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Artists and Musicians from Buffalo and WNY breathe new life into the Historic Kenan Center for its 50th anniversary season

In 1965, William Rand Kenan, Jr., one of the region’s most notable and wealthiest residents of the day, made an offer to the First Presbyterian Church of Lockport of his 25-acre estate for community benefit. Fifty years later, the Kenan Center celebrates this milestone with several special performances, which will take place in the Taylor Theater, a jewel box of venue that has been largely dormant for decades.

The Taylor performances were launched in February, in collaboration with the newly formed Carriage House Players (CHP), with one of Buffalo’s favorite jazz quintets, What Would Mingus Do?, performing  A Tribute to Dexter Gordon. The jazz series continues with Bobby Plays Brubeck & More with the Bobby Militello Quartet on June 23; A Tribute to Harold Arlen with the Buffalo Jazztet on November 4 and Tidings of Comfort & Jazz, December 2.

The CHP is the brainchild of Kathleen Rooney, a seasoned public relations consultant who has a theatre background that includes both on and off-stage experience, and Peg Merrill, a Lockport educator with extensive acting and directing credits.  This weekend, they will present a staged reading of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters, with performances April 21-23rd.  The reading features Rooney and Geoff Koplas, a regional actor who has performed in numerous past productions on the Taylor stage.  A holiday show is also in the works and the Players hope to attract directors and performers from throughout the Western New York region.

This weekend, they will present a staged reading of A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters, with performances April 21-23rd

Also of note, the Kenan House Gallery will present a major exhibit titled, Three Generations of Burchfields: Works from the Schoene Collection, opening April 30, 2017. The first-ever exhibit will feature works by noted American watercolorist, Charles E. Burchfield, his daughters Catherine Burchfield Parker and Martha Burchfield Richter, and granddaughter, Peggy Richter Haug. Guest curator is Buffalo’s, Gerald Mead. The exhibit has special significance as the very first exhibit held in the House Gallery was of Charles Burchfield works from the collection of Charles Rand Penney on April 30, 1966, which was also Mr. Kenan’s birthday.

A second major exhibit will feature images of the Erie Canal in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the canal, which took place on July 4, 1917. The exhibit, Erie Canal ~ Spirit of Structure: Platinum/Palladium Images by Dennis Stierer and Tillman Crane, will open August 13 and run through October 1. Bobby Plays Brubeck & More with the Bobby Militello Quartet, June 23; A Tribute to Harold Arlen with the Buffalo Jazztet, November 4; “Tidings of Comfort & Jazz,” December 2; and a family production for the holidays.

In addition to numerous anniversary events, the Kenan Center presents the 47th annual 100 American Craftsmen show, June 2-4; a six-week KidQuest Summer Youth Program that includes special programs in theater, art, science, and recreation along with family—oriented performances and activities; additional gallery exhibits; art classes for children a Motor Exhibition for cars, trucks and motorcycles in August; soccer and other team sports in the Kenan Arena; and more!

Information on all Kenan Center programs and events is available online at

Photo credit: Niagara Gazette

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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