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Bernadette Peters opens the BPO Pops season

The birdsong is subsiding. The racket of the cicadas is fading. Even Buffalo’s signature summer sound, the pounding of boom cars, is dropping in volume every day.

But that doesn’t mean we have to have a silent autumn.

A new sound is rising to fill the vacuum. And it’s coming from Kleinhans Music Hall.

This fall, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is at the center of an unusual lot of action. The orchestra’s classics season has already begun, and that’s only the beginning: A smorgasbord of other music has been laid out to last from now through Christmas.

The pops season begins Saturday with a concert featuring bombastic Broadway beauty Bernadette Peters.

Also on tap, like a rich Oktoberfest lager, are other events: a couple of kids’ concerts, a touch of ballet, a touch of theater, and even a freebie or two.

Let’s take a look at some of these offbeat offerings. Unless otherwise noted, all events take place in Kleinhans Music Hall. For more information on BPO events, call 885-5000.

BPO Pops

8 p.m. Saturday: A visit by Bernadette Peters isn’t just a concert; it’s an experience. Last time the Broadway singer was here, in 2008, she lay full-length on the grand piano, bathed in purple light, singing “Fever.” What will happen this year? This one-night-only event should get the Pops season off to a newsworthy start.

8 p.m. Oct. 12: “ABBA: The Hits!” Matthew Kraemer leads the BPO in this riotous extravaganza, which is also part of the “BPO Rocks!” series. It features the same band that sold out the hall three years ago. $33-$79.

10:30 a.m. Oct. 25, 8 p.m. Oct. 26: Doc Severinsen was our principal pops conductor before the late Marvin Hamlisch, and his brilliance is blinding – literally. With his sequinned suits and intermission costume changes, Severinsen could give Lance Diamond a run for his money. He will be making a glitzy return appearance with special guests yet to be announced, revisiting music that spans his long and glittering career.

8 p.m. Nov. 9: Memories light the corners of our minds – misty, water-colored memories of when Hamlisch was the BPO’s principal pops conductor. It wasn’t easy to follow Severinsen, but Hamlisch brought his own humor and warmth to the job. The BPO celebrates him with “One Singular Sensation: A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch.” Included will be hits from “A Chorus Line,” the theme from “Ice Castles” and other Hamlisch hits such as “The Way We Were.”

10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15: It’s Holiday Pops time! In a change of pace, BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta will be conducting this year’s edition of the elegant and ever-popular event. This annual gala event also has new guest stars: the internationally renowned, Buffalo-based Castellani/Andriaccio Guitar Duo.

Coming up in 2014: Cirque Musica, 8 p.m. Jan. 25; Streisand Songbook with Ann Hampton Callaway, 8 p.m. Feb. 15; the Beatles Classical Mystery Tour, also part of the “BPO Rocks!” series, 8 p.m. March 1; Chris Botti, March 15; a Tribute to Ray Charles with Ellis Hall, April 5; Big Band Salute with Matt Catingub, May 3; and Star Spangled Pops! with the BPO and BPO Chorus, 10:30 a.m. May 23 and 8 p.m. May 24.

BPO Rocks!

This BPO series is a perpetual hit, drawing new audiences into Kleinhans Music Hall and, more often than not, packing the place to the rafters. Tickets are $42-$65. The series kicked off Sept. 21 with the music of Queen. Here’s what coming:

8 p.m. Oct. 12: “ABBA: The Hits!” (See the Pops section above).

8 p.m. Nov. 8: “The Music of the Rolling Stones” finds Brent Havens conducting a tribute to the legendary and long-running British band. Incredibly, Brody Dolyniuk – Freddie Mercury in the Queen tribute – is back at the mic, this time impersonating Mick Jagger. Expect “Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Angie” and a lot more, all close to the original but also orchestrally enhanced.

Plus: The Beatles: Classical Mystery Tour, 8 p.m. March 1, 2014; The Chieftans, March 14; the Music of America, March 28; and former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm, April 25.


1 p.m. Dec. 14: “Holiday Music Under the Dome” brings the BPO to the golden dome of M&T Bank downtown – once the Buffalo Savings Bank. Enjoy the ornate surroundings as well as the glittering music that goes with this time of year.

Know the Score

Maybe you are a rock fan and “BPO Rocks!” makes you want to explore more of what the BPO has to offer you. One way to ease yourself into classical music is the BPO’s new “Know the Score” series.

At 7 p.m. on Oct. 10, Paul Ferington has arranged a “Know the Score” event around the theme of “Romeo and Juliet.” There are excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story,” based on the Shakespeare play, and from Prokofiev’s famous ballet.

Filling out the picture will be actors from Shakespeare in Delaware Park and a video production team from the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, which will offer the audience a bird’s-eye view of the orchestra.

After the concert, the audience gets the opportunity to meet and mingle with the musicians. And yes, there will be treats from Romeo and Juliet’s Bakery and Cafe.

Kids concerts

BPO Associate Conductor Matthew Kraemer conducts concerts for the kids on Sunday afternoons. Tickets are $12.

2:30 p.m. Oct. 27: The kids’ season opens with Symphonic Spooktacular. It includes the ever-popular Costume Parade. The kids don their Halloween duds and parade across the Kleinhans stage. There also will be goodies.

2:30 p.m. Dec. 8: “Jingle Bell Jam” invites kids and the grown-ups who love them to join in a celebration of light-hearted music of the season, including a carol sing-along.

Other hip events

8 p.m. Oct. 17: Zappa Plays Zappa, a watershed co-presentation of BPO Nation and 97 Rock, features the Grammy-winning Frank Zappa tribute group led by his son, Dweezil. This event, sure to draw a crowd, is part of a world tour celebrating the Zappa album “Roxy and Elsewhere.” Tickets are $45-$55. No BPO for this show; however, Dweezil Zappa will be leading a guitar master class at 3 p.m. the day of the concert.

8 p.m. Oct. 24: The Cowboy Junkies perform their album “The Trinity Session.” The BPO does not play.

8 p.m. Oct. 25: Gordon Lightfoot is lightfooting it around the country on a tour called “50 Years on the Carefree Highway.” The BPO does not play at this concert. Joining him will be his band and, of course, his 12-string acoustic guitar. Tickets are $35-$75.

8 p.m. Nov. 1: What would autumn be without a performance by a country star in the autumn of his years? Fans whisper that the older Merle Haggard gets, the better he sounds. Haggard, 76, will be backed by his own band, not the BPO. Tickets are $40-$75.