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Violinist Rachel Lee Priday adds glamour to BPO Russian program

Violinist Rachel Lee Priday already has a dramatic history with Buffalo. In 2001, at age 13, she was the soloist with the Orchard Park Symphony, playing Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1. In 2013, in her early 20s, she returned to Buffalo on the spur of the moment to fill in for violinist Chloe Hanslip, who wasn’t feeling well. She reprised the Paganini and brought the house down.

A graduate of Harvard University and the New England Conservatory of Music, Priday is the scheduled soloist this weekend with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She will be playing the spiky Violin Concerto No. 1 by Prokofiev. The conductor is the eminent bow-tie-sporting Leon Botstein, the longtime president of Bard College.

The program is full of quirks. It opens with Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture, a piece that needs no introduction. And it ends with Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 in A. This is Shostakovich’s last symphony, written in 1971. Like a lot of Shostakovich’s music, it is a blend of darkness and humor. Shostakovich uses the orchestra with extreme creativity. A witty flute solo opens the first movement, and later come violin solos, a haunting brass chorale, a percussion toccata, warm interludes of serenity, and other varied ingredients, all pulling emotions in different directions. Shostakovich also quotes liberally from other masters. Listen for hints of Mahler, Wagner and, most entertainingly, “William Tell.”

The concert takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle). Tickets are $34.50-$85.50. For information, call 885-5000.

– Mary Kunz Goldman

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