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Sex and Politics

Grammy nominated soprano, Tony Arnold

The Buffalo Chamber Players welcome spring

The Buffalo Chamber Players have designed a program that celebrates the spring season, or at least one traditionally important aspect of it, for their next concert at the Buffalo Seminary at 205 Bidwell Parkway at 7:30pm, on Wednesday, March 30. The program has been titled Sex and Politics, but, not to worry, there is no need for underage concertgoers to stay home. Sex and Politics refers to a new work by Western New York composer Rob Deemer, written for the Buffalo Chamber Players, comprising settings of six poems by the iconoclastic American poet e.e. cummings. Scored for voice and a nine-piece ensemble of strings, woodwinds, and brass, the performance features the UB-based, nationally acclaimed, and Grammy-nominated soprano Tony Arnold.

The unconventional style of e.e. cummings’ poetry makes use of an impressionistic and unusual word order and his own individually idiosyncratic syntax, often for satiric political purposes, as in:

next to of course god america I

love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh

say can you see by the dawn’s early my

country ’tis of centuries come and go

and are no more what of it we should worry

in every language even deafanddumb

thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry

by jingo by gee by gosh by gum…

Or, they celebrate love, sex and rebirth, as in:

my girl’s tall with hard long eyes

as she stands, with her long hard hands keeping

silence on her dress…

As Rob Deemer, the composer of Sex and Politics and the chairman of the composition department at the School of Music at SUNY Fredonia, explains: “Neither sex nor politics are subjects that are often explored overtly in abstract concert music, but in conjunction with cummings’ texts, it’s possible to see the humor and pain inherent in these everyday ideas. It might be a risky subject matter for my first work with the Players, but what’s life without a little risk?”

Deemer’s involvement with the Buffalo Chamber Players evolved in a very contemporary fashion. After accessing the group’s Facebook page, Deemer sent a “friend” request to the Chamber Player’s founder and artistic director, BPO violist Janz Castelo, who quickly developed an interest in the award-winning composer’s music. One thing led to another, and Deemer was appointed this season as the Buffalo Chamber Players’ first ever composer-in-residence. The group not only commissioned a new work by Deemer, but according to Castelo trusted him enough to tell him to “do what you want to do,” as far as subject matter and instrumentation were concerned. “Rob’s compositions appealed to me immediately,” says Castelo, “since they are written in a contemporary but still accessible idiom that is not watered down.” Castelo observes that Deemer’s settings of the idiosyncratic texts of cummings give listeners the opportunity to “re-discover the unique poetic voice of e.e. cummings, a genuine American original, as interpreted by the artistry of soprano Tony Arnold, who has been widely acclaimed for her ability to make contemporary music relevant to audiences.”

Deemer’s role with the Buffalo Chamber Players will be expanded next season, when the group inaugurates a new, state-wide competition for composers who are New York State high school students.

The concert will also feature violinist Amy Licata and cellist Amelie Fradette in Maurice Ravel’s 1922 magical Sonata for Violin and Cello, dedicated to the memory of Claude Debussy. Polish composer Alexandre Tansman lived in France for most of his life, and his rhythmically challenging Septet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Viola, and Cello, from 1932, along with French composer Charles Koechlin’s 1924 Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Bassoon, combined with the Ravel piece, give a specifically French flavor to the rest of the program.

Tickets are $15 general admission, $5 for students, available at and at the door. For more information, visit

Culture in Cinema returns to the Paris Opera

On Monday, March 28, at 1:30pm, the Culture in Cinema series at the Amherst Theater returns to the Paris Opera for a live simulcast of a new production of Léo Delibes’ popular ballet Coppélia, about a mechanical dancing doll that distracts a village swain from his beloved and appears to come to life. Based on “The Sandman” and “The Doll,” a pair of macabre stories by that quintessentially early Romantic writer E. T. A. Hoffman, Coppélia became Delibes’ first success, even though its initial run was interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris.

La Scala’s new production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute will be presented in an encore performance on Wednesday, March 30, at 7pm. The Amherst Theatre (3500 Main Street across from UB South Campus), has been specially upgraded to accommodate the Culture in Cinema series. For more information, visit

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