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The BPO’s Favorite Things for the Holidays

With the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra kicking off its annual holiday season, there are plenty of festive performances on the schedule this month. Many of us have a favorite holiday tune or tradition we look forward to each year.

We decided it was time to meet some of the people behind the music at the BPO and learn more about their favorite holiday traditions. 

Amelie Fradette, Cello

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

Sharing the holiday spirit with our audience. It’s a great feeling from the stage to see everyone in the hall smiling, singing and having a wonderful time.

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

Maybe because I’m from Québec, but “White Christmas” has always been my favorite.

Do you have musical traditions with your family during the holidays?

We like to listen to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong or Frank Sinatra while decorating our Christmas tree. Also, our 5 year old comes to the BPO family concert, Jingle Bell Jam, every year. It’s always a hit!

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

“The Rite of Spring”by Igor Stravinsky

 

Tim Smith, Trombone

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

I like to come in through the Box Office entrance rather than the Stage Door. There is an energy — a “buzz”— in the people mingling, knowing they are in for something special. Be it first-time attendees or life-long patrons, the excitement really is infectious!

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

“Walking in the Air” from Howard Blake’s The Snowman is hauntingly gorgeous.

Do you have musical traditions with your family during the holidays?

As with many families, we like our movies. My wife and I are suckers for the old Hollywood song and dance flicks. With two young children and no local family, it is fun to establish our own traditions — like having a big party on Christmas Eve.

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

I would love to revisit Bartok’s Miraculous Mandarin.

 

Joshua Lauretig, Oboe

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

It’s a lot of fun to go to places we’d otherwise not perform and see the crowds that turn out – the M&T bank lobby, for example.

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

I’m a sucker for “White Christmas.”

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season

Respighi’s Belkis’ “Queen of Sheba.”

 

Martha Malkiewicz, Bassoon

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

It is always exciting to be a part of the holiday celebration. Every place we perform is decorated so beautifully, and even the audience comes decked out!

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

It is hard to choose just one. I will start with the modal sound of the Ukrainian “Carol of the Bells,” but also must add Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols” for boys’ choir and harp.

Do you have musical traditions with your family during the holidays?

In our home, we enjoy listening to Kołedy, Polish religious hymns celebrating the Nativity. We also like to find a service of Lessons and Carols to attend.

Outside of the BPO and Kleinhans, do you have favorite traditions of the holiday season in the city of Buffalo?

I love to go ice skating in downtown Buffalo, especially after playing our Christmas Concert at the M&T Goldome Bank. Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza is right across the street!

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

Having been in the orchestra for 35 years, I have had the good fortune to perform every piece I have ever wanted to perform. So, I look forward to all of the new compositions that the orchestra will perform. I can hardly wait for the music being composed now!

 

Jonathan Borden, Bass

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

My favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season is the collaborations between the BPO and local area youth arts groups. We do some dances from The Nutcracker with ballet students, and sing alongs with choral students. Seeing their enthusiasm reminds me why I love performing.

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” I think, is my favorite holiday piece. It’s well orchestrated, catchy, and effective.

Do you have musical traditions with your family during the holidays?

My extended family sometimes puts on a recital. I’m the only professional orchestral musician in my family, but many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins use our Christmas gathering as a way to keep up their singing skills and share their favorite music with the rest of the family.

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

I think the top of my musical wish list has to be Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben. It’s a seminal work in the repertoire, and I think it hasn’t been performed in Kleinhans for several years. For most instrumentalists, it’s one of the most difficult pieces out there, and is on any audition you’ll take. So I know every note of that piece, but haven’t been able to perform it yet! Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

Hee Sagong, Violin

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

Without hesitation, The Nutcracker. I would be happy to play it any time of the year.

Do you have musical traditions with your family during the holidays?

When I lived with my parents in the Netherlands, my mom would play all kinds of Christmas CDs every morning for the entire month of December. Sometimes it would last until mid-January. I love Christmas music, but it gets a little old when you keep hearing it!

Outside of the BPO and Kleinhans, do you have favorite traditions of the holiday season in the city of Buffalo?

I love going down to Canalside and watching people skate on the ice rink. I don’t dare skate myself! Ok, maybe I will try it this year…

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

This is only my third year in the orchestra, and so far I am enjoying all the new repertoire that I have not played before. However, if I had to make a wish list, I would love to play Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. I love playing that piece!

 

Henry Ward, Oboe

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

All the concerts the BPO performs during the holiday season are great, but I especially enjoy playing for special needs kids in our Exceptional Kids holiday concerts and at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. We have an incredibly appreciative audience in Buffalo, and we see that so much from these kids when we bring them holiday cheer through music.

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece?

This is a biased answer as it showcases the woodwind section of the orchestra, particularly the oboe and bassoon, but the Adoration of the Magi from Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano is one of my favorite holiday pieces to play. This piece depicts Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli’s famous nativity scene, and includes the famous Christmas hymn, “Veni Emmanuel”.  (The BPO is playing this and more in JoAnn’s Classical Christmas on Friday, December 7th at 10:30am and Saturday, December 8th at 8 p.m.)

Do you have musical traditions with your family during the holidays?

I will always treasure the memories I have of my grandmother and I playing Christmas duets on the piano, or me on oboe and her on piano.

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

In my three seasons here so far, we have performed a lot from my wish list! A piece I would love to perform would be Mussorgsky’s Prelude to Khovanshchina, which is a little not well known gem in the orchestra repertoire that Mussorgsky titled “Dawn on the Moskva River”.

 

Dinesh Joseph, Percussion

What is your favorite part of performing with the BPO during the holiday season?

Our annual concert at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf is always my favorite holiday show.

What is your favorite carol, holiday tune or holiday piece? 

Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride is a solid holiday number. Always fun to play. I also love the Carmen Dragon orchestrations of classic Christmas carols.

Outside of the BPO and Kleinhans, do you have favorite traditions of the holiday season in the city of Buffalo?

We always take our kids ice skating downtown.

What’s on your musical wish list? Name one piece you’d like to perform with the BPO on a future season.

Messiaen’s du Canyon aux Etoiles.

See below for some of the BPO’s upcoming holiday performances:

Hilbert College Holiday Concert

Todd Craven leads this concert in the William Swan Auditorium at Hilbert College

Tuesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m.

Hilbert College, 5200 South Park Avenue, Hamburg

Tickets: $40

JoAnn’s Classical Christmas

Celebrate the season with centuries of classical treasures.

Friday, December 7, 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, December 8, 8:00 p.m.

Kleinhans Music Hall

Tickets: $36-$87

Holiday Music Under the Dome

Todd Craven conducts this traditional free concert in one of the prettiest banks in Buffalo: the historic Beaux Arts gold-domed M&T Bank.

Saturday, December 8, 1:00 p.m.

M&T Bank, 1 Fountain Plaza

Free admission

Jingle Bell Jam

Sing along with the orchestra, enjoy cookies and milk with Santa, and get in the holiday spirit with your whole family.

Sunday, December 9, 2:30 p.m.

Kleinhans Music Hall

Tickets: $14-$24

John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops

Mr. Christmas will bring together a magical program featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus to put you in the holiday spirit.

Thursday, December 13, 10:30 a.m.

Friday, December 14, 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, December 15, 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 16, 2:30 p.m.

Kleinhans Music Hall

Tickets: $36-$87

The Nutcracker Ballet

Neglia Ballet Artists brings the splendor of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet to Shea’s beautiful stage in collaboration with the BPO.

Saturday, December 22, 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 23, 2:00 p.m.

Shea’s Performing Arts Center, 646 Main Street

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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