The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has something for everyone’s musical wish list this holiday season, from classical masterworks to popular hits of Hollywood, Broadway and the radio. As staffers deck Kleinhans Music Hall with boughs of holly, audiences should prepare to be dazzled by the sights and sounds of the season, and memory-making moments with the BPO.
Make Holiday Memories with BPO at Kleinhans Music Hall
On Wednesday, Dec. 11, the BPO presents the first of its “Music and Movie Magic Series,” with a special holiday screening of “Home Alone,” presented by KeyBank. Ron Spigelman conducts John Williams’ majestic score performed live to the film on the big screen.
This madcap, family-friendly favorite tells the story of an 8-year-old boy whose family leaves without him for Christmas vacation, leaving him to defend his home against two bungling thieves.
An early 7 p.m. start time for this mid-week performance will get the kiddos back to their beds in time for sugarplums to dance in their heads.
Maestro JoAnn Falletta conducts the “M&T Bank Classics Series” holiday favorite “JoAnn’s Classical Christmas” at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. From Bach to Tchaikovsky, Corelli to Vaughan Williams, and a new festive work for Hanukkah, the classical tradition is rife with music to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joins the BPO, lending its merry voices to choral classics. As a special treat, the BPO’s new concertmaster, Nikki Chooi, will be featured in Korngold’s “Prelude and Serenade from The Snowman.” Native Buffalonian and soprano Rachel Mikol will lend her lyrical voice to arrangements of “Gesu Bambino” and “O Holy Night.”
“Of all the concerts we do each year, ‘Classical Christmas’ is the happiest for me, because it truly gets me into the spirit of the holidays,” Falletta said. “It’s a wonderful way to get ready for Hanukkah, Christmas and the new year – or whatever it is that you celebrate – with music that fits the season. And if you have never seen Kleinhans decorated for the holidays, you will just be amazed by the beauty of our hall and the music you will hear.”
Complimentary coffee and doughnuts are available for all ticketholders prior to all Friday morning “Coffee Concerts,” with doors opening at 8:30 a.m. Elderwood is the sponsor.
Falletta will present her pre-concert lecture, “Musically Speaking,” beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, to enlighten audiences about the performance and enrich their listening experience.
At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, the BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York “BPO Kids Series” celebrates the holidays with “Jingle Bell Jam,” featuring favorite holiday stories. Special guest Santa Claus will lead a sing-a-long and help conduct the concert, which includes selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with dancers from the Royal Academy of Ballet, music from “Home Alone” with the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Vocal Symphony, and other holiday favorites (including “Let it Snow” and “Christmas Time is Here” from the popular animated classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas”).
The U.S. Marine Corps will be on hand to help make cards for military members stationed far from home during the holidays, and milk and cookies with Santa will be served in the Mary Seaton Room as a post-concert treat.
These Sunday afternoon concerts last approximately 45 minutes with an hour of pre-concert activity stations beginning at 1:30 p.m. (to get the wiggles out!), including crafts, stories and games.
It all leads up to “Holiday Pops,” a Western New York number holiday staple. Maestro John Morris Russell, “Mr. Christmas” himself, is back on the podium for more holiday favorites and surprises.
Liz Callaway, a Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer and recording artist, joins the BPO for four performances of “Holiday Pops”: at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, and Friday, Dec. 20; at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21; and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22. Callaway is well-known for lending her vocals to the animated classic “Anastasia,” in which she sang the Academy Award-nominated song “Journey to the Past.” She last performed with the BPO to sold-out audiences in 2017 with “The Carole King Songbook.”
“The musicians and I are thrilled to welcome Ms. Callaway to this year’s ‘Holiday Pops’ program,” Russell said. “This is one of my absolute favorite concerts of the year, and Liz’s pristine and heartfelt voice will make this a truly exceptional event. Our collection of unique and splendid orchestral and choral arrangements, Liz’s velveteen vocals and joyous spirit, and the glorious sound of the BPO all come together for one incredible weekend of sheer delight for all of Buffalo and Western New York.”
This year’s “Holiday Pops” also includes traditional favorites from “Sleigh Ride” and “Skaters Waltz,” to audience sing-alongs of holiday favorites. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, prepared by music director Adam Luebke, joins the BPO with exuberant holiday works, while the African American Cultural Center lends its drumming talents to a new rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.”
“Holiday Pops” will once again feature a Thursday morning “Coffee Concert” performance this year, in addition to the popular Friday morning “Coffee Concert,” Saturday evening performance, and Sunday family matinee.
More Holiday Magic with BPO throughout Western New York Region
Neglia Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” returns to Shea’s at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, with orchestration by the BPO, conducted by Ron Spigelman – in this 11th annual presentation following a sold-out run in 2018. Take a journey with Marie and her Nutcracker Prince to the Land of Sweets in this holiday ballet classic set to Tchaikovsky’s cherished score. Tickets available at sheas.org.
By popular demand, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus will present not one, but two performances of G.F. Handel’s holiday masterwork “The Messiah” this year, featuring orchestration by the BPO, culminating in the majestic "Hallelujah Chorus."
Adam Luebke conducts, and soloists include Sarah Luebke, soprano; Lynne McMurtry, mezzo-soprano; James Judd, tenor; and Jaman E. Dunn, bass.
“The Messiah” will premiere at Saint Mary’s Swormville at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, and will return to Our Lady of Victory Basilica and National Shrine at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1.
Tickets are $25 general admission and $50 VIP (St. Mary's only), and can be purchased at bpchorus.org.
Audiences in the South Towns can celebrate the spirit of the season with a special holiday concert at Hilbert College at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, in the William E. Swan Auditorium. Jaman E. Dunn, BPO assistant conductor, community engagement, will conduct traditional classics and holiday favorites including “Carol of the Bells,” selections from “The Nutcracker” and Handel’s “The Messiah,” plus Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”
Tickets are general admission, $10 for students and $30 for adults, and can be purchased at bpo.org/hilbert.
There are few places like M&T Bank’s gold dome during the holiday season. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, the BPO will fill the glorious dome with familiar sounds of holiday classics in a special free and open-to-the-public performance conducted by Dunn. No tickets or reservations are required.
Subscriptions & Single Tickets Now Available
Those with a BPO subscription can save on handling fees, have access to the most flexible ticket exchange program in the region, and receive special savings up to 30% off the cost of buying performances individually. To subscribe or to purchase individual tickets for BPO performances, call 716-885-5000, visit bpo.org, or stop by the Kleinhans box office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekday or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
New Parking & Dining Options for 2019
The BPO has expanded its parking, shuttle and pre-concert dining options for select performances this season, including a new free park-and-ride option at the Clement House located at 786 Delaware Ave., and new dining-shuttle options offered by Eckl'[email protected] and the Buffalo Grand Hotel. More information is online at bpo.org/dining.
Chronological BPO Holiday Calendar
For more information, visit bpo.org.