The 2016-17 Buffalo Philharmonic season opens with violin superstar Joshua Bell, a known favorite.
After that, fasten your seat belt.
As the season unfolds, among the soloists Kleinhans Music Hall will welcome is Stewart Copeland, the drummer best known for his years with the Police. Copeland is playing a percussion concerto he wrote.
Also making his BPO debut is the flamboyant young organist Cameron Carpenter. Carpenter, a hotshot performer in the vaudeville mold, will be arriving with his own elaborate instrument to play Poulenc’s Organ Concerto.
And in a special event, violin legend Itzhak Perlman is presenting an evening of movie themes.
How to describe this season?
“It’s a little wild, I think,” laughed JoAnn Falletta, the orchestra’s music director. “It’s incredibly diverse. The variety of things happening. I’m excited about it. It’s full of drama.”
Some of that drama will intrigue even BPO newcomers. Mozart’s birthday in January 2017 will be celebrated with the play “Amadeus” presented in collaboration with the Irish Classical Theatre. This fall will bring a two-weekend Tchaikovsky Festival, including the 1812 Overture complete with chorus. A highlight of spring 2017 will be a narrated exploration of the orchestral music from Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, a visual-enhanced adventure that will be recorded for Naxos.
Another Naxos project involves the challenging music of the mystical Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. It includes the Symphony No. 3, “The Divine Poem,” and the celebrated Symphony No. 4, “Poem of Ecstasy.” According to BPO archives, the orchestra has never before performed either of these symphonies.
Falletta is proud that Naxos has put this music into the BPO’s hands.
“They think of us as an orchestra with big sound,” she said.
Piano fans will have reason to rejoice. A Bach birthday celebration will welcome the British keyboard virtuoso Angela Hewitt, making her first appearance in Buffalo. Kleinhans will also welcome for the first time Mark Bebbington, playing the Piano Concerto of John Ireland; and Carl Petersson, will perform a fascinating piano concerto written by Helge Evju after fragments by Edvard Grieg.
A particularly distinguished debut will take place in December, when the renowned composer Krzysztof Penderecki conducts the BPO. His appearance is the result of a visit Falletta paid with a BPO contingent to Poland in 2015. Penderecki, who wrote the score for the movie “The Shining,” will be conducting his Concerto for Violin and Cello, featuring BPO Concertmaster Dennis Kim and Principal Cellist Roman Mekinulov.
Falletta predicts that Buffalo will love the Polish maestro.
“He is the sweetest man,” she said. “There are photos where he looks very austere and remote, but he is the gentlest and friendliest man. We went to his home.”
Penderecki, 82, will be conducting Dvorak and Beethoven in addition to his double concerto.
“He chose his program – that’s what he wanted to do,” Falletta said. “It’s astonishing that he’s going to be here.” She added that the Buffalo Chamber Players, led by BPO violist Janz Castelo, will be doing a program in Penderecki’s honor.
The next season wraps up with Sir William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast.” The choral extravaganza, featuring baritone Kevin Deas, will include notes of nostalgia. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, now led by Adam Luebke, is marking its 80th anniversary in 2017. And Falletta conducted the ambitious piece in 2000, as part of her very first season with the BPO.
And just as the current season ends with a twist, so does the next season. This June, the orchestra is playing Richard Strauss’ “Alpine” Symphony, which calls for a giant alphorn. In June 2017, the final piece will be “An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise,” which features a bagpipe player.
Here is the Classics Season for 2016-17. All concerts take place at Kleinhans Music Hall and, unless otherwise noted, are conducted by JoAnn Falletta.
• 8 p.m. Sept. 17: Joshua Bell plays one of the violin concertos of Max Bruch. The evening also will have a Spanish flair, with music by De Falla, Rimsky-Korsakov and Granados.
• 8 p.m. Oct 1; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 2: Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” Suite; Piano Concerto No. 1; and Symphony No. 5. The soloist is Fabio Bidini.
• 8 p.m. Oct. 15; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16: Tchaikovsky festival continues with the “1812” Overture; the Serenade for Strings; the Rococo Variations and the Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin.”
• 10:30 a.m. Oct. 28; 8 p.m. Oct. 29: Mark Laycock conducts percussionist Stewart Copeland in Copeland’s “Tyrant’s Crush.” Also, Liszt’s “Les Preludes” and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9.
• 10:30 a.m. Nov. 11; 8 p.m. Nov. 12: Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, “Romantic,” follows the Piano Concerto in B Minor, written by Helge Evju after fragments by Edvard Grieg. Carl Petersson is soloist in this American premiere.
• 8 p.m. Nov. 19; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 20: Tianwa Yang is the soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Also, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 2, “Romantic.”
• 8 p.m. Dec. 3; 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4: Krzysztof Penderecki conducts his Concerto for Violin and Cello, with soloists Dennis Kim and Roman Mekinulov. Also, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 and Beethoven’s Overture to “The Creatures of Prometheus.”
• 10:30 a.m. Dec. 9; 8 p.m. Dec. 10: Stefan Sanders conducts “A Classical Christmas.”
• 8 p.m. Jan. 20 and 21; 2:30 p.m. Jan. 22, 2017: The BPO collaborates with the Irish Classical Theatre for “Amadeus.”
• 8 p.m. Feb. 4; 2:30 p.m. Feb. 5, 2017: Alain Lefevre is the soloist in the Piano Concerto No. 3 of Walter Mathieu. Also, Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”; Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”; and Michael Colgrass’ “As Quiet As ...”
• 8 p.m. Feb. 18; 2:30 p.m. Feb. 19, 2017: The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and soloists Deborah Selig and Darren Stokes perform Brahms’ “German Requiem.” Also, Scriabin’s Symphony No. 4, “Poem of Ecstasy.”
• 8 p.m. Feb. 25: Violinist Itzhak Perlman, in a special event, performs an evening of movie themes.
• 10:30 a.m. March 10; 8 p.m. March 11, 2017: Cameron Carpenter is the soloist in a concert featuring Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, Saint-Saens’ “Organ Symphony”; and Milhaud’s “Bull On the Roof.”
• 8 p.m. March 25; 2:30 p.m. March 26, 2017: Two Bach keyboard concertos featuring soloist Angela Hewitt. Also, Associate Conductor Stefan Sanders conducts Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides” Overture and Symphony No. 5, “Reformation.”
• 8 p.m. April 8; 2:30 p.m. April 9, 2017: John Axelrod conducts Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony. Also, Honegger’s “Pastorale d’ete” and Saint-Saens’ Violin Concerto No. 3, featuring Benjamin Beilman.
• 10:30 a.m. April 21; 8 p.m. April 22, 2017: Natasha Paremski is the pianist in Beethoven’s Concerto No. 3. Also, Scriabin’s Symphony No. 3, “The Divine Poem,” and Philip Rothman’s “Starsplitter.”
• 8 p.m. May 6; 2:30 p.m. May 7, 2017: Wagner’s “World of ‘The Ring.’”
• 10:30 a.m. May 12; 8 p.m. May 13, 2017: Christopher Wilkins conducts the Piano Concerto of John Ireland, with soloist Mark Bebbington. Also, Weber’s Overture to “Der Freischuetz,” and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2.
• 8 p.m. June 3; 2:30 p.m. June 4, 2017: Baritone Kevin Deas is the soloist in a program featuring Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast”; Elgar’s “In the South.” and Peter Maxwell Davies’ “An Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise.”