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