A Midsummer Night's Music
by Jan Jezioro
Camerata di Sant'Antonio and the Harmonia Chamber Singers
Christopher Weber, founder and music director of the Camerata di Sant’Antonio, thought that he had an ideal venue for his now more than decade-long chamber orchestra concert music series, in the sanctuary of St. Anthony of Padua’s R.C. Church, located directly behind Buffalo City Hall. The Camerata enjoyed wonderful support from many of the members of the church’s congregation who not only attended every concert, but who were instrumental in preparing and providing the excellent refreshments at every post-concert reception in the church’s social hall. Alas, circumstances changed, and the Camerata began a peripatetic existence last season that found it playing concerts in other historic places of worship in Western New York.
For its last previous concert, in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at the end of May, the Camerata launched an exciting new approach that it is calling its TakeNote initiative. Although admission to the Camerata’s TakeNote concerts is now free, with the musicians of the Camerata donating their services, each of the events is planned to draw attention to and support for a worthy cause. The group’s last concert benefitted Wings Flights of Hope, a group whose mission is to help people in need of free air transportation for medical and humanitarian purposes. The Camerata’s next concert is on Friday July 10th at 7:30pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 21 Church Street, Lockport for which a free will donation will be accepted, with all proceeds to benefit Niagara Hospice.
“We will be joined by the men of the Harmonia Chamber Singers, including the group’s director Robert Pacillo, for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Music’ which we are presenting as a triptych,” says Weber “and the concert will include three regional premieres.”
The first two sections of the musical triptych will feature the men of the Harmonia Chamber Singers. The songs of “Reverie” are in English and include “Blackbird” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “If I Loved You” from the musical Carousel by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and the traditional sea shanty “What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor” as arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw. The mood will shift in “Reverence” which includes “Tout puissant, très saint” and “Seigneur, je vous en prie” from Francis Poulenc’s Quatre petites prières de Saint François d’Assise as well as the Ave Maria by the 20th century German composer Franz Xaver Biebl. The strings of the Camerata will then join the singers for the regional premiere of contemporary American composer Steven Sametz’ David et Jonathan, a setting of the Latin language text of I Samuel, 18 and the first of the composer’s Three Biblical Love Songs. The final “Romance” section will feature the Camerata in the area premiere of Arnold Schoenberg’s Notturno for Strings and Harp. While a review of the 1896 premiere of the Notturno, Schoenberg’s first publically performed work, in the Neue musikalische Presse described it as “very atmospheric” it was lost for over a century before being rediscovered in 2001. Also on the program are two well known works, Debussy’s Clair de Lune and the Verano Porteno (Summer) movement from The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla, the master of nuevo tango. The Harmonia singers will end the concert by joining the musicians for two other local premieres, Schubert’s Gesang der Geister aus dem Wasser and Tarantella (Jubilate Agno) by contemporary American choral composer Z. Randall Stroope.
BPO Returns to Artpark
In the not too distant past, the BPO had its summer home at Artpark in Lewiston, presenting a half dozen or so full length summer programs featuring celebrated soloists such as the violinist Joshua Bell, while even occasionally presenting semi-staged concert versions of operas like Carmen. The management of Artpark then evidently found it more profitable to concentrate on presenting non-classical music concerts and it’s been several seasons since the BPO has appeared at Artpark. This season, however, the BPO returns to the Artpark stage for two concerts, one classical and one decidedly un-classical. This Saturday July 11 at 7pm the BPO’s new associate conductor Stefan Sanders will lead the orchestra in the program devoted to the film music of John Williams. Marches from Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark are on the program as well as the theme music from Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, E.T. and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as well as the complete Orchestral Suite from Star Wars.
The Grateful Dead may have presented their sold out, final mega-concerts as a band just this past weekend at Soldier Field in Chicago, but their music is not going away anytime soon. Case in point, this Sunday a full-day festival celebrating the Grateful Dead sound, headlined by one of their early collaborators—yes, the BPO, will take place at Artpark where the gates open at 2pm. Local favorites Savannah and the Kings, The Growlers and Hayden Fogle and the Ambassadors kick things off. National Grateful Dead bluegrass tribute act The Grass is Dead is featured, as well as another top Dead tribute band The Maniacs. Crazy Fingers joins the BPO for what is being promoted as “a psychedelic set that will take you back to the glory days of the Grateful Dead.”
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