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Classical musical concerts can add class to your Holidays

Almost every church in Buffalo offers a special Christmas eve service, with additional music and singing. But before then there are several special holiday programs that are open to the general public. Here’s a partial chronological list:

DECEMBER 11: THE BUFFALO NIAGARA CONCERT BAND

The Buffalo Niagara Concert Band, Amy J. Steiner, conductor, offers a unique sound for the season with their Holiday Concert.  A concert band, if you’re curious, uses many of the same instruments as a marching band, but with two string basses to round out the sound, it tends to concentrate more on classical music and arrangements of the classics. All are welcome at the concert to be held at the Fatima Shrine in Lewiston (technically 1023 Swann Rd. Youngstown NY 14174) on Wednesday December 11 from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Admission is free and goodwill donations are always accepted.

DECEMBER 11: THE BPO PRESENTS “HOME ALONE”

On Wednesday evening, December 11th, the Buffalo Philharmonic also offers something different. They will screen the holiday movie “Home Alone” with all the dialog on screen, but with the musical score by John Williams provided live as the BPO is conducted by Ron Spigelman in sync with the film on the big screen. They’ve done this before, and it’s quite a feat and a treat. This family-friendly holiday classic, with sound enhanced by the BPO, will be at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY 1420. Tickets range from $39 to $75. Call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org. 7pm start time.

DECEMBER 12: ST. LOUIS CHOIR at BLESSED SACRAMENT

The Choir of St. Louis Church, known for repertoire that covers nine centuries of sacred music and nearly every style of western composition, will be conducted by their music director, the universally revered Frank Scinta in an Advent Concert on Thursday, December 12th at 7:30 pm. The choir will sing the Advent and Christmas works of Bach, Forrest, Ord, Poston, Willcocks, Wood and others Note: it’s not at St. Louis this time, but in Blessed Sacrament Church, 1025 Delaware Avenue (near Utica Street) in Buffalo. The concert is free and all are welcome to enjoy music of the season.

DECEMBER 12: NICKEL CITY OPERA “MOON & STARS”

Nickel City Opera will present a concert called “The Moon and The Stars at The Saturn Club,” described by the presenters as “an evening of planetary alignments and grand omens – an inspiring musical interlude to contemplate and meditate as (opera) singers and accompaniment lift you up, along with a generous table of sustenance and an open bar of liquid spirits.” And, it’s a chance to see the insides of one of Buffalo’s private clubs. Open to the public (tickets required) “The Moon and The Stars at The Saturn Club” is Thursday, December 12th, at 7pm at The Saturn Club 977 Delaware Avenue (near Utica) in Buffalo. Tickets are $23 at nickelcityopera.org.

DECEMBER 13-15: O’CONNELL & COMPANY

O’Connell & Co presents this year’s “Very Diva Christmas” created and written by Mary Kate O’Connell, described by the producer as a way of “celebrating the joys, traditions, carols, songs, stories, folk tales and magic of the Holiday Season… the Buffalo Traditions of the Holidays … AM&A’s Downtown Christmas Windows, Hengerers Santa, 998 Broadway adventures, caroling, sharing the light of the festive Chanukah candles, cookie swaps and so much more!” Friday and Saturday, December 13 and 14 at 7:30, Sunday, December 15 at 2:30 at O’Connell & Company’s new location in The Ken-Ton Elmwood Commons, 3200 Elmwood Avenue, Kenmore, NY 14217. For tickets at information, call 848-0800 or visit oconnellandcompany.com or write to info@oconnellandcompany.com

DECEMBER 13 AND 14: BPO JOANN’S CLASSICAL CHRISTMAS

An annual holiday favorite, Maestro JoAnn Falletta, the BPO, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus celebrate the season with classical treasures from the centuries. The Friday morning, December 13 concert at 10:30 am begins with complimentary coffee and doughnuts (one of several so-called “coffee concerts” held on various Friday mornings throughout the season). Come see Kleinhans all decorated for the holidays. The concert repeats, sans doughnuts, but with pre-concert entertainment starting around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, at 8:00 pm. Kleinhans Music Hall is located at 3 Symphony Circle (where Richmond, Porter, North, and Wadsworth converge) in Buffalo, NY 14201. For tickets and information call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org.

DECEMBER 14 AT 1PM: BPO’S GOLD DOME HOLIDAY CONCERT

The BPO invites everyone to “celebrate the holidays with a special free and open-to-the-public performance as your BPO fills the glorious M&T Bank Gold Dome with the familiar sounds of holiday classics!” It’s free, at 1:00 pm, but the bank lobby fills up quickly, so early arrival is suggested at M&T Bank, 1 Fountain Plaza, Main at Genessee Streets in downtown Buffalo. For information call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org.

DECEMBER 14: HARMONIA CHAMBER SINGERS

The Harmonia Chamber Singers (the ones selected to back up The Rolling Stones at their last WNY concert) celebrate the magic of the season with Advent and Christmas carols featuring music of classical composers Poulenc, Victoria, Tallis, Praetorius, Burt, Biebl, Stopford, Rutter, and Gibbs, plus popular carols concerning Rudolph, Frosty, Santa, and there’s an audience sing-along, all led by former Metropolitan Opera conductor Robert Duerr. Harmonia offers three opportunities in three different parts of town. The first weekend there’s a pair of concerts Saturday, December 14, 7:30pm, at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, 129 Laverack Avenue in Lancaster and then Sunday, December 15, at 4 pm at Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, 5480 Main Street in the heart of Williamsville. Next weekend, Saturday, December 21, at 7:30 pm, that concert is at St. Joseph University Church, 3269 Main Street (near UB) in Buffalo. Advance tickets ($15 online at www.harmoniacs.org) are strongly suggested. Tickets will also be available at the door, beginning one hour before each concert. Student tickets are $10. For more information on “Christmas With Harmonia” visit www.Harmoniacs.org.

DECEMBER 15: BPO KID’S CONCERT – JINGLE BELL JAM

Billed as “a family tradition including favorite holiday stories past and present, with music from Home Alone, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, plus Santa helps conduct and leads the holiday sing-a-long. The Jingle Bell Jam, a young person’s concert, is December 15 at 2:30 pm, at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, 14201. At the pre-concert everyone can make cards for our friends in the military with help from the U.S. Marine Corps. For tickets ($14 to $24) and information call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org

DECEMBER 15: THE CAMERATA AT ST. ANTHONY’S

The Camerata di Sant’Antonio’s concert “Let your hearts be light. Music to Celebrate the Season” has been moved to Sunday, December 15. Described as “Buffalo’s Premier Chamber Orchestra” they will feature Vivaldi’s Concerto in A for Viola d’amore performed by Donna Lorenzo (I Soloisti Veneti), and the U.S. premiere of Odermatt’s virtuosic Capriccio a Due for Oboe & Trumpet with Paul Schlossman, oboe, and special guest Sycil Mathai on trumpet. Also on the program is the gorgeous Serenade for Strings by Polish composer Mieczysław Karłowicz. Special guest, soprano Colleen Marcello, will be singing Morton Lauridsen’s beautiful “O Magnum Mysterium.” This classical concert is Sunday, December 15th at 7:00 pm at St. Anthony of Padua Church, 160 Court Street (corner South Elmwood) behind Buffalo’s City Hall. The church is quite stunning inside and you will feel as if you’ve been transported to Italy. There’s plenty of off-street parking with a “Christmas Champagne Reception” to follow. Tickets are $20 at the door or by subscription. Free admission for ages 17 and under. For information visit facebook.com/CamerataSantAntonio.

DECEMBER 19-22: BPO HOLIDAY POPS (four concerts)

Described as “Mr. Christmas” BPO Principal Pops Conductor John Morris Russell (who may personally own the world’s largest library of Christmas recordings ever collected) returns to Buffalo for a four-day, four-concert series – “John Morris Russell’s Holiday Pops” – starting with back to back morning concerts: Thursday December 19 at 10:30 am and also Friday December 20 also at 10:30 am. The next concert is Saturday, December 21  at 8:00 pm and the series concludes on Sunday, December 22 @ 2:30 pm. All concerts will be at Kleinhans Music Hall which is located at 3 Symphony Circle (where Richmond, Porter, North, and Wadsworth converge) in Buffalo, NY 14201. For tickets and information call 885-5000 or visit bpo.org.

DECEMBER 20: CHRISTMAS AT WESTMINSTER

Music Director Garrett Martin invites everyone of any faith, or none at all, to enjoy “Christmas at Westminster” on Friday, December 20 starting at 7:30 pm. Hear the Aeolian-Skinner Organ’s nearly 5,200 pipes along with the choruses of Westminster Presbyterian Church described as an “open and progressive community … welcoming to all, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, gender identity, citizenship status, or religious affiliation.” The church is located at 724 Delaware Avenue (near Summer) in Buffalo. The concert is free. For infromation, call 884-9437 or visit wpcbuffalo.org.

DECEMBER 22: ST. LOUIS CHOIR

The Choir of St. Louis Church will be back on “home base” for Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 22nd at 6:00 pm in the architechturally stunning St. Louis Church, Main and Edward Streets, the first Catholic church built in Buffalo. Featured will be carols and anthems of Mendelssohn, Ord, Wood, Forrest, and others. All are invited to attend this annual event. The service of Lessons and Carols traces, in scripture and song, the Nativity story as foretold by the Old Testament prophets and narrated by the Gospel writers. Begun in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge University, nearly a century ago, the service of Lessons and Carols is repeated in churches of nearly every denomination worldwide. St. Louis Church, with its famous steeple, is at 35 Edward Street (corner of Main), Buffalo 14202. Parking is accessible off Franklin Street. For information call 852-6040 or visit stlouisrcchurch.org.

Lead image: Camerata di Sant’Antonio from 2010

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, 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?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

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 has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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