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Image courtesy of the BPO
Image courtesy of the BPO

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra pivots to video-streamed concerts for 2020-21 fall & holiday programs


Tue, Aug 11th 2020 05:55 pm

Revised ‘M&T Bank Classics’ and ‘BPO Pops’ programs to be broadcast from Kleinhans Music Hall on Saturday evenings, September through December

As Buffalonians join the rest of the world in adjusting to the “new normal” brought by the pandemic, so, too, must the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Devoted to the mission of presenting symphonic music for the entire Western New York community, no matter the circumstances, the BPO announced new plans for video-streamed concerts in lieu of live concerts – since audiences are not yet allowed in Kleinhans Music Hall per “New York Forward” guidelines.

The new video-streamed performance series, “BPOnDemand,” will use state-of-the-art audio and video recording technology bringing the magical acoustics of Kleinhans into the living room of patrons via their home computer or mobile device. The series will be broadcast on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and available on-demand for a limited time thereafter. “BPOnDemand” performances will be made available to all current subscribers for free, as well as those patrons near and far who wish to purchase a virtual ticket on a concert-by-concert basis.

Revisions to the 2020-21 season repertoire announced this past January have been necessary in order to accommodate an orchestra of socially distanced size. Previously announced guest artists will be reengaged later in the 2020-21 season or in future seasons. “M&T Bank Classics” series headliner Renee Fleming has expressed sincere disappointment that she will not be able to perform for Buffalo audiences this season, but has graciously committed to a performance on the 2021-22 season.

The “BPOnDemand” video-streamed performance series serves not only as an outlet for lovers of symphonic music to once again enjoy the concert experience in a new and inventive way, but also helps to ensure the 73 full-time musicians of the BPO remain employed.

“Working with our audio and video experts, we are certain that we will be able to present the next best option to live performances – streamed video performances that make use of the magical acoustics of Kleinhans and also provide a rarely seen, up-close-and-personal perspective on the concert experience with our incredible musicians,” commented JoAnn Falletta, music director. “But the musicians and I still hold hope that we will be able to perform for live audiences soon."


The revised schedule for the BPO's 2020-21 “M&T Bank Classics” fall and holiday concert programming with Falletta is as follows:

A Celebration of the Seasons”: Streaming Sept. 26

A theme of joyful rebirth takes center stage as Falletta conducts the opening of the BPO season. Copland’s Appalachian Spring, an enduring portrait of the American landscape, and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, an exquisite musical narrative of nature’s seasons played by concertmaster Nikki Chooi and set to a visual display of Vivaldi’s poetry, are paired with a contemporary work, Starburst by Jessie Montgomery, a past finalist of the national Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latinx classical string players.

Love & Longing”: Streaming Oct. 10

Two works originally composed for keyboard and later transcribed for orchestra, Bach’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in D is a virtuosic display of technique and interpretation played by principal pianist for the New York Philharmonic, Eric Huebner, while Grieg’s Holberg Suite invokes dancing rhythms. Dvoƙák’s Serenade for Winds, Op. 44 in D, was composed in only two weeks, capturing the lyrical and lively flavor of his native Bohemia.

Falletta conducts.

Tartan & Tango”: Streaming Oct. 24

Intoxicating Spanish rhythms highlight the performance by hometown favorite, guitarist Jason Vieaux, in this program conducted by Falletta featuring two tangos from Argentinean master Astor Piazzolla: Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires) and Libertango. Combined with Puccini’s Crisantemi, a poignant and dramatic elegy for a fallen friend, and the beauty and yearning for the Highlands in Bantock’s Celtic Symphony, this program expresses a full range of emotion.

A String Serenade”: Streaming Nov. 7

As the first African American to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music (1996), it is fitting that George Walker’s Lyric for Strings is included on a program of works brimming with inspiration. Mozart’s Wind Serenade No. 11 K. 375 is pleasingly playful yet heartfelt; Handel’s Harp Concerto No. 6, played by principal harpist Madeline Olson, lends the harp a delicate magic; and Bach’s Air is celestial with the instantly recognizable second movement of his Baroque masterpiece.

Falletta conducts.

Bach, Beethoven & Beyond”: Streaming Nov. 21

Two early 20th century composers have grand masters to thank in this classic program conducted by Falletta. Beethoven’s Septet led to increased early fame for the young composer. The extraordinary and familiar Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 by J.S. Bach was an inspiration for Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks, and Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 3 was influenced by Baroque-era Italian works.

Baroque Fireworks”: Streaming Dec. 5

Baroque takes center stage as Falletta conducts Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks with its iconic and lavish score; Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6; and Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in C minor played by principal oboist Henry Ward, which echoes the lyricism of an aria. The BPO brass plays an exciting work by the influential 16th century organist Giovanni Gabrieli, while Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a delicate musical love letter to his new wife on her Christmas birthday, completes this Baroque program.

JoAnn’s Classical Christmas”: Streaming Dec. 12

BPO musicians highlight the annual offering when Sal Andolina presents a special saxophone rendition of holiday favorites, and the BPO brass shine in Darin Kelly’s “Of Nights and Lights,” a sparkling Hanukkah composition. Perennial classics including selections from Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Respighi’s “The Adoration of the Magi,” Vaughan-Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves, and more bring the spirit of the season to life.


The revised schedule for the 2020-21 “BPO Pops” fall and holiday concert programming with Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell is as follows:

Bravo Broadway”: Streaming Oct. 3

The pops season opens with the new generation of Broadway stars along with Buffalo’s Second Generation Theatre Co., as Russell conducts beloved musical theater favorites including classics from Rogers and Hammerstein, Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Kander and Ebb, Schwartz and Miranda. An evening of song and celebration!

That Studio Sound: Jazz Classics for Lovers”: Streaming Oct. 17

From the famed recording studios at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, arranger Nelson Riddle and the biggest singing sensations of the era created a body of work that defines the cool sophistication of popular jazz in the 1950s and ’60s. The BPO brings arrangements of classics by Gershwin, Porter and Jobim, recorded by the likes of Frank, Nat and Ella, back to life in all their original splendor with Buffalo crooners Katy Miner and Chris Vasquez. A romantic evening of sultry swing.

Simply Bewitching”: Streaming Oct. 31

From Hollywood horror, chilling orchestral classics and creepy musical tales, audiences be spellbound by the magic of the BPO. Music from “Psycho,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and autumnal favorites weave together an enchanted night of thrills and chills.

A Brass Act”: Streaming Nov. 14

Thrill to the power and majesty of the BPO brass as they perform popular classics, from splendid fanfares and marches, to ragtime and jazz. A jamboree of musical styles from the world over that will be glorious, tuneful, irreverent, and fun.

John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops”: Streaming Dec. 19

Celebrate the holidays with “Mr. Christmas” himself, maestro Russell, with festive pops favorites from the BPO. It’s Western New York’s most celebrated holiday tradition with an eclectic variety of seasonal music from popular song, film, musical theater, gospel and jazz. As heartwarming as it is fun, it’s a concert for everyone, featuring guest appearances by soulful Buffalo singers Zoe Scruggs and George Brown and maybe even the “man with the bag” himself … if you’re nice!

All artists and repertoire are subject to change. Further details about all programs on the 2020-21 concert season can be found at bpo.org.

Performances scheduled January through June of 2021 remain as scheduled for the time being, though Falletta, Russell, and the BPO leadership team are closely monitoring the ever-evolving pandemic situation and are actively working on alternative programs that will meet social distancing guidelines.

Current subscribers to the 2020-21 season who have tickets for concerts that fall within the September through December timeframe will automatically have their tickets converted to a “FLEX” pass, to be redeemed at the subscriber’s leisure for a concert later in the season when the BPO hopes to once again be able to host live audiences. All subscribers will be contacted by the box office staff over the coming weeks to discuss their preferred BPO experience this season. Subscribers are encouraged to await contact from the BPO, but those with urgent questions may call the box office at 716-885-5000.

Subscriptions for the 2020-21 concert season are still on sale now including the flexible “FLEX” pack option, which allows patrons to secure the benefits of a subscription now and choose concert preferences later. Each subscription provides access to the “BPOnDemand” video-streamed performance series, plus tickets for live concerts when they resume, and other subscriber benefits – including easy ticket exchanges. 

Single tickets for the “BPOnDemand” series will be available for purchase beginning Sept. 1. Tickets for live performances later in the season will be made available at a later date. Patrons are encouraged to sign up at bpo.org to receive the latest updates via the BPO email list, and to call the box office at 716-885-5000 with any questions. Note the box office is working remotely during this time, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Major corporate support for the BPO is provided by M&T Bank, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Calspan, Elderwood and KeyBank. Government support is provided by Erie County, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, visit bpo.org.

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