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A Classical Christmas

One of the greatest pleasures of the holiday season is the opportunity to see and hear a wide variety of Christmas music performed by favorite artists. The following round up highlights some of the most popular events.

A Pair of Nutcrackers and Three Irish Tenors

On Saturday, November 28 at 7pm and Sunday, November 29 at 2pm, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra joins the Neglia Ballet Artists at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in presenting Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet The Nutcracker. This traditional production of the work was conceived and choreographed by Sergio Neglia, artistic director of Neglia Ballet Artists, along with executive director Heidi Halt Neglia.

What helps to make this production special is that it will feature live musical accompaniment by the BPO. Along with the corps de ballet, soloists, and principal professional ballet dancers, the children’s roles will be filled by students of the Neglia Conservatory of Ballet and other local dancers. Vincent O’Neill, founder and artistic director of the Irish Classical Theater, will play the pivotal role of Herr Drosselmeyer.

Neglia Ballet has developed a collaborative partnership with the UB Center for the Performing Arts and the UB Department of Theatre and Dance to produce the sets and costumes. The production will premier lavish new sets designed by UB associate professor Lynne Koscielniak, director of design and technology, and more than 100 costumes designed by Donna Massimo, costume shop manager for the department. Michele Costa, the region’s premier puppeteer, who will briefly appear onstage in the puppet theater scene, also created various masks, puppets, and costumes, including that of the soldier’s horses. Tickets are $29, $40, $55, $65 via

The Mainstage Theatre of the UB Center for the Arts will once again present the American Academy of Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker on Saturday, December 5 at 1pm and 7pm, and Sunday, December 6 at 1pm. This version of the holiday classic, which is performed to a recorded soundtrack, is narrated by the grandfather at the Christmas Eve celebration at Clara’s home, with special flying effects and a hot air balloon as the prince and Clara visit exotic countries and a Victorian circus. A favorite of audiences is their visit “Under the Sea,” where lobsters, turtles, mermaids, and sea urchins charm and delight.

Daniel Ulbricht, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, dances the role of the Cavalier, and Misa Kuranaga, a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet, is his Sugar Plum Fairy, with Joe Cipolla in the role of Drosselmeyer, More than 200 area ballet students perform the children’s roles. Tickets are $18.50, $21.50, and $26.50 at

On Friday, December 11 at 8pm, the Mainstage Theatre of the UB Center for the Arts will be the location for a performance by the Irish Tenors. The three Irish Tenors—Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns, and Karl Scully—are all classically trained vocalists who have been a favorite of Buffalo audiences for the past decade. They will perform with a 30-piece orchestra in a memorable program of Irish and holiday classics as well as contemporary favorites. Tickets are $33.50, $41.50, and $49.50 at

BPO Holiday Concerts

The BPO Classical Christmas program will be presented in Kleinhans Music Hall on Friday, December 11 at 10:30am, and on Saturday, December 12 at 8pm. Matthew Kraemer, now in his first season as associate conductor of the BPO, will lead the orchestra in a program of orchestral favorites traditionally associated with the holiday season.

On Sunday, December 13 at 2:30pm, guest conductor Paul Ferington will celebrate Christmas with a program geared towards younger listeners, billed as “A Visit From St. Nick,” which will feature a special appearance by Santa Claus himself.

BPO music director JoAnn Falletta will be on the podium of Kleinhans Music Hall to lead a program billed as “Deck the Halls,” this year’s version of the ever popular Holiday Pops concerts, for three performances: Friday, December 18 at 8pm, Saturday, December 19 at 8pm, and Sunday, December 20 at 2:30pm. The BPO will be joined by the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, led by its music director, Doreen Rao; the Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus; narrator Neil Garvey; soprano Michele Ragusa; and American Idol’s John Stevens. The program of popular favorites will include Tchaikovsky’s Suite from the Nutcracker, Opus 71a, the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah, The Carol of the Bells, as well as a Christmas carol sing-a-long.

Tickets for Holiday Pops and Classical Christmas start at just $30. For “A Visit with St. Nick,” kids tickets are $8 and adults only $12. Call 885-5000 or visit

The Messiah with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus

For many classical music lovers, Christmas is not Christmas without a performance of Handel’s Messiah, one of the all-time most popular choral works, and this year the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus presents a pair of opportunities to hear it. On Monday, November 23 at 7:30pm, pre-registered audience members can sing along with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus at St. Stephan’s Church, 2100 Baseline Road on Grand Island. BPC music director Doreen Rao “will lead a lively and informative rehearsal-style Messiah, teaching and conducting Messiah choruses with solo arias and continuo.” Bring a copy of the Messiah, if you intend to sing, or reserve a copy for $10. To register, call 833-6642 or email Also, don’t forget to bring a non-perishable food item to benefit the Grand Island Neighbors Foundation.

On Sunday, December 6 at 7pm, Rao will conduct the BCP and the Capriccio Chamber Orchestra in a performance of the Messiah at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna. In the true spirit of the season, the Child Care Resource Network will benefit from this performance, with tickets costing $20. For information, visit

The Friends of Vienna Herald the Sounds of the Season

On Sunday, December 6 at 3:30pm, The Friends of Vienna present the Niagara Frontier Brass Quintet in a program entitled “The Sounds of the Season” at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Founded in 1989, the Niagara Frontier Brass Quintet—Diana Bley (trombone, euphonium), Niles Dening (tuba), James Francisco (trumpet), Richard Goss (trumpet), and Alison Lagowski (French horn)—have delighted audiences in a wide variety of local venues with their stylish arrangements of music for brass. The program of carols and songs will range from music by J.S. Bach’s “My Spirit Be Joyful” to contemporary favorites like “Joy to the World.” As is traditional for Friends of Vienna events, a meet-the-artists reception with coffee and cookies will follow the event. As part of a community outreach program recently established by their new artistic director, Mary Kay Atlas, the Friends of Vienna will also sponsor a concert by the Niagara Frontier Brass Quintet at the Frank Sedita Academy, a Buffalo Public School located on the lower West Side. Tickets are $8 general admission, $6 for students, and $1 for children under the age of 12. For more information, visit

The Freudig Singers Serve a Slice of Christmas Pie

This will be the 10th anniversary for a genuinely unique Buffalo tradition created by the Freudig Singers. During every holiday season, the Freudig Singers have offered a pair of concerts in area churches, featuring some of the most rarely performed gems in the vast, Christmas music repertory. The group has also established the tradition of dishing out delicious post-concert pie, donated by Murphy’s Main Street Station in Hamburg, to hundreds of concert-goers. “A Christmas Pie: Audience Choice,” featuring the Buffalo Seminary Glee Club, will be served on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 pm at St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church, on Colonial Circle in Buffalo.

A second helping of pie, with the Hamburg Middle School Choralistas, will be served on Sunday, December 6 at 7pm at the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 South Buffalo Street. Christmas carols by J.S. Bach, Elziarii Geneti, John Joubert, Vernon Hoyl, Orlandus Lassus, and music director, Roland Martin are on the menu. Tickets at the door are $12 general admission, $10 for students or seniors, pie included. Presale tickets are $10 and $8, and group discounts are available. Call 667-7088 or visit for more information. Presale reservations are highly recommended as the tickets usually sell like hotcakes.

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