This past Saturday night, I attended the Season Opening Gala for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall. So, what exactly is a "gala?" It's "a festive occasion, especially a lavish social event or entertainment... gay and exciting." The formula never varies. On the podium, conducting, you must have your Music Director, and we had JoAnn Falletta.
And you need a big, international star to play a concerto with the orchestra. Not just a great musician. The star must be beloved. This year the BPO had the irrepressible leprechaun, "the man with the golden flute," Sir James Galway. And the audience really dresses up. Tuxedos for the gentlemen, and gowns and jewels and fabulous hairdos for the ladies. Everyone looked, as my uncle used to say, "like a million bucks."
The bartenders worked like flying monkeys to keep up with the crowd and the buzzing of hundreds of excited conversations in the lobbies let you know that this one night was truly different.
On stage, the musicians were rested from their, admittedly short, end-of-summer vacations, and of course, dressed in their concert tails. They were excited for a number of reasons, one of which was that Kleinhans Music Hall is undergoing a renovation and much of the lower level carpeting has been removed to create a "brighter" sound, more like when the hall was commissioned in 1940. BPO violist Janz Castelo said that "Galway was the headliner, but the real star tonight was the hall itself. Kleinhans sounded great. We could really tell the difference on stage. It was like playing in a very special chamber hall."
If you missed the opening night gala of the Buffalo Philharmonic, you can get a taste of what it was like by joining us for another gala.
Tonight at 8 p.m. WNED-TV's series Live from Lincoln Center presents The Philharmonic Opening Gala with violinist Itzhak Perlman. NY Phil Music Director Alan Gilbert conducts not only Respighi's "Pines of Rome" but also his "Fountains of Rome," each one a four-part sonic blockbuster by a master orchestrator. And it wouldn't be a gala without a major star. Violin legend Itzhak Perlman will play some of his concert favorites.
If you can't watch it tonight at 8 p.m. (and you still haven't figured out how to record TV shows), it repeats very late Saturday night (actually very early Sunday morning) at 2:30 a.m.