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BPO's Bernstein wows them in Warsaw

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's tour in Poland has yielded many memorable moments. One instance in Katowice especially charmed the orchestra's music director, JoAnn Falletta.

"As we left the empty hall in Katowice late last night after the reception, we passed one lone janitor cleaning up," she said. "He was singing Bernstein's 'Somewhere,' from our Symphonic Dances, to himself."

In Poland, the BPO is playing Gershwin's Concerto in F, with pianist Conrad Tao as soloist, and Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story."

The all-American program seemed to catch on everywhere. If it charmed them in Katowice, it also wowed them in Warsaw. Their performance March 20 at Warsaw's Beethoven Easter Festival was the centerpiece of their tour.

"The big Warsaw moment came and went in a flurry and it was a tremendous night for the BPO," said Dan Hart, the orchestra's executive director.

The BPO's dapper brass.


JoAnn Falletta in her dressing room.

Hart continued: "The Philharmonia Hall seemed to fit us like a glove — the orchestra seemed right at home and responded in kind. I sat with Maestro (Krzysztof) Penderecki and he said many times how good the orchestra sounded. One can tell that he has a very high status in the country as he got a standing ovation after we performed his Adagio - the applause for him went in for a long time."

The BPO prepares to play in Warsaw.

"I was trying to gauge the response to our Gershwin and Bernstein by the 'head bobbing' quotient and there was a lot of it —-and some toe-tapping around me," Hart said. "I heard only positive comments, and many could not stop talking about how great the concert was afterward."

From Warsaw, the BPO traveled on March 21 to Katowice to perform a sold-out concert at the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall. Completed in 2014, it is the home of one of Poland’s leading symphonic orchestras.

The trip to Katowice was a four-hour drive. The orchestra was into the "eat, sleep, perform" part of the tour, BPO staff pointed out. They were slated to arrive in Katowice at 2 p.m. An early warm-up bus left the hotel at 4:30 p.m. The next bus was at 6 p.m., and the concert began at 7:30 p.m.

The schedule in Lublin was equally hectic. The March 22 Lublin concert, at the Centre for the Meeting of Cultures, concludes the BPO's tour. After that, the musicians finally catch a break. They will get to enjoy one last afternoon and evening in Warsaw on Friday, with nothing to do but explore and have fun until departure.

Who knows -- they might get to do it all over again. That is a possibility, Hart suggested.

He said: "The festival organizers were very very happy and are already talking about a return engagement."




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