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Beethoven, bluegrass

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra continues its sparkling summer season at Artpark with two concerts this weekend. One is Beethoven, and one is bluegrass. Catch one, or, better still, catch both.

Saturday at 8 p.m. brings the Kingston Trio, a veteran ensemble that goes back to the folk revival of the '50s and '60s. The group's members have changed over the years, but its current three musicians have decades of experience. Bill Zorn was with the trio in the '70s, and George Grove has been with the group for 30 years. Rick Dougherty, like Zorn, used to belong to the Limeliters, another legendary folk group.

Last year, when the Kingston Trio last jammed with the BPO, they generously served up all their old hits -- "Greenback Dollar," "Tom Dooley" and more. They know how to put on a show.

Sunday at 3 p.m. brings what could well turn out to be the highlight of the Summerfest season: a Beethoven extravaganza. Pianist Sarah Buechner will be the soloist in the beautiful, Mozartean Piano Concerto No. 1. And Resident Conductor Robert Franz is going to conduct the milestone Ninth Symphony, complete with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and the famous "Ode to Joy."

It's a chance for Franz to show what he and the orchestra can do. It's also a celebration of one of the most moving, triumphant pieces of music you will ever hear. The music is introverted in a way -- in its opening bars, Beethoven communicated what it was like to be deaf. But it ends on a note of magnificence and humanity.

Beethoven loved the outdoors, so it's especially appropriate that the Ninth rings forth in such an idyllic setting as Artpark. The vocal soloists are Rachel Holland, Sebnem Mekinulov, Joe Dan Harper and Leonard Rowe.

Admission is $14 to $58. For more information, call 885-5000.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

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