Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
With the Canisius Chorale
Wednesday at the Montante Cultural Center, Canisius College
The collaboration between the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Ron Spigelman, and the Canisius College Chorale appears to be a fruitful one. Audiences get to see the orchestra in a smaller, more intimate setting (the Montante Cultural Center); Persis Vehar, the college's resident composer, gets an opportunity to hear her work performed by a world class orchestra; and the members of the chorale get a chance to sing some interesting scores with the orchestra.
Wednesday night was an opportunity to see all these possibilities come to fruition. True, the parking around Canisius College was somewhat scant due to ongoing construction, but those hardy and persistent audience members who actually found spots to park their rides were able to see a very good concert.
Vehar's short, two movement "Frank Lloyd Wright Suite" received a world premiere, and the composer gave a brief talk about her visits to numerous important buildings created by the architect, including the Darwin Martin House, the Guggenheim Museum and Taliesin West, and the inspiration that the structures gave her.
The first movement was interesting, with a variety of aural colors emanating from the percussion section and Vehar's use of the tuba as a surprisingly light-footed focal point during some passages. Still, it was the second movement with its writing for the string players that was proved to be more beguiling.
The Canisius College Chorale joined the BPO for decent performances of two pieces by Felix Mendelssohn ("I Waited for the Lord' from the composer's second symphony and "Verleih Uns Frieden') and a much more exciting rendition of Antonio Vivaldi's choral showpiece, "Beatus Vir'.
The Chorale's director, Frank Scinta, has done an amazing job with his collegiate charges, helping to turn them from their rough hewn beginnings a few years ago into a far more polished ensemble, albeit with the addition of some ringers from the Blessed Sacrament choir that Scinta also leads.
The singers also performed a pair of a capella numbers as a way of filling out the first half of the evening's concert. Their version of Moses Hogan's "Hear My Prayer Lord' was outstanding while a setting of Psalm 150 was a tad less so.
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony no. 1 was the final performance of the concert and the BPO did a fairly decent job with it. It was clear, by virtue of the orchestra's playing, to see the lessons that the young Beethoven had learned from Haydn and Mozart, but it was also enjoyable to listen to the development of an embryonic genius.