Put Away the Christmas Carols
by Jan Jezioro
Two classical series ring out the holidays
After a solid, month-long diet of Christmas music concerts, it seems fairly safe to assume that the audience for live classical music is ready for a change of pace. Luckily, there are two concerts this weekend that will help break the holiday music spell.
Shakti Lounge Series
At 8pm Saturday evening, the Shakti Lounge Series presents an eclectic program of classical music. Michelle Gigante, owner of Shakti Yoga, is part of the ongoing effort to revitalize the Grant-Ferry neighborhood, restoring it to the viable commercial and residential status that it once had. As part of that effort, Gigante purchased, and then refurbished, an elegant, neoclassical style bank building at 133 Grant Street for use as her new yoga studio.
While a diverse variety of musical traditions have been represented on prior events in this musical series, it’s a fairly safe bet that Saturday’s event will prove to be a new benchmark. Violinist Amy Glidden, associate concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic, organized this unique evening of music, ranging from the traditional to the totally unexpected. Obviously not afraid of a challenge, Glidden herself will tackle a pair of the summits of the solo violin repertoire, performing Bach’s Partita No. 3 for Violin in E Major, and the devilishly difficult Sonata No. 4 for Solo Violin, by the great Belgian violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe, while fellow BPO violinist Andrea Cone will join Glidden in Darius Milhaud’s delightful Sonatine for Two Violins.
BPO percussionist Dinesh Joseph will join Glidden in a pair of works for violin and percussion, including contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s serene Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in Mirror), which is perhaps the most widely performed work by Pärt, due in part to the variety of its possible instrumental settings. Add the whimsical, when Glidden and Joseph team up for a performance of the 1997 piece Djembach: Suite for Solo Viola (or whatever) and Percussion, by Christian Woehr. The six-movement, neo-Baroque suite uses the same traditional dance forms found in a Bach cello suite. Composed by Woehr, who is the associate principal violist for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, for viola “or whatever” (in this performance a violin) and percussion (the latter mostly a djembe, which is an African drum), this entertaining work strongly suggests that sometimes long-suffering viola players know how to make a joke, as well as be the butt of one—bravo!
Come prepared for mostly floor seating, with limited chairs and benches available. Suggested donation is $10, with proceeds benefiting Priscilla’s Project.
Gift to the Community Series
At 3pm on Sunday, January 9, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society offers the second installment in this season’s free Gift to the Community series in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans. Flute player Aleksandr Haskin, the originally scheduled performer, had to withdraw due to a family emergency. Not to worry, though: The replacement artist is the highly regarded, 20-year-old violinist Benjamin Beilman, winner of the first prize in the 2010 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, where he was also awarded the Buffalo Chamber Music Society Prize. Beilman studies violin with Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and his performances have been featured on National Public Radio’s Performance Today and From the Top. He has also been profiled in several national magazines, including The New Yorker, Symphony, Strings, and the December 2010 issue of the prestigious British Strad magazine, where his performance of a Haydn concerto at the International Violin Competition of Indiana last September was singled out for special praise: “This was a joyful and spontaneous performance, colourful and outgoing, but intimate where necessary.” As the first prize winner of the 2010 Montréal International Musical Competition, as well as the winner of the People’s Choice Award at that event, Beilman has been invited to perform in 2011 with several major orchestras in both Canada and France.
Sunday’s program includes Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in E Major for Violin and Keyboard BMV 1016, as well as Prokofiev’s magnificent Sonata No. 1 in F Minor for Violin and Piano, Op. 80. Beilman will also perform Prokofiev’s last composition for violin, the 1947 Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 115, a work originally intended for performance by 20 violins playing in unison, as well as Bizet’s Carmen Fantasie, Op. 3, No. 3, in an arrangement by the great Hungarian violinist-composer Jeno Hubay. Beilman’s accompanist will be the young Russian pianist Anna Polonsky, who delivered an intensely focused performance of Weber’s Konzertstück in F Minor in her 2008 debut with the BPO under the baton of JoAnne Falletta.
Admission to this event is free. For more information, visit www.bflochambermusic.org.
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