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More parent-child ties ?in the BPO are recalled

Children have a way of following their parents into the classical music business. Think of Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart. Or Johann Sebastian Bach, and his sons.

Think of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

A story in Sunday's Spotlight section of The News celebrated the recent hiring of violinist Megan Prokes. She is the daughter of BPO violinist Robert Prokes.

The Father's Day story has caused other stories of BPO father/offspring teams to come out of the burnished Kleinhans Music Hall woodwork. Clementina Fleshler, the BPO violinist who also heads the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, thought immediately of a pair of cellists. Dimitri Carapetyan, hired by then-Music Director William Steinberg for the 1954-55 season, was joined in the orchestra by his son Robert, hired in 1957 by Steinberg's successor, Josef Krips.

Both Carapetyans played in the BPO's cello section until they retired, Fleshler reports. Robert Carapetyan lives in Tonawanda.

Fleshler also came up with another example, perhaps thanks to her husband, longtime BPO violist Bernard Fleshler.

"Shuntatsu Kohno was Bernie's stand partner in the viola section and was hired by Lukas Foss in the 1967-68 season," she wrote. "His daughter, Toshiko, was hired by Michael Tilson Thomas for the 1973-74 season and played second flute for three seasons. She went on to become principal flute of the National Symphony, where she is today."

Shortly afterward, a third example came to mind.

Fleshler wrote, "Edward Gerstel, assistant principal violist, joined the orchestra in 1951-52 and played for 24 seasons. His son Alan, a violinist, joined in the 1962-63 season. He played two seasons and then went on to the Detroit Symphony."

A lucky few BPO musicians over the years could delight in their talented offspring returning to join the orchestra as eminent soloists. Carol Wincenc, the flute-playing daughter of Joseph Wincenc, the BPO's late former concertmaster, is a famous example. Violinist Eudice Shapiro, the daughter of BPO violist Ivan Shapiro, had a celebrated career in Los Angeles. Her father was in the orchestra in 1940, when she soloed in Beethoven's Violin Concerto at the 1940 concert dedicating Kleinhans Music Hall.

Such success stories show that Megan Prokes, the new violinist, continues a rich history as she follows her father. "Needless to say, everyone was very happy," said Music Director JoAnn Falletta.