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    Entries in Buffalo Philharmonic (1)


    Buffalo Phil plays Gliere at Carnegie Hall!

    This performance was a big deal! For me, personally part of it is because I've got some great friends who are playing with the BPO: Acting second oboe Brian Greene (for many years with the Honolulu Symphony), contrabassoonist Martha Malkiewicz (who has an enormous solo at the beginning of the second movement), guest third bassoonist Greg Quick (principal bassoonist of the former Syracuse Symphony) and of course conductor JoAnn Falletta, who has been the artistic advisor to both the old Honolulu Syphony and to the new Hawaii Symphony. Through them I've been hearing (with a bad case of professional jealousy) of the plans to perform and record the Symphony #3 "Ilya Mourmetz" by Gliere: I've been looking forward to this performance for amost a year! The anticipation!!

    This piece is an old favorite of mine. My parents had an old vinyl recording of some Russian orchestra playing the piece, which is a brilliantly orchestrated masterpiece; more like an extended tone poem than a symphony. Totally worth a listen. We literally wore the disk out! (That happened 'back in the day!') Hearing the audio from the performance (embedded below) TOTALLY put me back to being that little tow-headed boy who would sit and stare at the spinning record. quietly listening for hours to all sorts of music. Brahms Symphonies. Handel Organ Concerti! And that exotic & exhaustively long Gliere Symphony, with it's 3-D program music style. A lot of this symphony foreshadow what we hear these days on movie soundtracks. I can still hear my Dad singing the themes at the top of his voice. Dad did love to sing. So many memories! All dredged up with one listening to a piece of music!

    The biggest reason that this event is a big deal to me is that like the HSO, the BPO had suffered decline (but not bankruptcy) for many years. Over the past decade the BPO has, with a lot of effort from it's board, made an amazing comeback. They've made many recordings. They have made many successful efforts to integrate themselves with the local community, so much so that over 1,500 Buffalonians (Buffalorons?) made the trek to hear the orchestra live at Carnegie Hall, and rewarded them with an extended ovation at the end! Bravo!!!

    If Buffalo can make a comeback, so can Hawaii. I just hope Hawaii's turn comes before I retire!

    Here's the actual performance:

    Here's JoAnne discussing the program:

    And here's links to some press coverage:


    NEW YORK TIMES (article pasted below for those who encounter the paywall):

    Any politician or public figure who ever cited elitism as a reason to brush off supporting the local orchestra would have done well to attend a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night. The event was part of Spring for Music, a laudable series that has brought some of America’s most ambitious regional orchestras to New York City with their most inventive programs.

    The Buffalo ensemble, founded in 1934 and previously led by luminaries like Michael Tilson Thomas, Julius Rudel and Lukas Foss, came this year with a program suited to any concert-music connoisseur. JoAnn Falletta, the orchestra’s music director since 1999, paired two works that showed contrasting facets of life and art in the Soviet Union: “Morning Prayers,” by the contemporary Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, and the Russian composer Reinhold Glière’s Symphony No. 3 (“Ilya Muromets”).

    Hardly light fare. Yet more than 1,500 ticket buyers made the trek down from Buffalo to attend Wednesday’s concert, setting a record for hometown support, the WQXR radio host Elliott Forrest announced from the stage. The auditorium rang with whoops and shouts as the orchestra took the stage, audience members twirling green banners that matched the ties and sashes the musicians wore.

    Ms. Falletta, interviewed onstage before the concert, referred to a mysticism she perceived in the chosen works. A more overt term might be spirituality, even faith. “Morning Prayers,” composed in 1990 as part of the cycle “Life Without Christmas,” speaks to absence and stricture, incorporating a boy soprano’s disembodied voice on tape alongside strings, alto flute, piano and bass guitar.

    Saturated with the crepuscular wariness heard in most of Mr. Kancheli’s mature music, if fewer of his characteristic sharp dynamic outbursts, “Morning Prayers” attests to religious ache just a year before the Soviet Union ended. Yet the piece also offers respite, its tritone-induced friction finally resolving into unambiguous succor.

    The Russian church is felt in Glière’s symphony, too, its hearty chorales and sober chants two elements among many in a grand work representing events in the life of a medieval Russian knight and folk hero. Composed in 1911, the more than 70-minute work weds Tchaikovskian evocation to Mahlerian girth. A program note by Ms. Falletta explained that she conceived the orchestra’s entire 2012-13 season around the symphony, which the orchestra is recording for the Naxos label.

    Given the work’s expanse, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture for all the details therein. Here, only the Andante meandered, just occasionally. On the whole, Ms. Falletta provided clear shape and trajectory. With Glière’s family listening in Moscow via the WQXR Web page (at, the Buffalo players performed alertly and eloquently, offering an account to savor.