Classically Speaking / From Bach to Shostakovich and beyond
Autumn delights from the BPO and Musical Feast
Charles Haupt, former BPO concertmaster and leader of Musical Feast
Photo by David Moog
In 2006, former BPO concertmaster Charles Haupt and his wife, photographer Irene Haupt, initiated a series of annual concerts called A Musical Feast. For the first three years, the concerts were held at Kavinoky Theater at D’Youville College, where often the performers found themselves surrounded by the scenery of the theater’s current play. In 2009, the ensemble moved its concerts to the Tower Auditorium at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. “I formed this series after I retired from the orchestra to highlight the area musicians and to give myself another opportunity to keep playing,” says Charles. “I also wanted to close the gap between new music and old music. Those audiences are very different, but we developed our own loyal audience and concerts were often standing-room-only. They were also free back then, thanks to a grant from M&T Bank. We have always had wonderful players available to us, both locally and from around the country. They come back to play with us every year and they’re happy to be part of it.”
On October 4 at the Burchfield Penney, A Musical Feast presents (as of this writing) Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in G Minor, featuring Diane Hunger on tenor saxophone and pianist Father Sean Duggan. Duggan is also performing the Bach Partita No. 5 in G Major.
Among the many horrors of the Holocaust, the murder of nearly 15,000 children who were held at the Theresienstadt Ghetto in German-occupied Czech territory continues to resonate through the legacy of the poems and artwork created by the children before they died. After World War II, the poems and pictures were published by Czech historian Hana Volavkova in a book entitled I Never Saw Another Butterfly. It is also the title of a song cycle by Lori Laitman scheduled on the Musical Feast program and performed by soprano Tiffany DuMouchelle and alto saxophonist Wildy Zumwalt. The lyrics to each of the five songs were derived from the texts of poems written by several children at the concentration camp. The program concludes with the Suite for Solo Cello by the Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassado, performed by cellist Feng Hew. Musical Feast programs continue throughout the season with concerts at the Montante Center and Westminster Presbyterian Church. “Although we can’t use it,” says Charles Haupt, “it might now be more appropriate to call it Movable Feast.” For up-to-date details on the program, call the Burchfield at 878-6011.
A Canadian violin wizard
The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra begins the month with concerts featuring two celebrated young violinists. On October 5 and 6, Canadian virtuoso James Ehnes makes his BPO debut performing the Korngold Violin Concerto. In 2008, Ehnes won both the Grammy and Juno awards for his recording of the Korngold, Barber, and Walton violin concertos. Erich Wolfgang Korngold composed his violin concerto in 1945 and, while not embraced by critics, it was, with its romantic lyricism and demand for technical virtuosity, an immediate hit with concertgoers. Like fellow Austrian Max Steiner, Korngold created classical compositions at an early age and scored Hollywood motion pictures after moving to America. Each of the concerto’s three movements contains quotes from one or more of the themes of Korngold’s film scores. Korngold was born in Vienna in 1897 and, until his death in 1957, was recognized as one of the few serious classical composers to write for both the concert hall and for movies. The concert also includes performances of “Invitation to the Dance” written by Carl Maria von Weber and transcribed for orchestra by Hector Berlioz; the Dvorak Symphony No. 8; and the award-winning composer and SUNY Distinguished Professor David Felder’s die Dammerungen, also presented by the orchestra at last spring’s June in Buffalo.
Sandy Cameron will play the Elfman’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra with the BPO.
Photo by Megan Wintory
A concerto by a movie maestro
Two weeks later (October 18 & 19), the movie theme continues at Kleinhans when violinist Sandy Cameron joins the BPO to perform Danny Elfman’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra: Eleven Eleven. A prolific film score composer, Elfman wrote this concerto to be both technically challenging for the concert hall and emotionally exciting for movie buffs. Last year, JoAnn Falletta led the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Cameron in a performance of the concerto to great critical acclaim. Virtuoso violinist Sandy Cameron owns this piece: she played the world premiere of the Elfman Concerto with the Czech National Symphony at the Prague Proms International Festival in 2017 and performed the first recording of the work with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Also on the bill are two iconic compositions by Richard Strauss: Death and Transfiguration, and “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Salome, Strauss’s opera based on the play by Oscar Wilde.