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Time to tango
Viva Vivaldi is promising a vivacious opening

Tango meets Viva Vivaldi!

Sunday, Buffalo's annual Baroque festival begins its 30th anniversary season. And the first concert, at St. Joseph University Church, promises an unusual twist. Sharing the program with Vivaldi will be a taste of music by tango master Astor Piazzolla.

"It's a total departure for us," laughs Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra first violinist Marylouise Nanna, who leads the Ars Nova Musicians, the chamber orchestra that anchors the festival.

The tango portion of the program stars special guest Sal Andolina on soprano sax. He will be playing an arrangement of Piazzolla's "The History of Tango," as well as the popular "Oblivion."

It's all in the spirit of the festival, which traditionally focuses on the music of Antonio Vivaldi, with a few other composers -- affectionately called Vicarious Visionaries -- thrown in.

Because of the 30th anniversary, this year's Viva Vivaldi is especially vivacious. Another designated Vicarious Visionary is Luigi Boccherini. A Boccherini aria for cello and soprano is scheduled for Concert 2, performed by BPO principal cellist Roman Mekinulov and his wife, soprano Sebnem Mekinulov.

"It's called 'Tyrannous Love,' " Nanna says. "There's a terrific, virtuoso cello part.

"Boccherini was a cellist," she adds. "He wrote some wonderful works for cello."

Two more Vicarious Visionaries are Francesco Geminiani and Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose "Te Deum" is included in Concert 4, along with Vivaldi's "Gloria."

Nanna encourages new talent. Concert 1 features teen soprano Emily Helenbrook, and Concert 2 features the young violinist Megan Prokes. The Buffalo Suzuki Strings play in Concert 4.

But the festival brings in the stars, too. In a celebrity cameo, guitarist Jason Vieaux performs on Concert 4. Vieaux, who grew up in the Buffalo area and heads the Guitar Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, is playing a Vivaldi concerto.

"I hope he does the slow movement of the Lute Concerto as an encore," Nanna can't resist adding.

Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" is on tap for the third concert. The piece features Diana Sachs (spring), Anne Marie Terranova (summer), Antoine Lefebvre (fall) and Dmitry Gerikh (winter).

In the fourth concert, Vivaldi will get a historic twist. BPO cellist Amelie Fradette will be playing a cello concerto on a 18th century Guadagnini cello, on loan from the Baird family.




WHAT: Viva Vivaldi Festival presented by the Ars Nova Musicians

WHEN AND WHERE: 7 p.m. Sunday, St. Joseph University Church (3269 Main St.); 6:30 p.m. Nov. 9, Unitarian Universalist Church (695 Elmwood Ave.); 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16, Westminster Presbyterian Church (724 Delaware Ave.); and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 23, First Presbyterian Church (1 Symphony Circle)

TICKETS: $10, $8 students and seniors

INFO: 662-3598

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