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Buffalo Philharmonic celebrates Beethoven with music, film, lectures, collaboration with Road Less Traveled Productions

by jmaloni

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Wed, Mar 4th 2015 07:00 am

In March, the BPO will celebrate classical music's most beloved and influential composer with a festival, including his groundbreaking Ninth Symphony.

The centerpiece of the festival will be two weeks of concerts of Beethoven's music on the M&T Classics series. At 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22, audiences will have a chance to experience Beethoven's Ninth Symphony live in the acoustic precision of Kleinhans Music Hall.

The symphony's grand scale and emotional narrative have made it the most frequently performed classical work. Its final movement, nicknamed "Ode To Joy" and based on a poem by Friedrich Schiller, will be instantly recognizable. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and soloists Sari Gruber, Ann McMahon Quintero, Robert Breault and Kevin Deas, join the orchestra in performing this touchstone of classical music. The concerts also include a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, written at the dawn of the 19th century.

The following week, Road Less Traveled Productions collaborates with the BPO to provide a new dimension to Beethoven's Complete Incidental Music to "Egmont." The historical drama "Egmont" was written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and tells the tale of the famous Dutch warrior and nobleman, the Count of Egmont, who valiantly stood against oppression. Beethoven composed the well-known overture and nine incidental pieces for soprano, narrator and orchestra for a revival of the play two decades after its premiere.

Buffalo actor Matthew Witten, who was most recently seen in the Irish Classical Theater Co.'s production of "A Lion in Winter," will serve as narrator. Emily Tworek-Helenbrook, an Alexander native who has won many national and international accolades for her vocal performance work, will sing the soprano role. Scott Behrend is the artistic director of Road Less Travelled Productions. The lighting design is by John Rickus, and stage management by Susan Dickinson.

Buffalo favorite Norman Krieger will be the soloist in Beethoven's "Emperor" Piano Concerto on the same concerts. Among his early accolades was the Buffalo Philharmonic Young Artists Competition Prize; he has since gone on to win the gold medal at the first Palm Beach Invitational Piano Competition and perform on Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series. The concerts take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 27, and 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28. There will be complimentary coffee and doughnuts prior to the March 27 performance.

JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium for both concert weeks. The audience is invited to attend "Musically Speaking," a discussion held one hour prior to Saturday and Sunday concerts, and ask questions of the conductor and artists before the concerts.

In addition to the concerts, the BPO hosts events for the community to learn more about this composer and his music. The documentary film "Following The Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony" will be screened at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at the Woldman Theater in Norton Hall on the UB North Campus. Filmmaker Kerry Candaele explores the work's meaning, taking viewers on a journey across five continents and into the heart and soul of one of the world's greatest works of art. A panel discussion will follow. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 with student ID or a ticket to one of the other Beethoven Festival concerts.

BPO staff conductor Paul Ferington will share his perspective on Beethoven and his music at three free "BPOvations" talks. He will speak at the Downtown Central Library at noon Wednesday, March 4; at the Orchard Park Library at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4; and at the Amherst Audubon Library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11.

For all ticketed events, patrons can call 716-885-5000 or visit bpo.org to purchase. Student tickets to BPO concerts are $11 with ID.

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