It is possible, we suppose, to overstate the significance of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall Wednesday night. Other orchestras have performed there – Albany’s and Baltimore’s also played this week – and it’s not even the BPO’s first stop on the famed stage on 57th Street. Doesn’t matter. This was very cool.
Anyone who has attended a BPO concert – or even anyone who has read about the orchestra – has an idea of this orchestra’s exceptionalism. Does it compare to the New York Philharmonic or the London Symphony Orchestra? Certainly not in worldwide fame or budget. What we do have is an extraordinarily well-tuned instrument that routinely makes Buffalo proud and is proficient enough to play on the same New York City stage that has also hosted the likes of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz and scores of others of the world’s greatest musicians.
But, we suspect, there is more than that to the pride many Buffalonians feel in the afterglow of this performance. Surely it is also the satisfaction in helping to deconstruct the image many people – in and out of Buffalo – have of this durable, down-but-never-out city. Rust Belt, yes. Occasional snow, we’ve got it. Urban blight, no doubt.
But also, a reviving waterfront, an unsurpassed trove of architectural treasures, a developing high-tech health care sector and an orchestra that can stand with the best of them – and, on Wednesday, did.
Music Director JoAnn Falletta, surveying the hall packed with Buffalonians, said, “If you have an orchestra more beloved than the BPO, I can’t imagine it.” She deserves much credit for making it so.
It was a great moment for the BPO, performing the difficult and rarely heard Symphony No. 3 by Reinhold Gliere. And it was a moment of surpassing pride for Buffalo. But, lest we get carried away, it is also worth remembering that this orchestra gets many ovations for its hometown performances, and that it deserves them all.