Okay, so maybe Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms aren’t exactly your thing. But could be that you’ve wondered what goes on over at Kleinhans Music Hall. And you’ve got a tiny fear of missing out on something that’s distinctly “Buffalo.” But buying a four-glass flight of Resurgence ($8) is one level of dipping your toe in the Niagara and buying a $29 ticket for a two-hour concert ($11 students) is something else.
So, which classical concert should you pick? Gotcha covered. It’s the one this Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. called “Gershwin’s Rhapsody” and talk about four “flights” – you get four musical experiences by four great American composers all conducted by JoAnn Falletta. It’s fun, it’s fast, and there’s a hot young pianist on stage to add to the excitement.
Usually with Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms you get two trumpets, maybe three. This Sunday you get six.
Usually with Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms you get two trumpets, maybe three. This Sunday you get six. Most days the orchestra has three trombones. Try five. Five French horns and one tuba and you’ve got a really big brassy sound. Oh, by the way, sit in the balcony (Row O is the cheapest) so you can see what’s happening on stage, including four drummers running around behind the orchestra playing a huge collection of noisemakers.
The first work is a non-stop energy drink (think two cans of Red Bull) written by John Adams in what they call “minimalism” not because the piece is short (it is) but because all the fluff is removed until you get down to the absolute minimum and you just repeat that. Maybe you’ve heard of other minimalist composers – Philip Glass (which the BPO plays next weekend), Steve Reich (whose music they just played out at UB) or Terry Riley so you know that you can’t fight this music, you just have to let it take you over. And it will.
Most piano concertos are big, long affairs in three parts, but when you smoosh those three parts into one 17-minute classical-jazz mashup, you get George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with a hot young pianist named Charlie Albright.
Most piano concertos are big, long affairs in three parts, but when you smoosh those three parts into one 17-minute classical-jazz mashup, you get George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with a hot young pianist named Charlie Albright. Check him out on Youtube.
Then, it’s like a trip to one of those lounge scenes in a 1940’s black and white Bogart-Bacall movie when Albright comes back on stage in white jacket, black slacks, in front of the jet-black Steinway, to channel the master of cool – Edward “Duke” Ellington – in something new for Buffalo – “New World A-Comin’.”
And the last work you’ve probably only heard on the radio or maybe when you were a kid on a school bus trip to Kleinhans. It’s by American composer (and orchestrator of that “Rhapsody in Blue”) Ferde Grofe [say “FUR-dee grow-FAY”] called the “Grand Canyon Suite” and in five parts it takes you on a trip down the Grand Canyon. I swear, even if you think you know this piece, you’ll hear stuff you have NEVER heard before.
By the way, if you’re already a BPO “insider” you’ll get a treat out of percussionist Mark Hodges playing traps on Duke Ellington’s “New World A-Comin’;” along with trumpeter Jeff Hardcastle and trombonist Jonathan Lombardo playing dueling wah-wahs; the BPO’s new clarinetist William Amsell trading hot licks with veteran jazz man Sal Andolina on bass clarinet; and #1 fiddler Dennis Kim leading the pack train in the “Grand Canyon Suite.”
Kleinhans Music Hall is located at “3 Symphony Circle” where Porter Avenue, Richmond Avenue, and North Street meet at a traffic circle. Visit www.bpo.org or call 716-885-5000. The concert starts at 2:00 p.m. but there’s always a “Musically Speaking” event an hour before if you want to learn more about the concert, the soloist, or the music.
Next up with the BPO at Kleinhans, Stefan Sanders conducts a “Know the Score” series concert “Celebrating 100 Years of Jazz with the Colored Musicians Club” with the BPO and also with the “George Scott Big Band.” Tickets range from $10 to $49.
Then, next Saturday and Sunday, JoAnn Falletta returns to the main stage with the BPO for a concert called “Copland’s Fanfare” with music by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Philip Glass (The Violin Concerto featuring Dennis Kim). That’s Saturday, October 7 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 8 at 2:30.
And, believe it or not, Bill Murray is coming for a special one-night only engagement with three classical musicians, and that’s Wednesday, October 11 at 8:00 p.m.
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (e.g. you are the parent of someone who is performing), give this concert a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the performance is pretty far off base, or the music itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to hear live music, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good music making. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the performance and the music are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!