Krzyzstof Penderecki has been called the most significant Polish composer since Chopin. He has traced a unique path, having abandoned the avant garde of his early years in favor of a more traditional, tonal form. Much of his music has a certain darkness, to the extent that it can be heard in horror movies including "The Shining" and "The Exorcist." His brooding sacred music is revered by many. They include a Polish Requiem that commemorates such figures as Pope John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest killed by the Nazis.
BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta met Penderecki in 2015 when a BPO contingent visited Europe. The BPO team was impressed by Penderecki's good humor and accessibility and invited him and his wife to visit Buffalo. And it has come to pass. On Dec. 3 and 4, the 83-year-old Penderecki will make his first appearances at Kleinhans Music Hall. The centerpiece of the program is his Concerto for Violin and Cello, featuring BPO Concertmaster Dennis Kim and BPO Principal Cellist Roman Mekinulov as soloists.
"It's a huge, massive work, with not only me and Roman but the orchestra being highlighted," Kim told The News. "It's different from how it would sound on radio or CD. You have to hear it live. I encourage people to come out and give it a chance. I promise that Roman and I will give 100 percent."
The composer will conduct the concert, which includes Beethoven's light-filled overture to "The Creatures of Prometheus" and Dvorak's Symphony No. 7. Penderecki, by the way, is one of the few maestros who conducts with his left hand. That is only one of many things to observe during the course of what promises to be a momentous occasion.
The concerts take place at 8 p.m. Dec. 3 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in Kleinhans Music Hall. Admission is $29-$82, with student tickets available for $11. Call 885-5000.