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BPO Dresses Down for Summer Nights

BPO Dresses Down
for Summer Nights

Orchestra ends summer season on a casual note at
Kleinhans and Fort Niagara

Associate conductor Stefan Sanders wraps up the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s summer season, and his first season as associate conductor this weekend, in three different concert programs. The orchestra then goes on a well-earned seven-week hiatus before kicking off its 2015-2016 season with a special appearance by the phenomenal Chinese pianist Lang Lang on Wednesday September 16. This Friday and Saturday’s concerts in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall both begin at 7pm, while the summer season’s final concert on Sunday at Old Fort Niagara begins at 8pm.

Baroque and Brews on Friday

Friday evening’s concert, which features a craft beer tasting, is definitely the heavyweight of the bunch. Two complete works by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Orchestral Suite No. 3 and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 are featured, as well as Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, all works that have been performed over the years on regular BPO concert series programs on the main stage at Kleinhans. The performance of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G minor, featuring BPO cellists Amelie Fradette and David Schmude as soloists, will be a BPO premiere.

“We have both played the Vivaldi before,” says Fradette, “but never together with the BPO. David performed it with his youth orchestra in Michigan when he was a student and I myself played it twice, once as a student with the orchestra at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montreal and with Ars Nova here in Buffalo. David and I are very pleased to collaborate together again and to have the opportunity to play this beautiful concerto with our colleagues at the BPO. It doesn’t often happen that we get to step into the spotlight, so it’s very exciting for us.”

Mozart and Mingle on Saturday

The BPO has had a wonderful tradition of performing a program completely dedicated to the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sometime around the anniversary of his birth on January 27, and this past winter was no exception, as Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and flutist Demarre McGill offered a stellar rendition of the composer’s Concerto for Flute and Harp and Orchestra during an all-Mozart program. Of course, this begs the question: “Can we ever hear too much Mozart”? For many classical music lovers, including this writer, the answer is self-evident.

Luckily, the forces that be at the BPO feel exactly the same way, since this summer’s final concert in Kleinhans is another all-Mozart event that should be not be missed, since it features the fresh young singer, Emily Helenbrook. Last March Emily appeared with the BPO as the angelically voiced soprano in the orchestra’s highly effective semi-staged presentation of Beethoven’s complete incidental music to Goethe’s drama Egmont.

Helenbrook, who will be entering her senior year at the Eastman School of Music in the fall, will be singing Blondchen’s aria “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln”, from The Abduction from the Seraglio. “This piece is a sweet and funny aria where the servant, Blondchen, scolds the brute, Osmin, who roughly tried to seduce her,” says Emily. “She explains that the way to win a woman is with kindness, tenderness, and coaxing, not commands and abuse, before threatening to scratch his eyes out. Sung in German, the range in this piece is quite high, stretching to three high E’s, quite a surprising and fun stretch, and it’s a really charming piece. The more well-known selection is Susanna’s aria “Deh vieni non tardar” from Le Nozze di Figaro which she sings in the garden while waiting for the complicated web of schemes, woven by the Countess and herself, to unravel. She knows that her beloved Figaro is nearby, so she sings this beautiful love song within earshot of him, just to tease and toy with his jealousy. The piece is interesting because the tessitura is actually quite low, as is the role of Susanna in general. I think it’s a testament to Mozart’s genius as his composing reflects the lower station of Susanna but also her earthy and centered qualities. This piece is such a pleasure to sing, and given that Susanna is a role I dream about playing someday, I feel so lucky to be able to sing her aria on Saturday. She really is the brains behind the entire opera.

“I think the idea behind the Summer Nights at Kleinhans is wonderful. You can bring a picnic to enjoy beforehand, and then can enjoy some mingling and Mozart in the intimate space of the Mary Seaton Room. I can’t think of a better way to hear Mozart, and I am excited to be singing with the Buffalo Philharmonic again, and as always, I feel honored to be performing among such kind, talented and supportive musicians.”

The program also includes single movements from Mozart’s 25th, 33rd, 35th and 40th symphonies as well as a rare performance of Haydn’s delightfully whimsical Toy Symphony, a work which actually may have been composed by Mozart’s father, Leopold.

Old Fort Niagara on Sunday

The program for the BPO’s final concert of the summer could have been lifted from an Independence Day concert. Arrangements of the American and the Canadian national anthems will be joined by John Philipp Sousa’s Washington Post March and Stars and Stripes Forever and Morton Gould’s American Salute as well as America the Beautiful. On a less specifically patriotic note, selections from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story will be featured as well as the La gazza ladra Overture by that least overtly patriotic composer, Gioachino Rossini. Of special interest, the young violinist Angel Rhodes, who just graduated from Orchard Park High School and who will be attending the Eastman School of Music in September, will be the soloist in the “Allegro non troppo” movement from Concerto No. 5 in A minor for Violin and Orchestra, by Vieuxtemps. And, just in case anyone was worried, yes, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture will be performed, along with a fireworks display.

Information: 885-5000 or

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