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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."

City of Night puts out a call for site-specific work

City of Night, the grassroots multi-arts festival which will take over Silo City on June 28, is seeking proposals for "performance art, installations, sound art, murals, dance, theater, and light-based works."

Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo, the group behind the popular festival, released a teaser video in hopes of inspiring Western New York creative types to apply. Check out the City of Night website if you're interested in applying. Here's a look:

 

And a handy walkthrough of the site for artists interested in exactly what they're applying to:

 --Colin Dabkowski

BPO fiddlers present free Irish concert at Nietzsche's

Shurtliffe

By Mary Kunz Goldman

The good side of the storms that blew in around St. Patrick's Day? We still have a bit o' St. Patrick's Day music to look forward to. This concert, postponed a few weeks ago because of the weather, sounds like great fun.

It's at Nietzsche's on Wednesday night, and it's free. Two musicians from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, bassist Brett Shurtliffe and violinist Amy Licata, pictured above, have banded together to form a duo devoted to Irish music. Already they have performed with Cherish the Ladies and the Chieftains, as well as with the Buffalo Chamber Players. Licata's solo fiddling has been in the spotlight several times at Kleinhans Music Hall, always to great acclaim. She was a pro at an early age: When she was eight she competed in the a national junior fiddling competition, finishing third behind 13-year-old Mark O'Connor.

At Nietzsche's they promise beautiful airs and jolly ballads. There's no cover, there is beer of various ethnicities including Irish, and there is the uniquely romantic ambiance that belongs only to Nietzsche's. What's not to love? The evening of Irish music begins at 8 p.m.

 

Give for Greatness becomes part of ASI

Give for Greatness, the arts fundraising organization launched by Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses in the wake of Erie County's 2011 cultural funding crisis, will become part of the Arts Services Initiative.

The merger of the two organizations, funded by a consortium of local foundations known as the Fund for the Arts, will create a new development director position at ASI. It will primarily benefit small cultural organizations and expand G4G's mission to include a larger swath of Western New York.

As the funding crisis of 2011 recedes into memory, ASI board president and MusicalFare Theatre founder Randall Kramer said, "the need for G4G remains as prevalent as ever for small and new organizations, as well as groups in Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties where public sector [support] for the arts is not as strongas it is in Erie."

It's tough to overestimate the importance of a group dedicated to funding new and emerging cultural groups Western New York and Erie County, as the vast majority of public and private funding goes to long-established organizations. Gaining a toe-hold as a new group is remarkably difficult -- a problem this reimagined version of G4G aims to solve.

Since its founding, according to the G4G website, the organization has raised $150,000 for local arts organizations. It was headed for a time by former Studio Arena Theatre director Kathleen Gaffney, who left the organization several months ago.

--Colin Dabkowski

Library springs forward with free concert series

Bcp

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Check it out: The Buffalo and Erie County Central Library is holding five free noontime concerts starting April 2. The concerts, which take place in the Central Library Auditorium downtown, is named the Judy Summer Concert Series in honor of the late Judy Summer, a trustee and former Kenmore school teacher.

The first concert , on Wed., April 2, features the Buffalo Chamber Players, some of whom are pictured above. This creative group, which calls itself the Elmwood Village's resident chamber ensemble, was formed in 2007 by Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra violist Janz Castelo. They are performing Mozart's beautiful  String Quartet No. 19 in C, K. 465, known as the “Dissonance” because of its weird beginning. Verdi's String Quartet in E Minor completes the program.

Here is the rest of the schedule: 

Thursday, April 10: The Charles Reedy Jazz Quintet gives listeners a taste of the Colored Musicians Club. Reedy began playing at the historic club in 1947 and has performed with such legends as  many saxophonist Spider Martin, pianist Al Tinney, C.Q.Price Big Band, CMC Jazz All-Stars Band, and the George Scott Big Band.

Friday, April 25: The Buffalo State Chamber Music Ensembles explore music by Mozart, Villa-Lobos, Beethoven, Bach and the Beatles. 

Wednesday, May 7: The Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus showcases the traditions of men's choral singing.

Friday, June 13: The Amherst Saxophone Quartet performs vintage pop, ragtime and early jazz numbers.

All programs begin at 12 noon, run approximately one hour and are free. 

 

Amherst Symphony soon to be minus a maestro


Thomas

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Steven Thomas, the longtime conductor of the Amherst Symphony, is going to be leaving the orchestra after the next concert, April 6. The word is that he is going to be focusing on musical endeavors in the Southern Tier. Thomas and his wife, Martha, live in Fillmore.

The Amherst Symphony is one of the local orchestras that was founded by the late Joseph Wincenc, longtime Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concertmaster. It has had only two conductors in its 68 years of existence -- Wincenc and Thomas.

Nancy Wallace, the president of the board of the Amherst Symphony, said that the orchestra has not yet decided on how exactly it is going to go about finding Steven Thomas' successor. She promises to keep us posted.

Meanwhile, the next concert, at 7 p.m. April 6, features BPO Principal Clarinetist John Fullam as soloist in the Adagio for Clarinet and Orchestra by Carl Baermann and the Rhapsody for Clarinet and Orchestra of Claude Debussy.

A pre-concert talk with Mssrs. Fullam and Thomas begins at 6:15 p.m. And a reception after the concert will honor Thomas, pictured above. Thomas apparently has a lot going on: Besides walking, biking and operating his tractor, he is an active private pilot, flying a Cessna 150 out of Perry Warsaw Airport.  

For info on the Amherst Symphony, check its website, www.amherstsymphony.com.

Sugar City to open new Niagara Street space by summer

Front1239Niagara

The Buffalo arts collective Sugar City will move into this building at 1239 Niagara St. by early summer.

Sugar City, the arts collective formerly housed in an Allentown storefront, has announced plans to open a new art and performance space at 1239 Niagara St. by early summer. The collective's new spot, formerly the bar Compton's After Dark, has undergone recent repairs for water damage. It will join a number of new projects and businesses on the resurgent Niagara Street block.

"We are looking forward to being part of the development of this corridor and to be neighbors with businesses like Santasiero's, Community Beer Works and the new Resurgence Brewery, BT&C Gallery, Buffalo Riverkeeper, and more," a Sugar City release reads.

Last month, the newly launched Body of Trade and Commerce Gallery announced plans to open in a building across the street.

The DIY arts collective operated underground for a number of years before landing on Wadsworth Avenue in 2009. After that space was purchased by the owners of Pausa Art House, Sugar City became an itinerant organization but continued to host frequent events in venues around the city -- including a popular art ride on Buffalo's Metro Rail. Last year, the group received a surprise $30,000 grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Sugar City will hold a public meeting about the new space and the future of the organization at 6:30 p.m. March 27 at 1239 Niagara St. More info on the meeting is here.

 

--Colin Dabkowski

Emerging Buffalo opera singer to sing on 'From the Top'

Emilyjoann

By Mary Kunz Goldman

Teenage soprano Emily Helenbrook, pictured above singing with JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, is making an encore appearance on "From the Top," the national radio show about up-and-coming classical music talent.

Miss Helenbrook, who is from Alexander, is currently a sophomore at the Eastman School of Music. She is being featured as an alumna solo performer on "From the Top" on Wednesday, March 19 at 7 p.m., in Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall. ,

"From the Top" is organized and emcee'd by pianist Christopher O'Riley. Emily performed previously with the show in 2012 at the Chautauqua Institute. The upcoming show will also include 16-year-old cellist Annie Jacobs-Perkins of Pittsford; 10-year-old violinist Pierce Wang of Fremont, Calif.; 16-year-old pianist Carmen Knoll of Carlstadt, N.J. Flutists Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway will lead an ensemble of young musicians and also perform a surprise number with O'Riley.

The show will be broadcast later on WNED-FM, which airs "From the Top" at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

To attend the taping in Rochester, call the Eastman Theatre Box Office at (585) 454-2100. Tickets are $35-150 and student prices are $15.

Metropolitan Opera Auditions down to the semifinals

Renee

By Mary Kunz Goldman

The Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions, which scouted the Buffalo/Toronto area back in early January, have completed their next round. The Met has just announced the singers who will advance to the semifinals.

From a press release:

The 2014 semi-finalists, the regions they will represent in the competition, and their hometowns are: Julie Adams, soprano (Western Region: Burbank, CA); Viktor Antipenko, tenor (Eastern Region: St. Petersburg, Russia, currently living in New York, NY); Jennifer Cherest, soprano (Southeast Region: La Plata, MD); Natalie Cummings, soprano (Gulf Coast Region: Lakeway, TX); Alex John DeSocio, baritone (Midwest Region: Wichita, KS); Patrick Guetti, bass (Middle Atlantic Region: Highland Park, NJ); Nicole Haslett, soprano (Northwest Region: Mt. Laurel, NJ); John Kapusta, tenor (Eastern Region: Wappingers Falls, NY); Ao Li, bass-baritone (Rocky Mountain Region: Dezhou, China, currently living in San Francisco, CA); Yi Li, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Jinan, China, currently living in Silver Spring, MD); Christopher Lowrey, countertenor (New England Region: Johnston, RI); Rafael Moras, tenor (Gulf Coast Region: San Antonio, TX); Scott Russell, bass (Eastern Region: Roanoke, VA); Sofia Selowsky, mezzo-soprano (Central Region: Bethesda, MD); Diego Silva, tenor (Great Lakes Region: Mexico City, Mexico); Dane Suarez, tenor (Mid-South Region: Princeton, IL); Lida Szkwarek, soprano (Upper Midwest Region: Winnipeg, Manitoba); Rexford Tester, tenor (Middle Atlantic Region: Tazewell, VA); Sarah Tucker, soprano (Rocky Mountain Region: Houston, TX); Amanda Woodbury, soprano (Western Region: Crestwood, KY).

It is interesting to note the presence of a countertenor. We are seeing more countertenors. None of the singers listed above initially sang at our Buffalo/Toronto auditions. Our winners, for the record, were soprano Lauren Frey, baritone Cameron McPhail and soprano Magali Simard-Galdes.

To continue to quote the Met's announcement, the semi-finalists arrive at the Met on Thursday, March 20 to rehearse with the company’s music staff in preparation for the semi-finals competition on Sunday, March 23. The winners of that event will go on to sing in the Grand Finals Concert on Sunday, March 30 at 3 p.m. 

Much will be at stake, considering that many great singers -- including Renee Fleming, pictured at top, received awards from the National Council when they were starting out.

To get an idea of the drama, check out this video from the New York Times:

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