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New Kids and Bad Boys shine in BPO Christmas concert at Kleinhans (repeats tonight at 8)

BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta was in high spirits for the first of two “JoAnn’s Classical Christmas” concerts involving the orchestra, chorus, a soprano soloist whom Falletta has worked with in Richmond, Virginia named Aundi Marie Moore, and a surprise duet, father and son, Roman Mekinulov (the BPO’s principal cellist) and his son, Benjamin, playing the opening allegro to Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G minor. While they played, Feng Hew, the BPO’s Associate Principal, who has been Benjamin’s cello teacher for the past ten years, performed and beamed. It was a moment, and received thundering applause.

Moore, in conversationtold how often when she sings, younger people are surprised at her full operatic voice, which indeed, had “notes” (as they say in wine tastings) of other American sopranos, Renee Fleming and Marian Anderson. Unfortunately, her voice was not always loud enough to fill Kleinhans, and she seemed to end phrases a little quickly, but, hey, it’s nice to have an opera singer at a classical concert.

Falletta, in conversation, was very excited to be back on the podium for the annual concert series and remarked on how the audience helps get her and the orchestra in the holiday spirit. Her remarks from the stage again revealed how important audience involvement is to her.

The percussion and brass  of the BPO were beyond wonderful at this concert.

Growing up in bands and orchestras in high school, it always seemed that it was the “bad boys” who gravitated to percussion and brass. Well, if this is what becomes of that element all grown up, I say would that we all were “bad boys” in school. Wow, the percussion and brass  of the BPO were beyond wonderful at this concert. As to the “new kids?” Recent additions William Amsel (temporary appointment as principal clarinet) and the two “new” oboeists – Henry Ward and Joshua Lauretig, were symbolic of the new energy of the orchestra, one of the few in America on a solid financial footing and ready to play anything.

Kleinhans Music Hall is located at “3 Symphony Circle” Buffalo, 14201 where Porter Avenue, Richmond Avenue, North Street and Wadsworth meet at a traffic circle. Visit or call 716-885-5000. The concert starts at 8:00 p.m. but there’s almost always free entertainment an hour before across the lobby in the Mary Seaton Room.

UP NEXT: BPO KIDS “JINGLE BELL JAM” Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. at Kleinhans with Stefan Sanders conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra along with the Royal Academy of Ballet and the Verve Dance Studio. These one-hour long programs on Sunday afternoons are very kid friendly and, best of all for your little ones, they’ll be among a crowd of their peers.

*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!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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