What does the year 2013 hold for classical music? It’s tough to tell. But I know a few things I would like to see happen – or, in some cases, continue to happen.
• Let’s all hope that the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s financial health continues. This year will bring new challenges and, with luck, new triumphs. This spring, the orchestra is stepping into the national spotlight with a performance at Carnegie Hall of the massive and problematic Third Symphony of Reinhold Gliere. And then may the BPO continue to set an example for the world of how an orchestra’s management, musicians and board can work together for the artistic good of us all.
• Every year I hope Nickel City Opera continues its upward momentum. Money seems to be tighter for everyone, but the company is prevailing. This year, the company is tentatively planning on staging “Shot!,” an opera by Persis Parshall Vehar about the McKinley assassination. Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” is also reportedly in the works.
• Collaborations among groups are almost always interesting and can help build audiences. The BPO’s “Nutcracker” with the Neglia Ballet Artists, which has turned into an annual event, is a case in point. Another shining example from 2012 was the BPO’s performance with a guest organist of the accompaniment to the silent film “The Phantom of the Opera,” at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. I hope for more artistic, sometimes multimedia, collaboration.
• My hopes last year that the Statler or the Lafayette hotels would carve out space for a jazz club did not come to fruition. It probably will not. I do not blame the proprietors. If the market’s not there, it’s not there. Maybe we could see more clubs offering occasional quality music. Allen Street Hardware has a back room that features jazz bands. The Central Park Grill recently changed hands, and it would be nice if the buyers brought new life to this legendary venue.
• Speaking of jazz, the Colored Musicians Club should get its act together. The club recently held a fundraiser at Denton, Cottier and Daniels aimed toward getting a decent piano into the place, presumably for the first time since Count Basie used to play there. If the club is ever to be taken seriously as a musical venue, that piano must materialize. Also, the very excellent museum, built with public funding, should get regular hours and be promoted properly so that people can visit.
• Pope Benedict XVI is a musician – an excellent classical pianist, as I understand it – and he has been fighting a tough battle to improve the Catholic Church’s music, which has hit the skids in recent decades. Reforms are slow to reach Buffalo, but in the last couple of years, the accomplished young singing group Harmonia has performed a few Renaissance Masses in a liturgical context, something you would normally find only in a city like New York or Toronto. It’s a challenging endeavor, and a brave one. Maybe next Christmas we could have a midnight Tridentine Mass! They have one in Manhattan.