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Amici Del Canto

Vincenzo DeBlasis and Stefania Donzelli

The fall season begins with a special Friends of Vienna vocal event

It is official: the late summer Buffalo classical music doldrums will be over on Sunday, September 7 at 3:30pm when the Friends of Vienna open their 39th season with a special recital in the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Avenue. The concert will feature voice faculty members of both the Fredonia School of Music and the State Conservatory of Music in Pescara, Italy in an event that is being billed as “Amici del Canto” (Friends Singing). And, just a week later, on September 14, the Friends of Vienna will return to their more usual programming repertoire when pianist Eric Huebner teams up with violinist Yuki Numata Resnick for a recital of 19th and 20th century masterpieces.

A neat thing about this event is that it came about serendipitously, beginning just a few short weeks ago. The Friends of Vienna had already had their upcoming, 2014-2015 six-concert series season set, when they received a request from Julie Newell, one of the most active and vocally eloquent mezzo-sopranos in Western New York. Newell, a SUNY distinguished teaching professor and Chancellor’s Award recipient of vocal studies at Fredonia, informed the FOV that two singers and a pianist from the conservatory of music in Pescara, Italy, the birthplace of Rossini, were coming to Fredonia for a week, beginning on September 3. Newell wondered if the Friends of Vienna might be interested in having their Italian guest artists appear on one of their concerts.

Sandra Buongrazio

While there have been more than enough bad jokes about “an offer too good to refuse”, Newell’s offer was exactly just that, especially since she would also be performing with her Italian guests, along with baritone Daniel Ihasz, a Fredonia colleague. So, the Friends of Vienna scrambled to add this new concert to their season, making it a free, bonus concert for their season subscribers and donors, while selling any remaining tickets at the door. Luckily, everything fell in place to allow this event, which will feature well-known and beloved arias and ensembles from the great history of Italian opera by Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini, to happen. While soprano Stefania Donzelli and pianist Vincenzo DeBlasis have visited Fredonia on several occasions for both recitals and master classes in Italian repertoire, this will be mezzo-soprano Sandra Buongrazio’s first visit.

As Newell explains, “The Fredonia—Pescara faculty exchange began more than five years ago, and has developed into what will now also include a student oriented exchange program in future years. Members of the Fredonia faculty have visited the Pescara conservatory to offer master classes in American song literature and voice science and Pescara faculty have traveled to Fredonia to offer classes in the Italian repertoire and style”. Newell offered master classes in American Song Literature in Pescara in 2011 and Dan Ihasz will visit in the winter of 2015 for classes in Voce Vista.

Students from both Pescara and Fredonia will have the opportunity to study for a full semester in the host location. They will receive 12 credit hours of music courses, in voice, vocal literature, language and opera training. Fredonia students will experience the rare opportunity of living with Italian host families, while the Pescara students will enjoy the even more rare opportunity of living in an American college dorm room.

Yuki Namata Resnick and Eric Huebner at the FOV

Among two of the best appointments to any college or university music department in Western New York in the last half decade, or so, has been that of Eric Huebener as assistant professor of piano, and Yuki Numata Resnick, as assistant professor of violin, at the University at Buffalo. Huebner, who also holds the enviable position of staff pianist to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, has by general consent of local music lovers, moved to the very front rank of pianists currently performing in our area. While violinist Yuki Numata Resnick may not have yet achieved the same level of informed, popular acclaim, it is a given in this quarter that she is without a doubt one of the most exciting, audaciously adventurous violinists in Buffalo.

Resnick and Huebner will perform their first FOV duo recital at the Unity Church on Sunday, September 14 at 3:30pm. While their program includes Brahms’ Sonata for violin & piano in D minor, a mainstay of the repertoire, they are venturing into less familiar territory by programming Schumann’s reconstructed Sonata No. 3 along with Webern’s Four Pieces, for the same instrumental combination. The not to be missed work, however, is Berio’s Sequenza VIII for solo violin, an amazing tour de force with which Numata has astounded us before.

Tickets: $10, $5 students. Information:

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