On May 8, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performed in Carnegie Hall at the invitation of a prestigious music festival, Spring For Music. As we planned for the trip, we frequently said it was akin to a football team going to the Super Bowl.
Since our return I have had many use another sports metaphor to describe our success. They say, “The BPO really hit it out of the park.” Yes, but I would say it was not just a home run, it was a grand slam!
The concert was not only an artistic and financial success, but a branding and marketing success for the region. This was accomplished through unique collaborations that ensured the impact went beyond the music. It was really a multifaceted mission, with the BPO and friends serving as ambassadors for our region. Therefore, “bases got loaded” when a number of strategies came together perfectly.
Dottie Gallagher-Cohen of Visit Buffalo Niagara arranged for cultural leaders to meet with arts and travel writers to talk about Buffalo’s cultural renaissance. The new director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Janne Siren, and Burchfield Penney Art Center Director Tony Bannon joined the BPO’s JoAnn Falletta and Dan Hart for a lunch with representatives from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Arts and Leisure Magazine and “CBS Sunday Morning,” among others.
The president of CNN News Operations, Greg D’Alba, a native Buffalonian and University at Buffalo graduate, welcomed a large group to CNN for a welcome reception where he espoused his love of the region and the importance of the arts, and spoke of fond childhood memories of the BPO at Kleinhans.
Canadian Consul General John Prato welcomed a small group to his residence for a special luncheon, where he spoke passionately about the important relationship between Buffalo and Canada and gave the BPO good wishes.
Tom Kucharski of the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise used the opportunity to meet with and entertain site selectors for corporate relocation prospects and was effusive about the great level of interest he encountered.
A preconcert reception attracted alumni from UB, Canisius College, Hilbert College, Niagara University, SUNY Buffalo State, Park School, Nardin Academy, Buffalo Seminary, Nichols School and Canisius High School, along with Buffalo Ex-Pat Network members, while Canisius College President John Hurley hosted another alumni gathering close by.
Our presenting corporate sponsor, M&T Bank, created a program in partnership with the United Way of New York that brought 340 students to the concert, many of whom had never been in Carnegie Hall nor had heard an actual orchestra.
As for the BPO, we set a Spring for Music record, selling more than 1,500 tickets to our fans, and almost bested the all-time attendance record of 2,400 for the festival with a nearly sold-out house.
When the orchestra took the stage, the auditorium erupted with cheers and the waving of the green fan flags that symbolized our support. It was nearly overwhelming for our musicians and they then gave the performance of a lifetime.
Beyond the coverage in The Buffalo News and New York Times, the performance also had a global audience as WNED streamed the concert live and New York’s WQRX broadcast the concert around the globe. Throughout the night, the BPO received message after enthusiastic message on Twitter and Facebook from across the United States and as far afield as Japan, Germany and Russia.
This was an unforgettable moment for the BPO and a grand opportunity for our community to showcase all we have to offer. We are grateful for the outpouring of individual, foundation and corporate support and we hope to see you at a BPO concert soon.
Cindy Abbott Letro is former board chairwoman of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and chairwoman of the Carnegie Hall Concert Committee.