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Classically Speaking / April showers of music all over town

Seasonal fare includes a new Passion and more

Kristin Chenoweth is performing with the BPO this month.

Photo courtesy of the BPO


A twenty-first century oratorio in the tradition of Bach

Written by American composer Richard Danielpour, The Passion of Yeshua, a contemporary oratorio in the tradition of Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions, is being performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and four soloists. The Passion of Yeshua is presented in both Hebrew and English and re-creates the last twelve hours of Jesus’s life in the context of its Jewish origins. The work was co-commissioned by the SDG Music Foundation, the BPO, and the Oregon Bach Festival, where BPO music director JoAnn Falletta conducted the world premiere in July 2018. SDG stands for soli deo gloria (Latin for glory to God alone); the Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of sacred classical music and commissioning new music from leading composers.

April 13-14, 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle), bpo.org, 885-5000


Khachaturian, Gabrielian, Dvorak, and Smetana

Later in April, the orchestra segues to a twentieth century composition with a performance of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto in D-flat major. Born to an ethnic Armenian family in the former kingdom of Georgia in 1903, the young Aram Khachaturian was influenced by Western composers, especially the impressionistic works of Maurice Ravel. But his later compositions, including the piano concerto, were increasingly infused with inspiration from the Armenian folk music of his heritage as well as the folk traditions of Georgia, Turkey, Russia, and Azerbaijan. Pianist Tanya Gabrielian, who is also an accomplished violist, performs the Khachaturian. At age twenty, Gabrielian achieved international renown by winning both the Scottish International Piano Competition and the Aram Khachaturian International Piano Competition. The concert also includes works by two Czech masters—A Hero’s Song by Antonin Dvorak and From My Life by Bedrich Smetana—and is conducted by former Canadian and current Prague resident Charles Olivieri-Munroe.

April 26-27, 10:30 a.m., 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle), bpo.org, 885-5000


The JSQ, seventy years and counting

The Julliard String Quartet was founded by composer William Schuman at the Julliard School of Music where it has been in residence since 1946. In the course of more than seventy years, the JSQ has established itself as America’s premiere classical string quartet and has been awarded four Grammys and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Quartet began recording in 1949 and its recordings of Bartok’s Six String Quartets and Beethoven’s Late String Quartets are particularly acclaimed. This month, Buffalo Chamber Music Society presents the Julliard String Quartet in a program of Beethoven, Dvorak, and a new work by American composer Lembit Beecher. The Dvorak String Quartet in F major was written while the composer was vacationing in a Czech immigrant village in Iowa in the summer of 1893, which is how it acquired its inevitable nickname, the American Quartet. Meanwhile, soprano Julia Bullock, whom the BCMS presented last October in a Gift to the Community concert, returns to town for a master class and performance at UB’s Lippes Concert Hall. The concert includes songs by Franz Schubert and Samuel Barber, Gabriel Faure, and Spencer Williams as well as music associated with Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.


Caroline Gilbert, principal violist for the BPO, performs at the Unity Church on Delaware


Meet the BPO’s principal violist and tango with Boleo

The Friends of Vienna presents two concerts this month at its longtime venue, the Unity Church on Delaware just south of Gates Circle. On April 7, Caroline Gilbert, who became the principal violist of the BPO in 2017, is featured with accompanying musicians in an afternoon concert commencing at 3:30 p.m. (In the long history of the Julliard String Quartet, there have been only three violists and Caroline Gilbert studied with two of them—Samuel Rhodes and Roger Tapping.) On April 28, longtime Friends of Vienna favorite Moshe Shulman leads the Boleo Quartet in a romp through the music of Hector Villa Lobos and Astor Piazzolla. Which can only mean one thing: it’s tango time. Boleo, in fact, happily plays “music that has a connection to dance.” The quartet features Russian-born Israeli composer Moshe Shulman, viola and bandoneon; BPO principal Antoine Lefebvre, violin; Miranda Shulman, violin; and the amazing Natasha Farny, cello, who made her concert debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at seventeen.


On the lighter side: BPO Pops and BPO Kids

Ask anyone who Kristin Chenoweth is and you’re liable to get any number of answers—Glinda, the Good Witch, in the musical Wicked; Annabeth Schott on NBC’s The West Wing; Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Carlene Cockburn in ABC’s short-lived Good Christian Bitches; Marian the librarian in the TV film version of The Music Man—or any one of her dozens of other roles in film, theater, or television. Chenoweth is a good actress and terrific singer: a classically trained coloratura soprano. She has sung at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera, Sydney Opera House, and London’s Royal Albert Hall and has won both a Tony and an Emmy for her work. On April 6, Chenoweth debuts at Kleinhans in a long-awaited Pops concert with the BPO. The following afternoon, April 7, the orchestra presents its final BPO Kids concert of the season. Kids and parents can travel the world in a program that explores the musical cultures of countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. The concert begins at 2:30 but come at 1:30 to enjoy the free and fun adventures cooked up just for the kids!


See all music listings here.



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