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Happy Birthday, Wolfie!

Violinist Susanne Hou

The Buffalo Philharmonic celebrates the birthday of Mozart

Is there a birthday of any classical music composer more worthy of celebration than that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born on January 27, 1756? If you think not, as does this writer, you’ll be happy to learn that the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Music Director JoAnn Falletta, plans to do exactly that in a pair of concerts this weekend at Kleinhans Music Hall, on Friday, January 27 at 10:30am, and on Saturday, January 28, at 8pm.

Can Mozart actually have been born as long as 256 years ago? Well, yes, but when listening to almost any of Mozart’s almost 700 published compositions, a listener may well feel that the composer lived and worked just the other day.

Canadian violinist Susanne Hou is the soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3, and she is the first ever violinist in history to capture three gold medals, with unanimous decisions, at three international violin competitions: Concours International Long-Thibaud (France, 1999), Lipizer International Violin Competition (Italy, 1999), and Sarasate International Violin Competition (Spain, 1997.) The legendary violin being used by Hou is known as the ex Mary Portman, Fritz Kreisler, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, made in Cremona in 1735, and on extended loan from Buffalo music patrons Clement and Karen Arrison, through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago. The program opens with the sly overture to Don Giovanni, Mozart’s most inspired opera, and includes his delightfully dark-hued divertimento, the Serenata Notturna, as well as one of his most sublime symphonies, the Symphony No. 36 in C major, KV 425, known as the Linz Symphony. Mozart composed the work in four days during a stopover with his wife in the Austrian town of Linz on the way back home to Vienna, from Salzburg in late 1783, to accommodate the local count’s surprise announcement, upon hearing of Mozart’s arrival, of a concert.

For tickets or more information, call 885-5000 or visit

The Violins of the King

Buffalo is a great place to hear live performances of the huge range of classical musical works composed from about 1750 or so right up to contemporary works—think June in Buffalo Festival—so new that the ink they were written with is still not dry. What the Buffalo-based classical music lover has a hard time finding are live performances of the huge range of earlier music, from the Medieval period through the Baroque. While BPO violinist Mary Louise Nanna has done a wonderful job of leading her Ars Nova Musicians for several decades in presenting a four concert series of Baroque music in Buffalo churches every November, our area still suffers from a lack of any permanent, early music, Renaissance or Baroque ensembles.

One of the great benefits of the locally based, all-volunteer Ramsi P. Tick concert series, now in its 10th season, is that, besides bringing the very cream of internationally touring classical music soloists to our area, it also is virtually the only local presenting organization that has sponsored appearances by virtuoso, small touring ensembles, such as the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, I Musici de Montreal, the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Consort, Chatham Baroque, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. If you lived in Buffalo, and you wanted to hear any of these groups during the last decade, the only place that you would have been able to hear them locally, would have been the RP Tick series.

This tradition continues on Saturday, February 4 at 7:30pm, at the Flickinger Performing Arts Center at the Nichols School, in Buffalo, when the Québec City based baroque music group, Les Violons du Roy, makes its Buffalo debut. Widely hailed as one of the finest baroque music groups in Canada, it borrows its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings. The group, which has a core membership of 15 players, was brought together in 1984 by music director Bernard Labadie and specializes in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra, performed in the stylistic manner most appropriate to each era. The ensemble plays on modern instruments, but its approach to the works of the baroque and classical periods has been strongly influenced by current research into performance practice in the 17th and early 18th centuries, and the musicians use copies of period bows. The concert will feature works by the baroque masters Handel, Telemann, Sammartini, and Geminiani, including a pair of virtuoso concertos for flute and recorder.

A subscription for the three remaining concerts in the series is $100. Individual tickets are $50. For more information, call 759-4778 or visit

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