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BPO's upcoming 'Carmina Burana' concert starts with a Finnish concerto

BPO Principal Trumpet Alex Jokipii recently gave the world premiere of Finnish composer Jaakko Kuusisto's Trumpet Concerto. (Robert Kirkham/News file photo)

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is planning a splash. The orchestra is taking a proven hit, Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," and pairing it with a new concerto by an old friend, Finnish composer Jaakko Kuusisto.

Kuusisto came to town in 2015 when the Philharmonic performed the United States premiere of his bright-timbred Violin Concerto during the 2015 Finn Fest. While here, he got talking with a fellow Finn, BPO Principal Trumpet Alex Jokipii. The two had been classmates together at the Sibelius Academy and had the idea of collaborating.

As a result, Jokipii recently gave the world premiere of Kuusisto's Trumpet Concerto. That performance took place in Michigan, with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra. On May 12 and 13, Jokipii will be performing the concerto at Kleinhans Music Hall, with the BPO.

The concerto shares the program with "Carmina Burana" – the musical party heard at Sabres games, in medieval battle movies, everywhere.

The BPO seems to like this piece as much as the public does, performing it fairly frequently. And with reason – it is always a good time. The last time the BPO and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus performed this Orff extravaganza, in 2011, it was so gripping and deafening and tumultuously entertaining that it still echoes in the minds of those who were there. If you were not among them, now is your chance to hear what you missed.

Thanks to a grant from the University at Buffalo Creative Arts Initiative, Kuusisto will be in town beforehand for a sort of week-long residence.

On Monday, he is giving two free talks at area libraries about the process of creating the concerto, and his friendship with Jokipii. At noon, he will speak at the Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square. At 7 p.m., he will reprise the talk at Amherst Audubon Library, 350 John Jay Audubon Parkway. If you have questions about his work, here is your chance to ask them.

At 5:30 p.m. May 11, Kuusisto will give a presentation at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at 1300 Elmwood Avenue as part of the M&T Bank Second Fridays event.

Kuusisto will also work with UB’s music composition students.

The BPO performs Kuusisto's Trumpet Concerto, and Orff's "Carmina Burana," at 8 p.m. May 12 and again at 2:30 p.m. May 13 at Kleinhans Music Hall. Kuusisto will speak one hour prior to each event as part of “Musically Speaking." The performance of the concerto will be recorded for a future release on the BPO’s house label, Beau Fleuve.

Admission is $36 to $86. Call 885-5000 for info, or visit bpo.org.

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