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Camerata di Sant'Antonio offers a different kind of Christmas concert
by Jan Jezioro
There are literally dozens of concerts in Western New York during the month of December that feature the kind of traditional classical Christmas musical fare that the vast majority of classical music fans crave. Christopher Weber, the creative founding artistic director of the popular and long-running Camerata di Sant’Antonio Chamber Music series, however, has managed once again to come up with a way to appropriately celebrate the season that goes beyond the obvious. The Camerata once again explores a new, distinctive Buffalo venue on Saturday, December 13 at Central Park United Methodist Church, 216 Beard Avenue. An architectural tour will begin at 1pm, followed by a concert at 2pm.
The young soprano Emily Helenbrook, a favorite of Western New York audiences, will sing the joyously radiant Mozart motet, Exsultate Jubilate. Helenbrook has already enjoyed a high profile singing career locally, so it might come as a surprise that she is in her junior year at the Eastman School of Music.
“I am so excited to be singing the Exsultate again,” says Hellenbrook. “I’ve sung movements of the piece with the BPO and in other contexts, but never the entire work with an orchestra. This is an exciting year for my growth as a singer and I was so honored to be asked that I can’t wait to work with maestro Weber and the Camerata. Since I’ve done parts of the piece often as I’ve grown up, it’s wonderful to think that I can finally bring it all together, with a new sense of a more complete understanding of my own voice as it has grown.”
“I was accepted into the Arts Leadership program at Eastman where we work for a certificate, taking courses in leadership skills and creativity outside of the practice room, and experience two internships in art institutions. In one of those classes, I had the opportunity to interview George Steel of the New York City Opera, just two or three weeks before his company unfortunately went bankrupt. I had hoped for a quick phone call, but instead he invited me to the dress rehearsal of the opera Anna Nicole and then we went to dinner where he spoke about the state of the company and his ideas about leadership. Also at Eastman, I had the opportunity to sing for a second time as the featured alumni soloist on the NPR Radio Show, From the Top accompanied by the program host, pianist Christopher O’Riley.”
“In March, I’m very much looking forward to singing as the soloist with the BPO at Kleinhans under the direction of maestra JoAnn Falletta, in a rare, complete performance of the music drama Egmont,” a work last performed by the orchestra in 1970.
The Camerata di Sant’Antonio has developed a well-earned reputation for locally premiering both brand-new contemporary works and overlooked gems that may be centuries old. Paul Schlossman, the group’s multi-talented oboist, never fails to unearth works that are both intrinsically and musically interesting, as is the case for the Divertimento in C major, Op 9 by the clarinetist Bernhard Henrik Crusell (1775-1838), the internationally best-known Finnish-born composer before Sibelius. Being one of the finest clarinetists of his age, Crusell writes for the oboe, another wind instrument, using many gestures derived from operatic music. The spirited codetta of the opening movement gives the oboist the opportunity to show off some very high notes, before leading into a cadenza for the oboe which unexpectedly leads directly into the minor key slow movement, whose more serious sounding mood is eventually banished by the allegro vivace finale, which follows without a break.
Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg wrote his five-movement Holberg Suite using 18th century dance forms in 1884 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Danish-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg. Originally composed for the piano, Grieg adapted his irresistibly charming work for string orchestra a year later, making it an early example of the late 19th century attempt to recapture the spirit of Baroque-era music.
Tickets: $17 at the door or in advance by calling: (716) 856-3626
The Messiah at the BPO
Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus Music director Erin Freeman will be on the podium in Kleinhans Music Hall to lead performances of the BPO “Classical Christmas” concert on Friday, December 12 at 10:30am and on Saturday December 13 at 8pm. The program will feature a performance of Handel’s mighty oratorio The Messiah, featuring soprano Michelle Areyzaga and mezzo-soprano Jessica Renfro, along with tenor Matthew Anderson and baritone Sumner Thompson, along with a selection of other favorite Holiday classics, from “O Holy Night” to “Sleigh Ride.”
Then on Sunday December 14, everyone is invited to join the BPO and the BPO Chorus at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church for a ‘Messiah Sing-Along’, with rehearsal beginning at 4pm, followed by a public performance at 7:30pm.
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