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The Chamber is Open

Buffalo Chamber Players kick off new season with gala performance

The good news is that the Buffalo Chamber Players open their 2009-2010 season at the Buffalo Seminary on Bidwell Parkway on Wednesday, October 14 at 7pm. The better news is that the group has expanded its season, adding an additional fourth concert.

The very best news for classical music lovers is that the Buffalo Chamber Players just keep getting better as time goes on. Last season’s final concert by the group was a genuine coup de théâtre: a recreation of a fully staged 1951 production of Igor Stravinsky’s 1918 work, The Soldier’s Tale. Amazingly, not only was that 1951 production the premiere production of the work in Buffalo, but further research revealed that the original event had occurred in the Buffalo Seminary, the home of the Buffalo Chamber Players. The revival of that production, based on the designs created for the original by Buffalo born painter Martha Hamlin Visser’t Hooft (1906-1994), one of this region’s most respected artists, took place in the exact same location.

Members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra have had a long history of playing in, and often forming chamber music groups; currently active groups include the Ars Nova Chamber Musicians, the premiere baroque music group in Western New York; the Clara String Quartet; the Philharmonic String Quartet; and the Clavio Trio. And don’t forget the Amberg Quartet, who last Sunday afternoon delivered a memorable performance at the inaugural concert of the newly revived Friends of Vienna concert series; that performance included the premiere of a beautifully themed work, To Music, written for the occasion as a surprise gift by the Buffalo based composer Persis Vehar.

Within this artistic constellation, the Buffalo Chamber Players, founded by BPO violist Janz Castelo in 2007, have created their own unique niche performing both chamber music favorites and rarely heard masterpieces in ever-varying combinations of instrumentalists and vocal artists, with the core of BPO members being joined by the very finest local free-lance musicians and singers.

The BCP, under the guidance of artistic director Janz Castelo, have always displayed an admirable sense of occasion, and the first concert of this season is no exception. The 200th anniversary of the birth of Felix Mendelssohn has been celebrated worldwide this year, with the BPO’s tribute to the composer capped off by the orchestra’s own premiere performance of the mighty Symphony No. 2 Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise) last spring. The performance of Mendelssohn’s marvelously melodic Octet in E-flat, Op. 20, written for double string quartet with an extended use of counterpoint, should be a highlight of the evening. This year also marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of the Henry Purcell, the master of English baroque composition, which will be commemorated with a performance of the composer’s stirring Sonata for Trumpet and Strings in D, Z. 850. Franz Schubert’s lovely String Trio in B-flat, D. 471, a work in one movement, is also on the program. Finally, a work that had been scheduled for last season but was cancelled due to the illness of a performer makes a welcome return to Wednesday’s program. Soprano Sebnem Mekinulov will sing Johannes Brahms’ late vocal masterpiece, the warm, darkly textured Two Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano, Op. 91. Mekinulov has appeared often with the BPO, including in the role of Micaëla, in the orchestra’s production of Bizet’s Carmen at Artpark.

The event takes place at Buffalo Seminary (205 Bidwell Parkway) at 7pm and is open to the public. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets are $15 general admission/$5 for students and can be purchased at and at the door. For more information, call 462-5659 or visit

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