Violinist Joshua Bell to Kick Off Buffalo Philharmonic's 2016-17 Season, 9/17

Violinist Joshua Bell to Kick Off Buffalo Philharmonic's 2016-17 Season, 9/17
Photo Credit: Phil Knott

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra begins its 2016-17 season on Sept. 17. After well-received summer concerts, JoAnn Falletta brings Western New York a new season filled with drama, theatrics, superstars and rising stars.

Joshua Bell Kicks off Season

Since Joshua Bell's 2012 performance with the BPO, classical music lovers have anticipated the return of the celebrated violinist. The BPO's season begins on Saturday, Sept. 17 with Bell's performance of Bruch's Violin Concerto under the baton of Music Director JoAnn Falletta. The rest of the program will have a Spanish flair, with works by Falla, Granados and Rimsky-Korsakov.

The BPO's Opening Night Gala takes place that evening. Sponsored by the Louis P. Ciminelli Family Foundation, it includes a gourmet dinner and post-concert dessert reception by Oliver's. Proceeds benefit the award-winning educational programs of the orchestra. Tickets may be purchased individually, and table sponsorships are also available. Call (716) 242-7828 for more information.

M&T Bank Classics Series Highlights

The 2016-17 M&T Bank Classics Series gets underway with a two-week Tchaikovsky Festival, featuring his most popular works. Pianist Fabio Bidini performs Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 3 on a program which includes Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and his "Sleeping Beauty" Suite onOct. 1 and 2. On Oct. 15 and 16, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus joins the BPO for a rarely-performed version of the rousing 1812 Overture as well as his Rococo Variations with cellist Mark Kosower, and Serenade for Strings.

Stewart Copeland's career spans the worlds of rock, classical, and film. He is best-known as the drummer for The Police, but has forged a new path as a composer for film, opera, and ballet. Buffalo will be one of the first cities to hear his latest work, "Tyrant's Crush," which received its world premiere in February in Pittsburgh. It will premiere in Buffalo on Oct. 28 and 29.

Composer and conductor Kryzstof Penderecki is the most distinguished figure in Poland's classical music scene. His many honors and awards include a UNESCO Award for his "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima;" The Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest honor; and multiple Grammys. On Dec. 3 and 4, he conducts the BPO in a performance of works by Dvorak and Beethoven as well as his own Concerto for Violin and Cello. Concertmaster Dennis Kim and principal cellist Roman Mekinulov are featured soloists in their first collaboration since Kim was named concertmaster.

To celebrate Mozart's birthday, The Irish Classical Theater Company joins the BPO in three performances of the Peter Shaffer play "Amadeus," on which the film was based. On Jan. 20, 21 and 22, JoAnn Falletta and the BPO will weave the music of Mozart throughout the play, as it explores the contradictions of Mozart's life and the mysteries of his death.

The strong friendship between the United States and Canada has lent a unique flavor to life in Western New York. On Feb. 4 and 5, the BPO celebrates that friendship, and commemorates the 150th anniversary of Canada, with a concert featuring Alain Lefevre. Lefevre is a Canadian pianist, composer, and distinguished national radio host, and is quickly becoming a BPO favorite. He will perform Concerto No. 3, "Concerto de Quebec," by Mathieu, a composer who is considered the Canadian Mozart and whose works Lefevre has championed. The program includes "As Quiet As..." by another Canadian composer, Michael Colgrass, as well as Gerswhin's "An American in Paris" and Copland's "Appalachian Spring."

The venerable organ has been a classical music mainstay for centuries, but it has never had a superstar performer like Cameron Carpenter. He has toured the world with his custom-built, digitally-operated travelling organ, earning a reputation for his virtuosity and splashy persona. Buffalo audiences will experience his performances on March 10 and 11 under the baton of JoAnn Falletta. The program features Poulenc's Organ Concerto and Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony (Symphony No. 3).

Angela Hewitt has emerged as this generation's pre-eminent Bach interpreter. The Canadian-born pianist has garnered critical acclaim for her ten-year recording project of Bach's complete works for keyboard. For a week in March, she is artist-in-residence at Kleinhans. She will perform the complete Goldberg Variations in recital on March 22, and will give a piano masterclass. On March 25 and 26, she joins with the BPO to perform Bach's Piano Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 and in his Piano Concerto in D Major, BWV 1054.

On May 6 and 7, the BPO delves into the world of Wagner's Ring Cycle operas. Orchestral selections from the monumental works combine with powerful narration and images, taking the audience through the epic tale of love, greed, defiance and death that spans both the mortal world and the realm of Norse gods.

There are opportunities throughout the season to hear the works of Ludwig von Beethoven.Violinist Tianwa Yang returns on Nov. 19 and 20 to perform Beethoven's only violin concerto. OnApril 8 and 9, the BPO performs Beethoven's Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral," on a program that also includes Saint-Saens' Violin Concerto No. 3 performed by up and coming violinist Benjamin Beilman. On April 21 and 22, piano sensation Natasha Paremski returns to perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3.

Other Classics series highlights include Classical Christmas led by Stefan Sanders on Dec. 9 and 10; Brahms' Requiem on Feb. 18 and 19 featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus; the United States premiere of a piano concerto reconstructed by Helge Evju from fragments of Edvard Grieg on Nov. 11 and 12 with pianist Carl Petersson; Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 on May 12 and 13; and a full performance of Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast" on June 3 and 4 with Kevin Deas and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.

"I believe that this is our most dramatic season ever, and it also presents the most diverse programs we have offered," said Music Director JoAnn Falletta. "We have a year of magical events that will dazzle our audiences."

Know The Score

Beethoven is also in the spotlight for the BPO's Know The Score presentation on Jan. 26. The orchestra will perform one of the most famous works in all of Western music: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Written as his hearing was beginning to fail, the Fifth has come to be synonymous not only with Beethoven but with classical music overall. Experts from the University at Buffalo's School of Medicine will be on hand to discuss the causes and effects of hearing loss, and explore how it affected the composition of the symphony.

Special performances by Itzhak Perlman and Lehrer Dance

Itzhak Perlman is one of the 20th century's most admired violinists. A native of Israel, his accolades include a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and 14 other Grammys; four Emmy Awards; and most recently, a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He returns to the Buffalo Philharmonic on Feb. 25 for the first time since 2008 to perform music from films such as "Casablanca," "Cinema Paradiso," and "Schindler's List."

The BPO and Lehrer Dance have collaborated several times, and on Feb. 24, will present their most ambitious collaboration yet. "An American Siddartha," inspired by the novel by Hermann Hesse, will feature a score consisting of excerpts from the existing symphonic repertoire, re-imagined in the context of an episodic dance production depicting a man's quest for enlightenment. JoAnn Falletta will conduct, and Jon Lehrer will choreograph the piece. The performance will take place at the UB Center for the Arts, and will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Lehrer Dance.

Keybank Pops Series

During his first season as Principal Pops Conductor, John Morris Russell made a splash in Western New York. The coming season features more opportunities to see him on the podium, and a variety of Pops concerts hand-picked by Russell from today's best acts, highlighting the virtuosity of the orchestra.

Russell launches the Pops Series with the music of today's most prolific and popular composer:John Williams. The concert features music from "Superman," "ET," "Jurassic Park," the Harry Potter series, and the Star Wars series, including music from "The Force Awakens." Darth Vader and several Stormtroopers will take part in the program, and will be available for photo opportunities before the concert and during intermission. Family four-packs will be available for $125 (tickets for two adults and two children under 18).

On Oct. 8, the BPO's own Sal Andolina is in the spotlight with his swing show "Benny and Me." A Western New York native, he has held the position of clarinet/bass clarinet/saxophone with the BPO since 1994. He is also a jazz musician, and enjoyed the rare opportunity to jam informally with swing clarinet great Benny Goodman in New York City many years ago. This show is a tribute to Goodman's music and spirit.

On Oct. 22, Russell introduces New York Voices to Buffalo in "Sweet Sounds of the 70s." The Grammy-award-winning group, whose tight-knit harmonies are much in the style of Manhattan Transfer, will perform music by Queen, Paul Simon, Chicago and other top singer-songwriters of the era. The program also includes a medley of music by The Wrecking Crew, Phil Spector's studio band led by Western New York native Tommy Tedesco.

Classical Mystery Tour joins the BPO to add an orchestral twist to music spanning The Beatles' career on Nov. 5. Top ABBA band Arrival From Sweden has worked with many of the original studio musicians who performed on hits like "Mamma Mia" and "SOS." They make their BPO debut on April 29.

Russell's nickname is "Mr. Christmas," and his Holiday Pops debut impressed audiences with its witty banter and spectacular musical program. At 2016's Holiday Pops, Russell plans a celebration of joy and humanity, with music from "The Snowman," a bell choir, African drummers, and a violin duet. "We're celebrating peace, love and joy and I'd like to make sure every single piece of music on the program exudes it," Russell said. Four performances are slated for Dec. 16, 17 and 18.

Broadway star Lisa Vroman has performed the role of Christine in "Phantom of the Opera" more frequently than any other actress, and has numerous other Broadway, orchestral and operatic credits on her resume. She joins Russell to perform the best love songs from Broadway and the American songbook on Feb. 10 and 11 in A Valentine Romance. Russell also leads The Midtown Men featuring the original cast of the smash Broadway hit "Jersey Boys" on March 31 and April 1. This high-octane musical tour de force presents a joyous journey through the music of the 1960s.

Other series highlights include a tribute to Nat King Cole with Toronto-based vocalist Denzal Sinclaire on March 4; Liz Callaway's tribute to Carole King led by Michael Krajewski on Jan. 28; and "Broadway Comedy Tonight," featuring the Great White Way's funniest music on June 10.

StEve Hackett of Genesis Headlines BPO Rocks

The BPO Rocks series begins Oct. 21 with U2 Symphony Experience. The four members of Walk On Symphony have performed the music of U2 more than 2000 times, and are committed to presenting an inspirational and authentic experience, drawing on all eras of the band's career.

StEve Hackett was the lead guitarist for Genesis during the groundbreaking Phil Collins-Peter Gabriel years. Since departing the band, he's been a key member of the supergroup GTR, worked with Brian May of Queen and Chris Squire of Yes, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He joins the BPO on March 3 for the symphonic debut of Genesis Revisited, as well as many of his own recent hits.

Earlier this year, the world mourned the loss of Prince, and began re-evaluating his legacy. On April 30, Brent Havens, the mastermind behind shows such as "The Music of Led Zeppelin" and "The Music of Pink Floyd," bring his new tribute to the one-of-a-kind icon to Buffalo, featuring Prince's greatest hits and funkiest album tracks.

Cirque Musica's Holiday Spectacular

The BPO offers several holiday concerts each season. This year, Classical Christmas, Holiday Pops and the Jingle Bell Jam will be joined by a new experience for families and music lovers of all ages.

Cirque Musica enchanted and amazed audiences when they performed with the BPO in January 2014, with a show that incorporated circus stunts, classical music, and humor. They return on Dec. 7 with Cirque Musica's Holiday Spectacular, in which audiences journey into a world of high-flying adventure with acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer.

The BPO will once again collaborate with Neglia Ballet Artists and Shea's Performing Arts Center to kick off the holiday season in Western New York with "The Nutcracker" on Nov. 26 and 27. Tickets go on sale Sept. 8 and can be purchased at Shea's Box Office or at

BlueCross BlueShield BPO Kids

Kids take over Kleinhans on six Sunday afternoons for high-quality hands-on fun led by Stefan Sanders. The series gets underway with "Symphonic Spooktacular" on Oct. 23, featuring spooky music and the traditional costume parade across the stage. "Jingle Bell Jam" takes place on Dec. 11, offering holiday fun and a chance to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. The series also includes "Drums Around the World" on Feb. 12; "Peter Rabbit and Other Tales" on March 19; "Super Heroes and Heroines" on April 2; and "BPO Zoo!" on May 14.

Free activities precede each concert at 1:30 PM, including story circles, games, crafts and an Instrument Zoo. Activity partners include Holiday Inn Express, Buffalo Suzuki Strings, Twin Village Music, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Monkey See, Monkey Do...Children's Bookstore, Tutor Doctor, Buffalo Zoo, and Buffalo and Erie County Libraries. Each concert also features the BPO Kids for Exceptional Kids program, which makes the concerts more accessible to children with autism-spectrum disorders. A quiet activity space, noise-cancelling headphones, and special seating are available.

Student tickets available

Any high school or college student with valid ID can purchase a Student Pass for $30, allowing them to attend all concerts in the M&T Bank Classics Series and Keybank Pops Series. Individual tickets are $11 for students and a 50% discount on BPO Rocks concerts.

Subscriptions are still available

A wide variety of concert packages are available ranging from full 12-concert Pops and 18-concert Classics series to five-packs and Flex Passes for those who want to decide which concerts to attend and create their own series. New subscribers save up to 50 percent off the single ticket price.

To subscribe or purchase individual tickets, contact the BPO at (716) 885-5000, visit, or stop by the box office at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.

As Buffalo's cultural ambassador, the Grammy Award-winning Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of music director JoAnn Falletta presents more than 100 concerts each year. Since 1940, the orchestra's home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark with a reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. During the tenure of JoAnn Falletta, the BPO has rekindled its history of radio broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 37 new recordings on the Naxos and Beau Fleuve labels. For more information about the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, visit

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