The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is returning from its Florida tour with lots of dramatic stories to tell. The stories are extra epic considering that the orchestra and JoAnn Falletta have been touring with French virtuoso Philippe Bianconi, who has been playing the tumultuous Rachmaninoff Third.
Bianconi rocked Kleinhans Music Hall with the Rachmaninoff almost a fortnight ago and Florida audiences, too, have been thrilled by him.
Perhaps most thrilling of all was his solo piano performance at a PGA golf resort 20 minutes outside St. Augustine. We would assume that to be the World Golf Village.
As Buzz understands it, the resort was the only place that could accommodate the orchestra for its Daytona and St. Augustine concerts. Plus, they had a piano where Bianconi could keep his chops up. As board member Cindy Letro reports, the hotel's rooms tower over a central atrium with a piano bar in the center. The focal point of the cocktail bar is a baby grand piano with a flat lucite cover and a tip jar in the corner. The sound of the piano wafts up to rooms high above it.
It was at this piano that Bianconi seated himself to run through his Rachmaninoff.
"Imagine this elegant, self-effacing world-renowned pianist pounding out the Rach 3 for hours on end with the chords resonating to the floors above," Letro marvels. "One couple seated at the bar stayed for the entire session."
Later, the couple commented to a BPO musicians that they had thought Philippe was the hotel's scheduled entertainment. Ha, ha!
Letro recognized the glory of the occasion.
"A great moment!" she marveled.