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The Holiday Gig From Hell

A certain Buffalo singer has a gig coming up for a local business group at a local country club. The organizers request two hours of seasonal music -- but no mention of Christmas ...

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... or Santa Claus ...

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... or even holidays.

What to do??

Well, there's "Winter Wonderland."

"That's right," our singer friend said. "And ....?"

Yikes, even most 96.1 Joy FM standards don't qualify. "Frosty the Snowman" might be OK. And "Jingle Bells." And "Let it Snow."

Beyond that you are on thin ice. Even "Winter Wonderland" has that problematic mention of Parson Brown. Well, maybe people have forgotten that a parson is a pastor.

You could sing "O Christmas Tree" in German because "Tannenbaum" is technically fir tree, not Christmas tree. But try explaining that to your employers as they are showing you the wreathless door.

No-holly

Two hours of this! Good luck with that, we told our singer friend.

Better you than Buzz!

 

Ho, Ho, Ho! Santa Takes Control of the BPO

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"Jingle Bell Jam," the kids' concert Sunday at Kleinhans Music Hall, was jammed! With many unforgettable sights.  For one thing Ron Spigelman, the conductor, handed the Philharmonic over to Santa. It made us think of when the chicken conducted!

Our photo of Santa on the podium is up above, not bad considering we had our 6-year-old nephew in one hand and a candy cane in the other.

Meanwhile it was also fun to see little girls and boys of every description enjoying Victor Herbert's "March of the Toys" while sporting all kinds of offbeat finery. (One little girl wore a white ballet dress. (You could just imagine the conversation. Girl: "Can I wear my ballet dress?" Mom: "Sure.")

Also, in the Mary Seaton Room, what to our wondering eyes should appear than the longest line for Santa that Buzz had ever seen.

No kidding, this line stretched all around the perimeter!

A dad who was standing away from the line with his kids, placidly eating cookies, gets the Wise Men Award as far as we are concerned.

"They know he's not the real Santa," he said. "I tell them there are people who just play Santa. I'm not getting into this."

Derby Cupcake Ban Echoes At Kleinhans Music Hall

NocupRon Spigelman, who used to be the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's Principal Pops Conductor, was born in Australia but he is a Buffalonian at heart. He proved that at Kleinhans Music Hall this morning at the Coffee Concert, which was "Classic Christmas."

After Engelbert Humperdinck's Prelude to "Hansel and Gretel," which opened the concert, Spigelman turned to face the big audience.

"There are a couple of morals to that story," he said. "One of them is: Don't eat doughnuts! Not good for you!"

Ha, ha! The crowd, which included a lot of schoolchildren, completely lost it.

Who has not been chewing on that cupcake situation out in Derby, where a principal is banning kids' birthday cupcakes? The food police are at the gates! Spigelman, who may have read the paper, fed into that.

"And gingerbread!" he lectured us. "Horrible!"

The audience howled.

"Just kidding," Spigelman said.

Whew!

 

Move Over, Griswolds: Buffalo Suburb Has You Beat

Lancaster

Let other towns settle for silent nights, for carolers singing a quiet "Jingle Bells." In the arena of Christmas celebrations, Lancaster -- pictured above in a recent News photo -- reaches for, well, the arena.

It must have started small, when the town inherited those AM&A's window displays.

But then it grew. And now don't bother knocking, Lancaster's a-rocking! A recent evening found the town's Christmasville throbbing to the beat of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with wildly blinking snowflakes and synchronized lights.

"It definitely could be heard through the walls of Lancaster Opera House during Monday's Town Board meeting," marvels one woman who was there.  

Eventually her head began to pound too. "It gave me a headache and an eyeache."

Hmmm. If your ears, head and eyes are all hurting, that could actually give the burg a boost. So laughed one sympathetic villager. "He told me there's all of about three main Central Avenue businesses."

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which encourages this light-synching activity, must love this riot of rock and light. We get the idea most villagers do, too. But there are at least three people who aren't happy. 

Those would be Mssrs. Adam, Meldrum and Anderson.

Surely they are turning in their graves!  

Buffalo Thanksgiving Music Video Goes Viral

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We speak, of course, of "It's The Most Buffalo Week of the Year," performed by cabaret legend Guy Boleri and the guy Buzz married, Howard Goldman. Click here to hear it.

It is the musical version of the cover story in today's Spotlight section on how Thanksgiving weekend reveals our city's psyche. The photos are great. Love the shots of Luna. And the World's Largest Disco.

Everybody sing!

 

"A Chorus Line" Legend Recalls Marvin Hamlisch

Donna"One Singular Sensation," the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, had a lot of singular moments, as well as a few sensational ones. One memorable interlude came when Donna McKechnie reminisced about creating the role of Cassie in "A Chorus Line."

McKechnie, left, joked around about what happened when Marvin Hamlisch wrote "her song" for the show. The time was running out before the show was going to open, and she was excited when he announced he had written it.

She said he handed her the score and laughingly asked, "Can you sight read?"

And the song was, initially, a problem to sing! McKechnie mimicked herself trying to sing it.

Her solution to the song's difficulty, or should we say, impossibility?

She wanted to tell him, "Don't you think it's a little range-y?" but did not. You did not tell Marvin Hamlisch how to do his job.

Instead, she told us, slowly: "You breathe and pray and you trust that being the genius he is, he will rethink this."

The packed house burst out laughing. Breathing and praying add up to the secret to a lot of success in life, you know? It worked for McKechnie.

We note that McKechnie has a book out, "Time Steps."

It is starting to sound like a Buzz must read!

Different Artists, Same Hairstyle

Looking through the latest Gusto, dreaming of the weekend, Buzz can't help but be struck by Sinead O'Connor, on the cover...

Sinead

... and Macklemore, on the next page. That is Macklemore on the left in case you do not know your rappers.

Mackle

OK, Macklemore has a little more hair, and he strikes as a lot more fun. But they pretty much share the same look, you know?

First the bald pianist.

Now this!

BPO Guest Pianist Splits Hairs


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Russian pianist Yakov Kasman, who played Prokofiev last weekend with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, not only has great chops, he has a great sense of humor.

The Buffalo News, while praising the performance, had fun pointing out the difference between Kasman's style and the style of the guest conductor, Arild Remmereit. Remmereit wore formal tie and tails, while Kasman opted for more casual clothes. Remmereit, with his long, shining blond hair, was something of a showman, whereas Kasman was bent over the piano like an accountant bent over his desk.

The News gets a email from Kasman. He wrote good-humoredly: "I think you forgot to mention in this music review that I am bald in a contrast with the conductor."

And he signed it: "Jakov Kasman, Accountant."

Lidia Bastianich, Opera Woman

Lidia

In conversation with The Buffalo News, super-chef Lidia Bastianich mentioned she liked classical music.

What classical music? Buzz, nerd that we are, had to ask.

Lidia had answers! 

“I go regularly to the Met," she told Buzz. “My favorite conductor is Valery Gergiev. I met him. We’re somewhat friends now. I followed him to the White Nights festival in St. Petersburg. They have a festival of classical music. It’s magnificent. That got me into the Russian music. ‘War and Peace.' ‘Prince Igor.' "

Those are some impressive Russian operas! "War and Peace" is by Serge Prokofiev. "Prince Igor" is by Alexander Borodin. 

In this gorgeous video you may watch Lidia's friend Maestro Gergiev in action.

 

Wow. Sort of makes you hungry, doesn't it? We can see where Lidia gets her inspiration.

If music be the food of love, cook on!

The Five Critters You Meet In Kleinhans

Act your age, not your shoe size, as our teachers used to tell us. But still. Buzz had to crack up at Kleinhans Music Hall, seeing these critters at the recent Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra kids' show.

Elmo tried to cajole our niece, Barbara, into posing with him. No go.

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Elmo had better luck with Barbara's dad.

 

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Parents all wanted to get their pictures taken with Elmo! What was with that? This is supposed to be for the kids and the grown-ups are having the good time.

We loved these creatures standing by the stairs.

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We loved seeing Matthew Kraemer, the BPO's Associate Conductor, in a chicken suit. That alone, you have to figure, is worth the price of admission.

And the best was, we saw Mickey Mouse walking into the Mary Seaton Room, looking sweaty and exhausted, taking off his giant Mickey Mouse head. Ha, ha! We wish we had gotten a picture of that.

Some things never grow old!

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