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Charles Haupt

Charles Haupt
(photo: Irene Haupt)

Why you should know who he is:

If you don’t know who he is, perhaps you’ve never been to a performance of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Charles Haupt, who has been the BPO’s concertmaster for an astonishing 37 years, is, as much as JoAnn Falletta or any of the BPO’s illustrious list of conductors, among the first faces that regular concert-goers associate with the orchestra. A violinist of exquisite technique and emotional range, Haupt has performed under the baton of such luminaries as Josef Krips, Leonard Bernstein, Julius Rudel, Michael Tilson Thomas and Joseph Steinberg, and alongside such names as Pinchas Zukerman, André Watts, Jascha Heifetz and Itzhak Perlman. He has served as concertmaster for the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, has been a soloist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and is a former member of the Baird Piano Trio in residence at SUNY at Buffalo. He has taught master classes at the New World Symphony, SUNY at Buffalo and the Eastman School of Music, where he is a part-time member of the faculty. He was also Artvoice’s first ever Artist of the Week, back in 2001.

Education:

Attended Juilliard and Mannes College of Music. Studied with Nadia Boulanger, Dorothy DeLay, Ivan Galamian and William Kroll. Received a Fulbright grant to study at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris.

Current project:

Haupt’s career soon will take a turn—he is leaving his long-time post with the BPO—and the first big project in the new phase of his professional life is an ambitious one: a concert series titled “A Musical Feast,” to be held at D’Youville College’s Kavinoky Theatre. The first program, featuring works by Ysaye, Schoenberg, Britten, Mozart, Dvorak and Bax, takes place Wednesday, March 29. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 829-7668 or visit www.kavinokytheatre.com.

Tell us about your new concert series.

“It looks like its going to be very nice. We’ll be combining 20th century repertory and classical romantic repertory—mixing them up and trying to make some sort of coherence between them. We’re bringing in very good players, too. For example, this first concert will feature Jesse Levine [professor of viola at Yale University], Charlies Castleman [professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music], Cheryl Gobbetti Hoffman [professor of flute and chamber music at SUNY at Buffalo] and pianist Claudia Hoca [orchestral soloist for the BPO].

The first concert is more geared toward presenting something that exemplifies what we’re trying to do without being too technical, too scholastic about it. We’re just trying to get good players together to make good music. I want this to be a fun concert.

You want to start with a bang.

[Laughing] We hope so, one way or the other.

What do you hope to achieve in juxtaposing these sorts of pieces?

Well, for example, we can talk about Bach and we can talk about some of the 20th century people who are deriving music from Bach—perhaps someone like Lukas Foss in his Baroque Variations, which uses Bach and other baroque composers. He’s improvising on their works. We’re going to be looking at the evolutions, too—Brahms to Strauss and Strauss to Schoenberg, for example.

But, like I said, I’m really trying to avoid making it into some sort of elitist, intellectual exercise. I really want to avoid that.

Are you choosing the music?

David Felder [SUNY at Buffalo professor of composition] runs June in Buffalo and is a very fine composer. He an I will be consulting regularly about the kind of programs we want to put together. It’s an informal arrangement. The guy knows more about music than just about anyone else I’ve ever met. A very wise fellow.

What’s it like to leave your position as the BPO’s concertmaster after so many years?

You know, it’s time to move on—I’ve been there 37 years, you know. It’s a whole lifetime. I’m already doing quite a lot of other things; I teach at the Eastman School, of Music. I do a lot of playing elsewhere, which I will increase. That means more traveling, which is not my cup of tea, but that’s part of the game.

Care to share some particularly memorable moments in your tenure with the BPO?

I was fortunate enough to be here when Joseph Krips came back for a guest appearance after he had left. That was a remarkable experience; he was just fantastic. And of course Lukas [Foss], it was wonderful working for him. I enjoyed them all tremendously—Lukas and Michael Tilson Thomas and Semyon Bychkov and Julius Rudel and Max Valdes. I really worked very well with all of them. We’ve had some great conductors.