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Buffalo Philharmonic Opening Night Gala

Filed under: Music

AV classical music correspondent Jan Jezioro sends us this heads-up on the kickoff to the BPO’s new season:

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra opens its 2009-2010 season this Saturday, October 3 at 8pm in Kleinhans Music Hall with a gala concert event. The evening is being billed, appropriately enough, as the “Ode to Joy,” since the centerpiece will be a performance of Beethoven’s mighty Symphony No.9, with the BPO and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and vocal soloists under the baton of BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta. Many BPO music directors in the past have concluded a season with a performance of Beethoven’s final symphony, but only one other music director, Semyon Bychkov, has ever opened a season with this work, and that was only once. This will be the second time that Falletta has programmed Beethoven’s incomparable Ninth Symphony on opening night. Every performance of the Ninth Symphony is a special event, given the deeply felt magnificence of the music and the massive performing forces involved, and it is a rare audience member who will not remember the occasion for many years to come.


Gil Shaham

The first half of Saturday’s concert will feature as guest soloists violinist Gil Shaham and his wife, violinist Adele Anthony. Shaham will perform the 1883 Carmen Fantasy by Pablo de Sarasate. Amazingly enough, this will be the BPO classic series premiere performance of the work based on themes from Georges Bizet’s Carmen, one of the most popular and often performed works in the entire operatic repertory. The Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908) was one of the very greatest nineteenth century violin virtuosos. The playwright and music critic George Bernard Shaw once remarked that while there were many composers of music for the violin, there were few, genuine composers of violin music. Shaw felt that de Sarasate was one of these composers, and that he “left criticism gasping miles behind him.” Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony will also team up for a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor. One of Bach’s most performed works, the double violin concerto is a genuine masterpiece of late Baroque music. The expressive relationship between the two violins is subtly developed through the fugal writing and the extensive use of counterpoint. The intimacy of that expressive relationship can only be enhanced when the two performers are husband and wife, as are Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony.

Internationally recognized as one of today’s most virtuosic and engaging violinists, Shaham has long been a favorite of Buffalo classical music audiences. Shaham has performed here often, both as a soloist with the BPO and in Buffalo Chamber Music Society events, where he has also appeared, sometimes with his equally talented sister, pianist Orli Shaham, who has herself performed with the BPO. Gil has recently appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, New World Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and Dallas Symphony orchestras, and outside the USA with the leading orchestras of Rome, Florence, Birmingham, Prague, Paris and London. Shaham, who plays the 1699 “Countess Polignac” Stradivarius, has recorded more than two dozen best-selling concerto and solo CD’s, and is a multiple Grammy winner: in 2004 he founded Canary Classics, his own record label, featuring distinguished artists such as the pianist Yefim Bronfman, cellist Truls Mørk, and the conductor David Zinman.

Adele Anthony

Adele Anthony

Originally from the island of Tasmania, the Australian violinist Adele Anthony began playing the violin before the age of three. A winner of many violin competitions in her native Australia, Anthony also is a winner of the 1992 Aspen Music Festival Walton Competition and was First Prize winner of Denmark’s 1996 Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition. Besides pursuing her own career as a soloist with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, Anthony has had several performances released on the Naxos label. Anthony, who performs on an Antonio Stradivarius violin, crafted in 1728, also appears often, both in concert and on recordings with her husband Gil Shaham. The couple and their two children currently reside in New York City.

Limited tickets for the concert are still available. Please call the BPO box office at (716) 885-5000 or visit online at