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Viva Vivaldi celebrating a fresh, festive new start

Viva Vivaldi, a Western New York tradition for more than 35 years, starts a new season on Sunday.

This year’s announcement was classic. “Greetings Ars Nova Concertgoers,” began the notice – typed, as history dictates, on a typewriter. “Earlier we had the Rolling Stones, next comes Paul McCartney, soon to be followed by ‘Viva Vivaldi’ with the Ars Nova Musicians. What more could local music lovers want?”

What more indeed?

Viva Vivaldi, an annual festival featuring the Ars Nova Musicians and their leader, Marylouise Nanna, always packs its chosen churches. Last year, it drew a healthy crowd even in the midst of the infamous November snowstorm.

“That weather event takes the cake for being the most difficult ever,” organizers reminisced, announcing the new season. “The musicians on the north side of town couldn’t understand all the fuss, while those on the south side were marooned! In the end, however, all worked out well.”

It always does.

Viva Vivaldi is more than a concert series. It is a focal point of local pride. Nanna is a BPO first violinist whose conducting achievements were chronicled in the documentary “La Maestra in the House.” She lives in the same house where her grandparents, immigrants from Italy, raised their six children. Educated in an era when women conductors were almost unheard of, she created her own opportunity by founding and guiding the Ars Nova Musicians. Her humor and welcoming spirit go a long way toward fueling the series’ success.

Many of Nanna’s musicians also perform with her in the BPO. Soloists sometimes include young, up-and-coming talent.

This year, Viva Vivaldi’s 37th season, audiences can look forward to not only the music of Antonio Vivaldi, the Venetian priest who gives the festival its name, but other Baroque composers, known as Vicarious Visionaries. Occasionally other music is tossed in to add spice to the mix. You might hear some Mozart, or Mendelssohn, or even a contemporary piece.

A rarity this year is that one concert takes place in St. Michael’s Church, which has not played host to Viva Vivaldi in years. People who attend that downtown concert are invited to park in the adjacent M&T lot, and to tell the attendant you are going to the concert at St. Michael’s.

As always, all Viva Vivaldi concerts take place on Sundays, and all start at 6:30 p.m.

Here is the schedule:

• Nov. 1: St. Joseph University Church, 3269 Main St.

• Nov. 8: Holy Angels Catholic Church, 348 Porter Ave.

• Nov. 15: St. Michael’s Catholic Church, 651 Washington St. This concert features the Buffalo Suzuki Strings.

• Nov. 22: First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle.

Admission is $12. For info, call 662-3598.


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