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Aretha Franklin, Crosby and Nash set dates at the Seneca Events Center

60758678 The legendary Aretha Franklin will open her summer tour at the Seneca Events Center (310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls) on May 28.

The singer, recovering from recent surgery, will also release her long-awaited album, "Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love," in May. Ticket prices and the on-sale date are still to be announced.

Also announced for the Seneca Events Center is another performance featuring iconic musical talent. "An Evening With David Crosby & Graham Nash" is set for 8 p.m. April 30. Tickets start at $25 and go on sale at noon next Friday.

   Purchase tickets for events at the Seneca Niagara Casino through all Seneca Casino box
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The magic flute

Christinebailey The 1961 flute concerto by American composer Lowell Liebermann is on this weekend's Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concert. The soloist is Christine Bailey Davis, the orchestra's principal flutist, pictured at left.

This is a lovely piece and it has never before been performed by the BPO, at least not on the Classics Series. (I have scoured the orchestra's handy archives.)

When a piece is new to you it is nice to hear it a few times before heading to the concert. Here is the first movement. The opening theme especially reminds me Erich Wolfgang Korngold, the great film composer who also wrote the captivating violin concerto we have heard at Kleinhans Music Hall several times.

Here is the Adagio. One commenter writes: "It's so peaceful. I feel like I'm lying on a grassy field one sunny spring afternoon, with the wind blowing gently by." That is one way of saying it.

And the last movement. This thing flies! It sounds like very demanding music. I see that one flutist writes, "This is my goal concerto." Lots of luck!

This should be a good concert this weekend. There are a lot of fireworks -- not only this concerto, but Tchaikovsky's ever-popular Fifth Symphony. I heard the BPO playing it at Artpark, I think it was in summer 2009, and I remember marveling how that symphony can still be a thrill, no matter how many times you hear it.

According to the BPO Archives, which I cannot stay away from, Tchaikovsky's Fifth has been performed 16 times by the BPO. They do not list the Artpark performance, I am guessing because it was not, strictly speaking, the Classics series.

So, a tried-and-true treat, and a BPO premiere. I think it is going to be fun.

The concert takes place Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. For info, call 885-5000.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


Taylor Swift announces HSBC concert

It's finally official. Grammy Award-winning pop-country star Taylor Swift will bring her "Speak Now" tour to HSBC Arena on June 21.

FAIR -- SWIFT FEA  KIRKHAM swift 03   Tickets are $72, $62 and $27.50 and go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 25 at the HSBC Arena box office, online at or by calling 888-223-6000. A random handbill policy is in effect and handbills are available now.

Expect plenty of wardrobe changes from Swift as she performs chart-topping songs off all three of her albums including “Mine,” “You Belong With Me” and “Our Song.” Special guest Need to Breathe is also on the bill.


Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News



Springtime for the BPO

Falletta2 It was happy news, JoAnn Falletta, pictured at left, renewing her contract to five more years with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It is good news, too, that the orchestra will be going back to Carnegie Hall.

The BPO will be appearing in Carnegie Hall in May 2013 as part of the Spring For Music Festival -- stylishly abbreviated S4M. This is a new festival, and it is fun to figure it out.

The complex Spring For Music Web site never comes right out and explains how the festival works. But what I have been able to make out is intriguing. Seven orchestras are performing this year, on seven different evenings in May. They were chosen from 25 orchestras that applied. The prestigious Orpheus Chamber Orchestra -- Buffalo has heard them on the Ramsi P. Tick Memorial Concert Series -- kicks off this year's festival on May 6. It is followed by the Toledo Symphony, the Albany Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and, finally, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal.

As you would expect when you hear a festival described as "adventurous," the programming leans toward the contemporary, but there are classics thrown in too. The Montreal orchestra, in particular, gets away with a lot of Gabrieli, Bach and Beethoven.

The programs for 2013, including the BPO's, have yet to be determined. The orchestras sharing billing with us have, however, been announced. They are the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Cincinatti Symphony -- and the Dallas Symphony and the Oregon Symphony, who were somehow able to double-dip, and appear both this year and in 2013.

As for the music these orchestras are going to play, I get the impression it is not set in stone for some time. Apparently an orchestra posts a program, and people get on the site and vote, and comment, and the orchestra has the option of changing it. That is an interesting idea.

What I really like is the site's Fantasy Program Contest. You can dream up a program and post it, explaining why you chose the music you did. Ideas people have posted include "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About F-Sharp Minor," "Preach It! A Musical Sermon," and "One Movement Please."

The idea then seems to be to get other people to vote for your program. You can vote only once on a program. But the good news is, you can marshall as many people as you can to stuff the ballot box for the program you favor -- yours, or someone else's. We in Buffalo are good at this!

There is one other piece of good news too, about the S4M Festival.

Admission is only $25.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman


'Angels in America' and a prophecy for theater


Over the weekend, I saw both parts of Signature Theatre Company's production of "Angels in America," an epic piece of theater that got its hooks into me during college by way of a literature course and Mike Nichols' HBO miniseries, but which I'd never seen performed. It was stunning in just about every way, and I wrote my forthcoming column about the prospect (shaky as it stands) of a local production of the show.

I think "Angels in America," especially the first half, is an object lesson in how being smart and emotionally attuned to your audience pays off in terms of popularity. It's the old theory, of which I've written before, that the only true way to grow your audience and expand the popularity of the medium in which you work is to treat theatergoers as hyper-intelligent people. (Which they are.) Kushner's play is as intellectual as they come, but the force of its intellect is only apparent because its emotional content is so exceptionally engrossing.

It goes to show that the more genuine and engrossing a play's emotional tenor, the more intellectual content we are willing to swallow and able to digest. This is part of the brilliance of Tony Kushner, who, unlike other astonishingly smart and impossibly erudite playwrights and screenwriters, has managed to broaden his audience's understanding of the world without talking over their heads.

This exquisite balance between intellectual truth and emotional accessibility is what makes a piece like "Angels in America" so compelling, and so difficult to do justice to. The achievement of that balance serves as an instruction not only to other playwrights, but to companies worried about growing audiences in an era of declining funding and (supposedly) declining interest in the medium.

It's a lesson that the best local theaters seem to heed and the mediocre ones seem to eschew, either temporarily or as a matter of policy. Seeing "Angels in America" reinforced for me the idea that, in the long run, it's not only possible to be smart and popular at the same time -- it's utterly necessary.

--Colin Dabkowski

Live Grammys review chat with Jeff Miers at noon

Review Grammys chat with Jeff Miers

Grammy coverage: Video, stories and live chats

News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers has Sunday night's Grammy awards covered from all angles. In the video below, he takes a look ahead at the show. In Sunday's Spotlight section, in a package that you'll only find Sunday in the print edition of The Buffalo News, he talks with some experts about whether the Grammys are still relevant -- and he makes his picks for who should win Grammys in the top categories.

And at 8 p.m. Sunday night, Jeff will be chatting live about the first hour of the show. You can find that chat here on The Gusto Blog. If you miss him then, he'll chat again at noon Monday, looking back at the night's highs and lows.

Bob Seger returns to HSBC Arena

Get ready for some old time rock 'n' roll. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band are returning to Buffalo to perform a concert at 8 p.m. April 9 in HSBC Arena.

Tickets are $69.50 and go on sale at 10 a.m. on Feb. 19 at the arena box office, online at or by phone at (888) 223-6000. A random handbill policy is in effect for the show; handbills will be available starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 11.


Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil at Medaille College tonight

Has this long, bitterly cold winter got you down? Perhaps a quick getaway to the tropics is beyond your means, but if you're a fan a contemporary poetry and you're within driving range of Medaille College tonight, an hour of listening to the lush, playfully sensual, and imaginatively exotic poetry of Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the perfect remedy for your winter blues.

At 7 tonight in the Academic Commons on the fourth floor of Medaille's Main Hall, 18 Agassiz Circle in Buffalo, Nezhukumatathil will read from her new collection of poems "Lucky Fish" (Tupelo Press) for the college's The Write Thing Reading Series.

Continue reading "Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil at Medaille College tonight" »

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