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And they're off! BPO Poland adventure begins

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra popped the champagne at Kleinhans Music Hall last weekend, anticipating its first overseas tour in 30 years. Some 2,600 Buffalonians joined them in celebrating over the course of two concerts.

And then it was time for the rubber to meet the road.

Taking an orchestra overseas is no easy matter, the BPO has discovered. Some aspects of touring are hilariously complicated, such as instrument inspections by the United States Fish and Wildlife Agency.

Happily, so far, everything is proceeding on schedule.

A 53-foot truck rolled up to Kleinhans Music Hall to carry all the philharmonic's instruments to the cargo terminal at New York City's JFK Airport.

BPO staffers celebrate the loading of the instrument truck.

At dawn on March 12, personnel began to follow. Lisa Gallo, the orchestra's director of concert production, and stagehands Charlie Gill and Sean Avery caught a 5:45 a.m. flight from Buffalo to meet the truck at JFK. Instruments were put on pallets and, once they were secure, were loaded onto a cargo plane to Liege, Belgium. Liege was the closest cargo hub to the orchestra's destinations in Poland.

Gill and Avery have the job of reuniting with the instruments in Liege, and seeing the precious cargo conveyed safely to Wroclaw, Poland, in time for the full orchestra’s first concert on  March 18.

Also on March 12, the eight musicians who comprise the BPO wind octet boarded their flight. They will have a few days to acclimate, practice and get over jet lag before March 15, when their master classes and performances begin in Luslawice (pronounced Loose-lah-veet-suh).

The rest of the orchestra departs the evening of March 15. The musicians will be taking a bus from Buffalo to Toronto, then flying to Prague, and taking another bus from Prague to Wroclaw on March 16.

Cellist Robbie Hausmann is planning an emotional trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he will perform the Kaddish for all the relatives who died there, particularly his great-grandmother.

While in Warsaw, violist Janz Castelo plans on making a pilgrimage to visit Frederic Chopin's heart. The great composer is buried in Paris, but friends took his heart and buried it in Warsaw. Chopin's father was French but his mother was Polish, and he was born in Poland.

The News will be following the tour from afar and posting frequent updates.

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