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BPO celebrates two Grammys for work on Corigliano piece

One pioneering recording, two Grammy Awards. That's what the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is celebrating.

The Philharmonic's Naxos recording of composer John Corigliano's "Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan," featuring soprano Hila Plitmann, won Grammys in two categories of the three for which it was nominated: classical vocal performance and classical contemporary composition.

"We're just thrilled," Music Director JoAnn Falletta, who conducted the recording, said on Sunday night.

Falletta, reached on her cell phone, gave Corigliano a lot of credit.

"We owe the award completely to the fact that John is a great composer," she said. "This will be looked on as one of the masterpieces of the late 20th century. People are going to look back and say this is a landmark piece, and we got to give the world premiere recording. It just makes me very proud."

She also praised the BPO.

"They played at such a high level," she said. "Buffalo is in a category with the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, other orchestras that have won Grammys.

"I just want to thank the Buffalo audience," she added. "Only because of them can we do pieces that are sophisticated and avant-garde. I mean it, I couldn't do this piece in other places and know the audience would be there with us, so open-minded and adventurous. It's not an easy piece to listen to for the first time. It's a challenging piece in many ways. But they were there, [supporting] us in taking that chance. That makes a lot of difference."

Dan Hart, the BPO's executive director, also reveled in the glory.

"I think a lot of credit has to go to JoAnn," he said. "She pursued this project. It was her vision, to program it and record it, and work with Naxos to get it released. It's really quite a validation of her vision of how the BPO can make its profile in the world of recordings. It's pretty amazing. She deserves a lot of credit.

"I remember sitting there in the recording sessions," he said. "I remember how intense those days were. It's really a difficult thing for the orchestra to be doing these recordings. I think they played so brilliantly. I remember thinking this is going to be a spectacular recording, how neat it is to be on the forefront, issuing a world premiere recording of one of the country's most important composers. It's a really great feeling."

This latest recognition for the BPO reminded Hart of the accomplishments of Lukas Foss, the orchestra's noted former music director who died on Feb. 1.

"I feel it's a kind of continuation of the groundwork he laid," he said. "Of the BPO being out in front, making a name for itself with contemporary music."

Plitmann will be back with the BPO next season, as the soloist in Mahler's Fourth Symphony.


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