Take time out of your busy schedule to watch a bunch of baby violinists grooving their way through "Buffalo Gals." See if this does not brighten your day.
And these kids are not even from Buffalo!
This video comes to us courtesy of the superlative fiddler Mark O'Connor. The teacher, as I understand it, is affiliated with his Allegheny Mountain Strings Project. O'Connor, let's remember, is no stranger to Buffalo himself. I will always remember when he played a couple of years ago with the Orchard Park Symphony. It was a lot of fun to have this star in our midst and O'Connor played a terrific show featuring his own vivacious and charming Fiddle Concerto.
I like what a team player O'Connor is. He works so hard organizing efforts to teach kids to play the violin, as the video up above shows, and also he seems to spend a lot of time traveling the byways of America. The show with the Orchard Park Symphony appears to be typical. He seems to play a lot with smaller ensembles, community groups, kids' orchestras.
And it's funny, he is not especially eager to claim the starring role. Roaming the Internet just now I found this video of O'Connor playing the beautiful "Ashokan Farewell" with a group of other distinguished musicians. The "Ashokan Farewell" is the poignant waltz that accompanied the Ken Burns series on the Civil War. I love this performance for its collaborative spirit. No one is grandstanding. O'Connor is the handsome dude with the mustache, third from the left. You do not see him until the music gets under way.
It is easy to fiddle your whole day away! As if you have all the time in the world.
There is something about this music that shoots your work ethic!
News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and Classical Music Critic/Buzz Columnist Mary Kunz Goldman hosted a live chat before shifting in front of the camera. Please excuse the first four minutes of silence when the audio wasn't working due to technical difficulties.
News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and Classical Music Critic/Buzz Columnist Mary Kunz Goldman hosted a traditional live chat earlier today before shifting in front of the camera and continuing to answer your questions live.
Charles Griffasi, the indefatigableartsadvocate and community event organizer who has put his stamp dozens of cultural festivals and initiatives over the past half-century, is at it again.
His Cultural Walk of Fame, a sort of idiosyncratic tribute to some of Western New York's most interesting cultural exports, has been an curious fixture on a short stretch of Elmwood Avenue for the past several years. And last Friday, Griffasi and his organization, Cultural Concert International, added 10 new names to the sidewalk tribute.
I haven't been by yet to see if the suggestion I made last year -- for Griffasi to hire a copy editor to avoid the sorts of embarrassing mistakes that have appeared in past additions to the walk -- was taken to heart. But typos or no, the Cultural Walk is a welcome addition a busy pedestrian thoroughfare and a worthy tribute to the region's cultural heritage.
News Arts Editor Jeff Simon and Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers host their weekly live chat at noon today. At 12:30 p.m. they shift in front of the camera and continue to answer your questions live. Continue to submit your questions in the same fashion and watch for a response.
Earlier this evening, many members of Buffalo's arts community gathered in the chambers of the Buffalo Common Council to make their case about the need for restoring city arts funding, which has been absent for more than a decade. The council already voted on a resolution authored by council member Michael LoCurto in support of allocating $300,000 for the Fund for the Arts (an alliance of local foundations), and council members expressed a hope that Mayor Byron Brown would include that funding in his budget.
(If not, Common Council President David A. Franczyk said he thought it would be possible for the council add in that funding and to gather the six common council votes needed should Brown veto that decision. But it hasn't come to that yet. Council member Michael Kearns, for his part, suggested allocating the money outside of the current budget process, which would avoid political tussling among a council and mayor that generally prefer to work together on budget matters.)
As has been typical of these meetings over the past several months, a wide range of cultural personalities made eloquent and forceful cases for investing public money in the arts. The usual suspects were there: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center Executive Director Edumund Cardoni, Theatre of Youth Executive Director Meg Quinn, Music Is Art Executive Director Tod Kniazuk -- and they did their cause justice. But what set this meeting apart from some of the previous ones was the presence of a couple of impassioned and deeply informed younger voices who expressed what is becoming an increasing realization of Buffalo's very real potential to become a cultural center in the mold of Portland, Ore.
Out of the hour of speeches, these two, by actor Megan Callahan and curator and artist Jeff Maciejewski, are the highlights:
Listen to the full slate of speakers, which together represent an incontrovertible case for funding the arts at a far greater level than they're funded today: