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BPO Cellists Take Center Stage at The Friends of Vienna

Feng Hew, David Schmude, Amelie Fradette and Eva Herer

Cello Power

What do you get when you invite half of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s cello section to present a recital on your concert series? Well, if BPO associate principal Feng Hew and her fellow section members Amelie Fradette, David Schmude and Eva Herer get together to perform duos, trios and quartets for cello, you certainly get “Cello Power” the name of the next event on the Friends of Vienna series that takes place on Sunday, March 29 at 3:30pm at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Avenue.

The varied program will offer such seldom heard rarities from the 19th century German tradition as the Cello Quartet, Op. 6, a 1884 work by Josef Werner, principal cellist for the Munich Hofkapelle (the work’s title page describes it as quartet for either 4 cellos, or 3 cellos and a viola, but for this performance, violists need not apply). Two other works, Theme and Variations, Op.28 and Four Pieces, Op. 33 are by Julius Klengel, professor of cello at the Leipzig Conservatory from 1881 until his death in 1933 whose pupils included such giants of 20th century cello performance as Piatigorsky, Feuermann and William Pleeth, Jacqueline Du Pre’s teacher.

The recital will also feature transcriptions and arrangements of popular works by Mozart—the Overture from The Marriage of Figaro and the Queen of the Night’s aria from The Magic Flute, Manuel de Falla—the ritual fire dance from El Amor brujo, and Bartok—Maruntel from Rumanian Folk Dances. A genuine showpiece, Paganini’s Variations on the A String on a theme by Rossini will feature two of the cellists playing a work originally written to be played on the lowest string, the G string, for violin on the single highest string for cello. And, lest we forget that there was a tremendous amount of tango music written before Astor Piazzolla, Tango “Por una cabeza,” composed by Carlos Gardel just before his death in an airplane crash in 1935, will remind us of why he still embodies the soul of the tango style for many Argentines.

Tickets: $10/5 students


Venus and Adonis at the Buffalo Seminary

Productions of Baroque opera in Buffalo are as rare as hen’s teeth, so opera lovers will not want to miss the opportunity to see one of the Buffalo Chamber Player’s two performances of John Blow’s chamber opera Venus and Adonis, on Friday March 27 at 7:30pm and Sunday March 29 at 2:30pm in the Buffalo Seminary on Bidwell Parkway. John Blow began his musical life when he was selected as a boy chorister for the Chapel Royal, and he went on to become a highly influential musician during the Restoration, eventually becoming organist and master of the choristers of Westminster Abbey and eventually Composer to the Chapel Royal. Most of his compositions are of a religious nature, including many anthems, reflecting his official positions. The sole surviving dramatic work that he composed is Venus and Adonis, and several mysteries surround it. Musicologists generally credit Venus and Adonis with being the first true, English opera, as it has no spoken dialogue between musical numbers. It is now thought that it was composed around 1683 for a private performance before King Charles II and his court, but where and exactly when this took place remains unknown. There was only one subsequent contemporary performance of which we have a record, and that took place on April 17, 1684 in a semipublic production at Josias Priest’s boarding school for young gentle women at Chelsea, making for a nice tie-in to this production at another school for girls, the Buffalo Seminary. After that the work literally vanished from sight until its re-discovery and publication in the early 20th century. It was fatally eclipsed perhaps by the lasting success of the only other English opera to have survived from this period, Dido and Aeneas by Blow’s more famous pupil, Henry Purcell, a work also first performed, incidentally, at Priest’s boarding school, probably in 1688.

The future King Charles had fled to France near the beginning of the English Civil War, where he imbued the royal culture of the court of the young French King Louis XIV. Charles was also very much a vigorous outdoorsman, and both passions are reflected in the story and treatment of Venus and Adonis. The opera starts out as a lyrical pastoral, but the librettist, who is unknown, completely reverses the story of Venus and Adonis as related by Ovid, with Venus urging her reluctant lover Adonis to leave her for the boar hunt that later claims his life.

Soprano Colleen Marcello, who has scored recent successes for Opera Sacra in roles such as the title role in Suor Angelica, Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda and perhaps most memorably, as Blanche in Dialogue of the Carmelites, will sing the role of Venus, while baritone Kyle Botsford is Adonis. Buffalo Seminary students Madison Chamberlain and Tracy Clark will alternate in the role of Cupid while the cast also includes members of Vocalis Chamber Choir, St. Paul’s Cathedral Boys’ Choir and Neglia Ballet.

Tickets: $15/5 students

Information: 462-5659, or


Camerata di Sant’Antonio celebrates black composers

On Sunday, March 29 the Camerata di Sant’ Antonio Chamber Orchestra presents a celebration of the music of black composers at Blessed Trinity Church, 317 Leroy Avenue. The event features the Western NY premieres of the Sinfonia Concertante for Two Violins by the 18th century French composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges, known as “Le Mozart Noir” and the Haytian Dances, of Samuel Coleridge Taylor, the turn of the 20th century English composer sometimes referred to as the “Black Mahler” as well as Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Schubert’s Polonaise for Violin and Strings. There is an architectural tour at 2:15pm, preceding the 3pm concert, with a reception afterwards.

Tickets: $17, Information: 856-3626

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