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From beatboxing flutist to Poland tour send-off, busy 6 weeks of music at Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra


Tue, Jan 30th 2018 07:00 am
Kleinhans Music Hall will be a busy place in the weeks leading up to the BPO's Poland tour.
Pianist Tony DeSare lights up the KeyBank Pops Series at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, with music from rock to romance from artists such as Billy Joel, John Lennon, Elton John and Ray Charles. The evening culminates with Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," considered to be the ultimate American piece of music performed with DeSare's personal style.
The genre-bending Project Trio will be in residence for several days, starting with a BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids concert at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4. The trio consists of beatboxing flutist Greg Pattillo, cellist Eric Stephenson and bassist Peter Seymour. They perform their own compositions and arrangements of well-known works in a show that encourages audience interaction. They are one of the most-watched instrumental ensembles on YouTube, and are passionate about engaging young people in music-making.
On Feb. 6, they perform in Kleinhans' Mary Seaton Room in a solo recital at 7 p.m. They will also visit schools and perform on the West Side Connection education concert taking place on Feb. 7, and available on demand to teachers in Western New York's eight counties free of charge.
On Saturday, Feb. 10 and Sunday, Feb. 11, JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium to lead one of her favorite works: "Scheherazade," by Rimsky-Korsakov. The BPO has recorded this piece and performed it on the inaugural "Know the Score" concert, led by Falletta in 2012. The piece spins a tale of courage, wit and creativity.
Scheherazade was forced to marry an evil sultan who was notorious for slaying his bride after their wedding night. Determined to survive, she spun a captivating tale for the sultan, with a cliffhanger ending that she pledged to reveal the next night - when she also began a new story. This legend frames the "1001 Nights," a work that dates from approximately 850 AD and became known to the Western world in 1710.
On the same concert, Finnish violinist Elina Vahala returns to perform Sibelius' Violin Concerto. The BPO will also perform Symphony No. 1 "Awakening" by Wang Jie, a one-of-a-kind composer who was raised in China and now lives in the U.S. Wang describes herself as "part cartoon character, part virtuoso" and characterizes this symphony as her most personal work.
The Glenn Miller Orchestra began touring in 1938 and, except for a few years following Miller's death in World War II, has never stopped. On Friday, Feb. 16, and Saturday, Feb. 17, the Glenn Miller Orchestra brings its signature sound to Kleinhans and the BPO.
Today, their repertoire exceeds 1,700 compositions, and they perform for approximately half a million people a year. Since 2012, conductor and vocalist Nick Hilscher has led the group. Hilscher has had an affinity for big band music since his youth, and did a stint as the lead male vocalist with the group before becoming its conductor. The lead female vocalist, Natalie Angst, had a similar love for the music of the 1940s and, together, they are bringing the classic, all-American sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra into the 21st century.
On Feb. 17, the audience is invited to stay after the concert for the annual "Sweetheart Dance," with music by the Katy Miner Quintet.
On Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, conductor Rebecca Miler makes her BPO debut. Born in California, Miller holds several conducting positions with British orchestras and universities: associate conductor of the Southbank Sinfonia, principal conductor of the Bishop's Stortford Sinfonia, director of orchestras at Royal Holloway University of London; and conductor at the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music. The program she will lead features Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn, and the concert's centerpiece, Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, which he wrote for his wife, composer and pianist Clara Wieck Schumann. Pianist Fei-Fei Dong makes her own BPO debut with this piece.
The days prior to the BPO's departure for Poland will be packed. On Friday, March 2, Dave Mason performs with the BPO on the "BPO Rocks" series. Mason is a founding member of Traffic, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a multi-Gold album solo artist, and an accomplished studio musician and songwriter. He brings his signature songs ("Feelin' Alright" and "We Just Disagree") with him, enhanced by the power of the full BPO.
"A Night at the Oscars" takes place on Saturday, March 3. John Morris Russell conducts iconic movie music like "Tara's Theme" from "Gone With the Wind;" the symphonic suite from "Lord of the Rings;" and John Williams' music from "E.T." After the concert, the BPO is throwing an Oscars party. The audience is encouraged to dress up for their red carpet moment, which will be captured by paparazzi and documented by interviewers. Oscar props, movie snacks, signature drinks and live music by JoyRyde, which includes several Buffalo Music Hall of Famers, complete the party atmosphere.
Kids take over Kleinhans on Sunday, March 4, for "Peter and the Wolf." The BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids concert is employing close-up video to help introduce each instrument to the audience. Free activities begin at 1:30 p.m., with the concert starting at 2:30 p.m.
The BPO's first international tour in 30 years kicks off in Buffalo on Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11. Falletta will lead the BPO in a program showcasing American composers: Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story;" Samuel Barber's Symphony No. 1; and George Gershwin's Concerto in F, performed by composer/pianist Conrad Tao. The program also includes a nod to eminent Polish composer/conductor Krzysztof Penderecki, with the Adagietto from "Paradise Lost."
Penderecki guest-conducted the BPO in 2016, and his wife, Elzbieta Penderecka, is president and founder of the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, at which the BPO will be performing in Poland. The audience is invited to come early on March 10 for a champagne toast to a successful tour. The orchestra will tour six cities in Poland from March 15-22.
All concerts take place at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo. Tickets are available by calling 716-885-5000, visiting bpo.org, or going to the Kleinhans Music Hall box office. Subscription packages are available in all sizes and offer benefits to subscribers. Student season passes are available for $29. Individual event tickets are $11 for students with valid ID. 

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