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Sweet Pipes

The Flanders Recorder Quartet

The Flanders Recorder Quartet offers a rare program

On Tuesday, November 27 at 8pm, the Buffalo Chamber Music Society’s concert in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall features what may well be a first in the organization’s 89-year history, a performance by a recorder quartet.

While the series has hosted no fewer than three appearances by Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri, the highest-profile recorder soloist in the world, including performances accompanied by her mother Hanne Petri on harpsichord, by her husband Lars Hannibal on lute and guitar, and by Cuban guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco, Tuesday’s performance by the Flanders Recorder Quartet will be a first for the series and also the first local performance by a recorder quartet since that of the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet at the Lancaster Opera House more than a decade ago.

The recorder was one of the most important instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, but it fell into deep neglect after the 18th century, with one of the latest known uses being that by Gluck, to produce an otherworldly sound in his 1762 opera Orfeo ed Euridice, when composers began favoring the extended musical ranges of the modern flute and clarinet. The revival of the recorder began in the early 20th century with Arnold Dolmetsch, a French-born musician who spent most of his working life in England and various other musicians on the Continent, who had received their musical training at the Brussels Conservatoire in Belgium, as had Dolmetsch. The instrument was used almost exclusively by small numbers of early instrumentalists before the post-World War II explosion of recorder-playing as a musical education tool for school children, and its enthusiastic embrace by adult amateur musicians in groups such as our own Buffalo Recorder Society, which meets the first and third Monday of every month in Allen Hall on the UB Main Street Campus.

Given the long history of Belgium-trained musicians in the modern revival of the recorder, it comes as no surprise that the Flanders Recorder Quartet, one of the most highly regarded recorder ensembles now performing, is based in that country. Formed in 1987, the Flanders Recorder Quartet earned early recognition through their success at the prestigious Musica Antiqua Competition in Bruges, and the group has performed more than 1,800 concerts in 42 countries on five continents, including some in world-famous concert halls in Tokyo, New York, and Salzburg, recording numerous prize-winning recordings for record companies such as Harmonia Mundi and Archiv/Deutsche Grammophon. Their extensive collection of instruments includes reproductions after originals from the collection of Henry VIII, and a Baroque contrabass recorder that is almost eight feet in length, making each of the their concerts an unforgettably unique experience.

The first half of Tuesday’s concert will be devoted to the music of J. S. Bach, while the second half of the program will feature music ranging from that of the troubled 17th-century Italian composer Tarquinio Merula, whose sensational antics could be featured in a New York Post headline, to that of the contemporary Belgian composer Frans Geysen, who has composed prolifically for the instrument.

For tickets and information, visit

A Very Early Christmas

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday in November, and that means that this year Thanksgiving is celebrated on November 22, the earliest calendar date possible. It also means that the two, favorite classical Christmas music productions traditionally offered on the weekend after Thanksgiving will also be presented a full month before Christmas.

For the fourth consecutive season, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea’s Performing Arts Center and Neglia Ballet Artists will stage the premier Buffalo-area production of The Nutcracker for two performances only, on Saturday, November 24 at 7pm, and on Sunday, November 25 at 2pm, at the Shea’s Performing Arts Center. While there are several local productions of The Nutcracker, this is the only production that features a live performance by an entire symphony orchestra, along with the dancers of the Neglia Ballet, Buffalo’s premiere classical ballet company. For more information, visit

Now in its third season, Nickel City Opera’s production of Menotti’s delightful, Christmas-themed one-act opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda, has quickly become a local holiday tradition. The fully staged production is about an hour long, and it features NCO founder and Metropolitan Opera bass Valerian Ruminski, along with lyric soprano Mary Kay Atlas, who has made the role of the mother her own in previous performances, along with master organist Ivan Docenko at the keyboard of the mighty Wurlitzer. Matinee performances are at 3pm this Friday and Sunday, with evening performances at 7pm on Friday and Saturday. For tickets and information, call 692-2413 or visit

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