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Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra selects finalists for 'Buffalo Sings Champion' contest


Thu, Feb 22nd 2018 05:15 pm
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra put out a call for the area's top vocal talent, and Western New York responded.
More than 60 Western New Yorkers applied to be the "Buffalo Sings Champion." Nine people have been selected to face off in the live finals in held in Kleinhans' Mary Seaton Room on Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. They are:
  • Leah Berst, age 22, of West Seneca
  • Aurora Boneberg, age 32, a Lancaster resident and Fredonia College graduate
  • Camryn Clune, age 17, an Amherst resident and student at Christian Central Academy
  • Onna Lynn Hacker, age 29, of Colden
  • Chris Handley, age 34, of Buffalo
  • Elena Izqueredo, age 16, a Getzville resident and student at Williamsville East High School
  • Kelly Picone, age 43, of Amherst
  • Chris Vasquez, age 49, of Amherst
  • Raffi Wright, age 18, a Clarence resident and student at Clarence High School
The winner will perform "Over the Rainbow," written by Buffalo native Harold Arlen, with the BPO at the "Buffalo Sings" concert on Saturday, April 14. Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell will lead the concert, which will feature the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus, the Friends of Harmony, the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Chorus, and other groups to be announced.
Judges for the finals include Adam Luebke, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus music director; Mary Kate O'Connell, founder and artistic director of the musical theater company O'Connell and Company; Drea D'Nur, Buffalo-based recording artist who is well-known for her Nina Simone show; BPO bassoonist and Buffalo Gay Men's Choir member Max Pipinich; and Russell. The finals are free and open to the public.
"I was completely flabbergasted by the overwhelming response to our 'Buffalo Sings' competition," Russell said. "It was difficult to choose singers for our finals among so many impassioned performances. It will be thrilling to hear our finalists live on March 1, and to have the winner join us on the stage of Kleinhans Music Hall for this unique collaboration in April. Let the games begin!" 
The "Buffalo Sings" concert is part of the KeyBank Pops Series, and is a tribute to the power and beauty of the human voice, as well as a way of recognizing the musicality within every person. Audience members will be invited to sing along to popular musical theater favorites throughout the program. To purchase tickets to this unique interactive experience, call 716-885-5000 or visit bpo.org.

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