops Favorites Featured this Fall
The Hit Men are coming to town Oct. 24-25 and bringing musical memories with them. This supergroup features former stars of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, who went on to work with rock's leading legends, including Tommy James and the Shondells, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens and Elton John. Relive the glory days of rock 'n' roll with these performers, featuring hits from "Sherry" to "You're So Vain," "Peace Train" and more.
Matt Catingub won the audience's hearts and got them dancing in the aisles during his BPO debut in May. He returns to the podium Nov. 8 in a program devoted to Glorious Gershwin. Catingub and pianist Kevin Cole reveal the genius of George Gershwin, often called "America's Mozart." On the piano or sax and singing with Anita Hall and a jazz group from Fredonia State College, Catingub leads this lively program of arrangements of favorites such as "I Got Rhythm" and "Summertime" as well as some rare gems from his "GERSHWIN 100" recording.
When Cole was growing up in Michigan, he visited the local library, checked out a biography of Gershwin, and struck up a correspondence with the author. Today, he is considered to be a leading Gershwin interpreter.
Jay White's vocal and physical resemblance to Neil Diamond has had many audiences confusing him with the real thing. Diamond himself frequently jokes with White that he can do fewer gigs thanks to White's strong work ethic, which has seen him perform more than 2,000 casino shows in Las Vegas. White brings the feel-good sounds of Neil Diamond to the BPO Saturday, Nov. 22, with Bradley Thachuk on the podium.
Other series highlights include Ben Vereen on Jan. 31; the BPO debut of Megan Hilty on Saturday, March 14; the return of the Glenn Miller Orchestra April 17 and 18; and "Ella, Louis and All That Jazz" with Bryon Stripling and Marva Hicks June 6.
Holidays at the BPO
The BPO presents holiday events in Western New York, starting with "The Nutcracker" at Shea's featuring Neglia Ballet Artists Nov. 29 and 30. "Classical Christmas" brings you "Messiah" and more under the baton of Erin Freeman. The "Jingle Bell Jam" is a family tradition that sparkles with Santa, pre-concert activities and a sing-along Dec. 14.
This year's "BlueCross BlueShield Holiday Pops" extravaganza features Sal Andolina's Big Band joining the BPO center stage. Ron Spigelman will be on the podium, and the vocals of James Torme (son of jazz legend Mel Torme) will make the holiday merry and bright.
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To subscribe or purchase single tickets, call 716-885-5000; go to bpo.org, or visit the BPO box office at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
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 U.S.
For more information about the BPO, visit www.bpo.org.