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Five spirited classical “chamber” music programs – what was, what is, and what is yet to be

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off their new season a few weeks with their Music Director, JoAnn Falletta, inviting not one, but two soloists to perform and this weekend (Saturday night, October 5 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, October 6 at 2:30 p.m.) again at Kleinhans Music Hall, she’s invited another stellar violinist from, as it turns out, “next door,” the Canadian superstar, James Ehnes to play the melodic Violin Concerto by a composer who lived in two worlds – European classical music and Hollywood movie music – Erich Wolfgang Korngold. So, if you want a big, lush sound, Kleinhans is the place to be this weekend. For details, visit

But many enjoy the more intimate sound of what is known as “chamber music” with one player to a part, and often, in Buffalo, those players have a “day job,” playing in the BPO. That was the case last week with an exciting program featuring the Buffalo Chamber Players in the smaller venue, the “Mary Seaton Room” at Kleinhans, which was previewed here.

And the BCP will be back next month with a program called “Émigrés” on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, a concert exploring composers who created music away from their homes, with works by Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Tansman, and special guest composer, the Armenian-American Mary Kouyoumdjian.

The Buffalo Chamber Players always make an effort to include performances of works by women and performances featuring women.

And so do the “Friends of Vienna” whose first concert was packed-to-capacity as folks crowded in to hear a performance by Cellist Natasha Farny joined by her colleague, pianist Eliran Avni, both from the Fredonia School of Music. Ms. Farny, as always, played with impeccable intonation, tone, phrasing coupled with her (and Mr. Avni’s) great sense of humor.

And the women composers/women performers momentum with the Friends of Vienna will continue on Sunday, October 13 when Pianist Susan Yondt from the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm, Sweden presents a program devoted to the music of Clara Schumann. Clara Schumann was a super-woman of the 19th century, one of a handful of stunning piano virtuosos (in an era of flashy performers) who also raised a large family with her husband, Robert Schumann, and served as musical mentor to some of the greats (including Brahms) and also managed to find time to compose music. That music will be heard starting at 3:30 p.m. on October 13 at the Friend’s usual venue, 1243 Delaware Avenue (near Gates Circle).

So there are the “Buffalo Chamber Players” in their “new” home at Kleinhans, the “Friends of Vienna” at their regular home in the Unity Church at 1243 Delaware, and there’s also the series called “A Musical Feast” which is held in the beautiful auditorium inside the Burchfield-Penney Museum, on the Buff State campus, (across Elmwood from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery).

This Friday evening, October 4, the Musical Feast will include Bach’s Partita No. 5 in G major BWV 829 a work for solo keyboard to be played by Bach expert, Father Sean Duggan. Then there will be contemporary songs sung by Tiffany DuMouchelle accompanied by Wildy Zumwalt on alto saxophone, a 20th century “Suite for solo cello” composed in 1926 by Gaspar Cassado, performed by Feng Hew (of both the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Buffalo Chamber Players), with the program concluding with another work by Bach performed by another saxophone player, Diane Hunger (on tenor saxophone) with Father Sean Duggan at the piano.

These three chamber music series will continue into the fall and next spring as well. They are, as are so many classical music concerts in Buffalo, surprisingly affordable (especially when compared to concerts in Cleveland, Toronto, or New York) and worth checking out. And, we haven’t even mentioned the series of concerts at UB’s Slee Concert Hall which begin with the annual Slee Beethoven String Quartet Cycle this Friday and Saturday, or The Buffalo Chamber Music Society which already started their free “Gift to the Community Series” and will have their first regular concert on October 29.

Lots to hear.

Lead image: BPO cellist Feng Hew to play music by Casals protégé Gaspar Cassadó at ”Musical Feast” this Friday at Burchfield-Penney. Photo by Caroline Mallonée.

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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