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Stars lining up for Andy Anselmo birthday cabaret

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Buffalo jazz crooner Michael Civisca is making a rare appearance in the limelight on April 24, for a special occasion. The occasion is Life is a Cabaret, which celebrates the 90th anniversary of Buffalo's Community Music School as well as the 90th birthday of the great singing guru Andy Anselmo.

Andy Anselmo, a graduate of the Community Music School, coached such stars as Liza Minnelli, Mandy Patinkin, Joanne Woodward and Regis Philbin.

Civisca is just one part of a star-studded lineup for the party, which takes place in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall. Other entertainers include a jazz trio led by drummer Carmen Intorre; and the cabaret duo Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, who have performed at such venues as Birdland, the Algonquin and the Metropolitan Room. You can watch Comstock and Fasano in the video up above.

Also taking the stage will be Caroline Jones, Anselmo's New York protegee. Miss Jones is a singer, songwriter, recording artist and radio host. Remember, the last time she sang here, sports legend Ed Kilgore told her she had more range than Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Life is a Cabaret takes place at 7:30 p.m. April 24. Tickets are $40 and all proceeds benefit the Community Music School. VIP tickets are $100 and include preferred show seating and a post-event reception with the performers. Tickets are available online or through the school, 415 Elmwood Ave., by calling 884-4887.

JoAnn Falletta ending contract with Ulster Orchestra

 By Mary Kunz Goldman

JoAnn Falletta will be leaving the Ulster Orchestra in September, news reports have announced. Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, has been chief conductor of the orchestra in Northern Ireland since 2011, when she signed a three-year contract

Her successor, the orchestra's website states, will be Rafael Payare, 33, of Venezuela.

Payare is a former member of Venezuela's famous Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, whose music director is Gustavo Dudamel, also the popular music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamel has done a lot to raise the international profile of "El Sistema," Venezuela's social musical education program. The Ulster Orchestra reports that Payare's agenda includes plans to introduce "El Sistema" to Northern Ireland's children in the coming season.

The Ulster Orchestra has been suffering from financial difficulties and is currently underoing a restructuring. Falletta's tenure with the group, though, has had memorable highlights. She made her debut at London's prestigious Proms with the orchestra in 2011 and also has made four recordings with the orchestra for Naxos, the label that also records her with the BPO. Her Naxos discs with the Ulster Orchestra have included discs of the music of Gustav Holst, the Irish composer Ernest John Moeran and American composer John Knowles Paine. 

The above video shows her leading the orchestra in Paine's "The Tempest."

BPO postpones concert with rock band America

By Mary Kunz Goldman

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's March 26 concert with America has been postponed, the orchestra has just announced. The band, whose tour has taken them recently to Colorado and Cleveland, postponed the Buffalo concert because of medical leave.

The concert has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. June 5.

All tickets will be honored on the new date. For more information, call the BPO, 885-5000.

BPO Subscriptions Soar To New High

Joann

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Get your tickets while you can!

Maybe it's next season's Beethoven Festival. Maybe it's all those yummy doughnuts promised at the Coffee Concerts. Maybe there's simply music in the air. In any case, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has shattered all of its previous subscription records.

Both dollars and number of subscribers are at an all-time high.

The BPO provided numbers: "Subscription sales for the 2013-14 season currently stand at $1.85 million, up 4 percent from the previous season's figure of $1.78 million. The number of individual subscribers now totals 6,700."

The orchestra thinks the increase might be thanks to the buzz generated by its triumph last June at Carnegie Hall, its recent Florida tour and its Naxos CDs. There are also a wide variety of flexible subscription plans designed to attract a wider audience.

BPO Executive Director Dan Hart also credits the synergy among the BPO staff, board and musicians.

"The orchestra is playing at a very high level. Music director JoAnn Falletta (pictured above) is an excellent ambassador to the community and continues to program outstanding seasons," he said. "It's gratifying to see the public respond to our efforts."

 

Could Renee Fleming kick off a new tradition?

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Renee Fleming sounded beautiful and looked beautiful, as she sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl just a few minutes ago.

I would not be surprised if the Super Bowl sticks to opera singers for this all-important job from now on. Since the announcement was made that this opera diva was going to sing the anthem, I have seen no negative comments, not one, and I have kept an eye on the Internet. She sang the anthem wonderfully. It sounded free, not straight-jacketed, but it was dignified and worthy of the occasion. Her high notes were strong and clear. Brava, Miss Fleming! Brava!

Next year they can choose another opera singer. Maybe a man next time, or maybe one of the many fine African-American opera singers out there, to remind people that this art is universal.

Let's take back the reverence of this moment.

We are off to a great start.

Hallelujahs for Renee Fleming and her Super Bowl gig

Renee

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Renee Fleming, above, is getting shouts of "Brava!" for singing the National Anthem at the upcoming Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

The story on Yahoo! News is eliciting comments that can pretty much be translated to "Viva la Diva." 

"Thank God! How many horrible renditions have we had to endure over the years? Love her voice!"

"At least we won't have Pop Divas taking one syllable words and turning them into 50 syllable words spanning four octaves."

"Finally, they have someone with talent."

"A real singer singing our National Anthem. Refreshing."

"I think this is great! I hope she sings it as written. Opera singers have incredible voices!"

Best of all...

"Wait a minute, they're having someone who can actually sing perform the anthem? This is a breaking a long standing tradition!"

Renee Fleming, who is from Rochester, has sung here in Buffalo a number of times, including opening the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's season in 2002 and 2006. She is reportedly the first opera singer to have the honor of singing the anthem at the Super Bowl. As we rejoice in this turn of events, here she is singing Mozart's famous "Alleluia."

Hmmmm... a bit like "The Star-Spangled Banner," it builds to a dazzling high note at the end!

Could we maybe hear this at halftime?

 

You, too, can be on TV with Lance Diamond!

Lance

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Television cameras. Did we hear the words television cameras?

Because Lance Diamond is going to be chowing wings with Mo Rocca on "CBS Sunday Morning," as many Buffalonians as possible must join him in the national spotlight.

For part of the shoot Lance is doing a special two-hour show at Milkie's on Elmwood today from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. CBS is going to shoot some of the show for their story.

Go!

Mo Rocca gets his fill of wings with Buffalo booster Bernice Radle

Buffalo booster Bernice Radle, one of three locals chosen to appear in a segment on chicken wings to run on "CBS Sunday Morning" in advance of the Superbowl, poses below with CBS correspondent Mo Rocca:

--Colin Dabkowski

JoAnn Falletta Returning to Carnegie Hall on Tuesday

Falletta-lefevre

 

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director JoAnn Falletta is returning to Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night, this time at the helm of the prestigious Orchestra of St. Luke's, a New York chamber ensemble.

She will be joined by pianist Alain Lefevre, who is playing the Piano Concerto No. 4 of Andre Mathieu, and who is pictured with her above.

Historically, on the classical music and vaudeville circuits, Buffalo has been a town that previews shows bound for New York. Such was the case with this concert. Lefevre was in Buffalo early this year to perform that particular concerto, which he champions. Mathieu, who has been called Canada's Mozart, was a pianist and composer who was a protege of Rachmaninoff and died young. The concerto Lefevre is playing was put together from fragments after his death.

Lefevre's performance in Buffalo was memorable in part because there was a glitch and the wheels to the piano were not properly secured. The instrument kept rolling away from him as he played. After the first movement he had to tap Falletta on the shoulder, and the situation was subsequently fixed. You could say the pianist was on a roll. Which The Buffalo News did.

Continue reading "JoAnn Falletta Returning to Carnegie Hall on Tuesday" »

Buffalo jazz pianist Mike Jones conquering the nation

Mikejones

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Mike Jones' new trio album, "Plays Well With Others," seems to be everywhere. Now you can read a glowing review from JazzTimes. 

Similar bravos appear all over the place. This one is typical.

You may revisit Jeff Simon's praise for the album here.

The Tattooed One continues to perform in Las Vegas as part of the Penn & Teller show. Friday, he performs at an esteemed Chicago jazz club, the Green Mill.

Here in Buffalo, the album can be had wherever fine recordings by local musicians are sold. A friend just bought it inb East Aurora at Vidler's.

A taste -- 

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