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BPO Presents Hispanic Heritage Celebration

This Friday evening, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will host its annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration at Kleinhans Music Hall in partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Council. This free event will feature a variety of Latin inspired pieces, as well as salsa dance performers to accompany the music.

“The inspiration for this concert really came from the fact that Kleinhans Music Hall, the BPO’s home venue, is centered within a rich Hispanic neighborhood,” said Patrick O’Herron, BPO Director of Marketing. “We wanted to present something that would speak to and welcome in our neighbors.”

The concert underscores the BPO’s longstanding tradition of connecting with its surrounding community, while also supporting the efforts of its recently formed Diversity Council. “The mission of the council is to ensure we are always representing diversity in our programming, not just by presenting artists and composers of color, but by speaking to the widest-possible audience through all of our varied offerings,” O’Herron said.

The celebration will feature both classical pieces and popular songs from a variety of Hispanic nationalities. The performance will open with the piano suite “Goyescas” by Spanish composer Enrique Granados. It will also feature Granda’s “La Flor de la Canela” and Rafael Hernandez’ “El Cumbanchero.” The evening promises to deliver exciting performances full of vibrant, lush sound. Following the orchestra will be solo performances by El Batey and bomba/plena dance troupe Tamboricua.

“I grew up hearing, singing, and dancing to many of these tunes,” said Janz Castelo, a BPO viola player and resident of the neighborhood, who was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents. Janz’ musical pathway started when he began taking violin lessons in the second grade.

“Growing up in Puerto Rico, music was everywhere. It was a part of daily life,” he said. “At social events, somehow a guitar or cuatro, a güiro, and a pandereta (tambourine) would magically appear and music would fill the room, with friends and strangers alike dancing and singing. This Hispanic Heritage concert is a celebration of the incredibly rich musical tradition that runs through Hispanic culture.”

Castelo is particularly fond of composer Rafael Hernandez and looks forward to the performance of his piece, “El Cumbanchero” at the event. He notes that this popular, lively piece has been covered by several artists, from Tito Puente to Liberace.

Adding another layer of excitement to the evening will be the debut performance of the orchestra’s new assistant conductor, Mr. Todd Craven. Craven performed in orchestras for years as a trumpet player before choosing to pursue the study of conducting about seven years ago. His work took him from Florida to Baltimore, and finally to his new home in Buffalo this past month.

“This past week was my first opportunity to work with the great JoAnn Falletta and that was something I had been looking forward to for a long time,” Craven said. “This coming season I have the opportunity to conduct so many varied programs. It is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time!”

As a former trumpeter, Craven is excited that his first performance will feature some of his Latin favorites. “Besides the exhilaration of performing with the BPO for the first time, is the chance to play this wonderful selection of Latin inspired classical and popular orchestral pieces. These works were some of my favorite things to perform as a trumpet player, and now to get the chance to conduct them is super exciting for me,” he said.

The concert will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall. Admission to the event is completely free with general admission seating, but patrons are encouraged to reserve tickets here. Tickets will also be available at the door. Following the concert, there will be an after-party in the Mary Seaton Room featuring DJ Milk and DJ V3rdgo.

The BPO is kicking off its new season with a variety of performances. See below for some of their other upcoming shows:

Happy Birthday, Gershwin!
Celebrate the original piano man’s 120th birthday with an evening of his music, featuring performances by John Morris Russell, Ray Ushikubo, and Nicole Thomas.
Saturday, September 22, 8:00 p.m.
Kleinhans Music Hall
Tickets: $29-$85

Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto
Hear this powerful, popular concerto performed by pianist Hye-Jin Kim in her debut performance with the BPO, along with Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 and George Tsontakis’ Let the River be Unbroken.
Saturday, September 29, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 30, 2:30 p.m.
Kleinhans Music Hall
Tickets: $29-$85

The Music of Tom Petty
Hear a stellar rock band perform faithful interpretations of Tom Petty’s mega-hits and hidden gems, backed by the full power of the BPO.
Friday, October 5, 8:00 p.m.
Kleinhans Music Hall
Tickets: $39-$75

This content is part of a sponsored series in partnership with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Written by Sarah Maurer

Sarah Maurer

I moved to Buffalo to attend Canisius College in 2007 and began writing for Buffalo Rising as a journalism intern in 2010. Working with Newell and meeting numerous entrepreneurs, activists and everyday folks who were working to make their city better made a huge impact on my decision to stay here. After witnessing all the positive development and grassroots initiatives happening in neighborhoods throughout the city, I was inspired to pursue a term of service in AmeriCorps and a career in Buffalo's non-profit sector. I currently work in the housing department at the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY and am excited to be a part of their ongoing efforts to revitalize the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. I also volunteer as the project coordinator for Artfarms Buffalo. I continue to write for Buffalo Rising because I love having the opportunity to stay connected to those working toward positive changes for the Queen City.

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