What ought the year 2014 to bring? Let’s make some wishes and dreams.
1. I hope to continue to see interesting programming at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
The new year starts out great guns Jan. 17 with what promises to be a fascinating performance of “Mozart and Salieri” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. This one-act opera, written in 1897 and based on a poem by the Russian poet Pushkin, was “Amadeus” before “Amadeus.” It epitomizes the best thing about the BPO’s programming, which is how the orchestra seeks out music from the past that has become, for whatever reason, unfamiliar, and deserves a new listen. It’s a reason I look forward to the announcement of the next season, which usually hits in February or March.
2. Creativity across the board, while keeping in mind what people might like to hear.
Instead of Handel’s “Messiah” or Mozart’s “Requiem” – which are tremendous, but we hear them a lot – why not Mendelssohn’s “St. Paul” or Bach’s Mass in B Minor, or Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass (my favorite)? The BPO could shake things up more with its Holiday Pops concert. Tradition is fine at Christmas time, but too much repetitiveness has been a problem.
3. Vocal music.
I love German lieder, songs by Schubert, Brahms, Strauss, Mahler, Schumann, etc. It’s not a tiny niche market. A lot of people around the world love this music. But it’s something we hear almost nothing of in Buffalo. We have heard so little of it for so long that I would not think to mention it at all – except there is a concert coming up on the Friends of Vienna concert series, with tenor David MacAdam singing Schubert’s beautiful song cycle “Die Schoene Muellerin.” It’s March 16. I’ve had it on my calendar for months.
Could we see a few other recitals like this? And don’t feel obliged to give equal time to French songs, or new songs, or songs in English, or whatever. The pendulum has swung so far away from Mozart, Beethoven and the German Romantics that now they are actually being shortchanged.
4. The BPO’s new “Know the Score” concerts start at 7 p.m. on occasional Thursdays and last about an hour.
The idea of streamlined concerts is gaining traction around the country, and concert organizers outside the BPO might want to think about it. Long speeches by an emcee and/or long intermissions (why not have a reception afterward instead?) can make for a tiring evening. More experimentation might help grow audiences.
5. Speaking of growing audiences, offbeat, informal venues is a trend I like.
Classical music has been cropping up in places like the Pausa Art House and the Darwin Martin House. It can be fun to think outside concert halls and churches.