The Camerata di Sant’Antonio returns to its original home
The Camerata di Sant’Antonio opens its 15th season in a concert amusingly titled “Il Secondo Eclisse” (see below for explanation) with music by Vivaldi, Bloch, Kreisler and Wolf-Ferrari this Sunday afternoon, September 24th at 2:30 pm in St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, located at 160 Court Street, behind Buffalo City Hall. This concert is especially significant for the Camerata since it is the first time that the group will play in its original home in five years.
Christopher Weber, the founding artistic director of the Camerata explains why: “Being welcomed home means a lot to us. For this concert, it means we’re reconnecting with old friends and reconnecting those who’ve stood by us with St. Anthony’s. In today’s rapidly changing market, we’ll still need to venture out into the wider world but, looking to the future, the potential of having a home base is huge. For now, we’re family visitors and happy to be there. This past summer, our founding sponsor and former pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Padre Secondo Casarotto, passed away from a sudden and rapid onslaught of leukemia. Padre was very proud to have been the first priest in the Buffalo diocese to form an Italian/European style chamber ensemble and music series. The Camerata really was his vision and his way of recreating a piece of Italy here for the members of the mother church of Buffalo’s Italian immigrants”.
“Meanwhile, for the past five years after Padre’s reassignment from the parish in 2012, the Camerata has been playing in other beautiful venues around Buffalo”, says Weber. “All the while, we had inquiries about returning to St. Anthony’s through the grapevine, through our audience surveys, and in Facebook messages. It really was the perfect venue for us in terms of the parish community, its impeccable acoustics, and because it is easily accessible from all the suburbs. We decided our opening concert should honor Padre Secondo’s memory and it would be fitting if we could do it at St. Anthony’s. So, I arranged a meeting with the new pastor, Msgr. Joseph Sicarri and presented my idea. He told me he and the parish community are very interested in having music and other social events return to St. Anthony’s, so we scheduled our first two concerts of this season back at our founding home”.
“Padre Secondo, like every Italian”, Weber explains, “was extremely proud of his home city, in his case Vicenza. It lies just west of Padua, which in turn lies just west of Venice. All three are pearls strung west to east in the Veneto region of Italy. To honor his memory, I decided to program music that would have made him smile, with a focus on the Veneto. We’ll open with Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in d minor RV405 with Eva Herer as soloist. Eva and I both found it beautifully virtuosic and far more interesting than many of Vivaldi’s other cello concerti. It’s also very compact at just 9 or 10 minutes, so I also asked Eva to play Ernest Bloch’s Prayer from his Jewish Life Suite, in Padre’s memory. Asking Diana Sachs to perform Kreisler’s famous Preludium and Allegro is my joke to Padre. The Austrian virtuoso violinist Fritz Kreisler was fond of supposedly rediscovering works by little known masters, in this case the 18th century violinist / composer Gaetano Pugnani. But the apocryphal work is Kreisler’s alone and it’s an especially good ribbing having an Austrian pass off his work as Italian. The bulwark of our program is the Serenade for Strings by the Venetian born Ermanno Wolf-Ferarri. Surprisingly, the work is not well known as the composer was best known for his operas. It is, however, a strikingly beautiful and cleverly constructed masterwork in four movements. I want it to be a special and celebratory treat for our audience and something our musicians can sink their teeth into”.
“Like many of his parishioners, Padre Secondo was also an immigrant and, contrary to the view of many of his contemporaries, his persistent belief while at St. Anthony’s was that his parishioners were not to be assimilated”, says Weber. “To be assimilated is to divest oneself of one’s heritage and diversity. hat heritage and diversity should be celebrated, not diluted. So, we’re closing with the famous theme music from Italian film composer Ennio Morricone’s score to the film C’era una volta in America (Once upon a time in America)”.
Tickets: $18, or at a reduced rate by subscription, include admission to the Camerata’s legendary post-concert champagne reception.