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Eminent Polish conductor/composer to lead BPO on Dec. 3 and 4

BUFFALO -- Poland’s most eminent classical music figure is coming to Buffalo.

Krzysztof Penderecki will guest-conduct the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at 8 p.m. Saturday Dec. 3 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 in a concert titled “Poland’s Maestro.” The centerpiece of the program is Penderecki’s own Concerto for Violin and Cello, featuring BPO Concertmaster Dennis Kim and BPO Principal Cellist Roman Mekinulov as soloists. The program also includes Beethoven’s Overture to “Creatures of Prometheus” and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.

“Maestro Penderecki  is one of the most vibrant and profound composers of our time, truly a world treasure. He has honored our city, our orchestra and our audience by accepting our invitation. The musicians and I are eager to welcome him and his wife to Buffalo,” BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta said.

Penderecki has enjoyed a five-decade career as a composer and conductor. His “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” earned the UNESCO prize. He has been awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest honor. He has earned multiple Grammy and Emmy awards, as well as recognitions from the governments of Latvia, Luxembourg, and Armenia. Many of his works touch on historical themes and were written to commemorate important anniversaries, such as the “Hymn to St. Adalbert,” commissioned for the millennial anniversary of Gdansk, and the Polish Requiem, written for the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. Others appear in noted films, such as “The Shining,” “The Exorcist,” “Children of Men,” and “Shutter Island.” He has taught and conducted all over the world.

The Buffalo Philharmonic long has championed Penderecki’s works. In 1968, they recorded his “Capriccio for Violin and Orchestra” and “De Natura Sonoris” for the Nonesuch label under the baton of Lukas Foss. In the same year, they gave “Capriccio” its New York City premiere at Carnegie Hall. BPO Principal Horn Jacek Muzyk recently performed Penderecki’s “Winterreise: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra” at a concert paying tribute to Polish composers.

This is the first time Penderecki has guest-conducted the BPO. When JoAnn Falletta conducted in Poland two years ago, she and several orchestra representatives met with Penderecki to discuss the potential appearance. With a strong and musically interested Polish population in Western New York, it was a natural connection.

Earlier in the week, the Buffalo Chamber Players will present an all-Penderecki concert. “An Evening with Krzysztof Penderecki” takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The ensemble, founded by BPO violist Janz Castelo, features many Buffalo Philharmonic musicians. Penderecki will be an honored guest at the event.

“Poland’s Maestro” takes place at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo. Tickets range from $29 to $82, with student tickets available for $11. To purchase, visit bpo.org or call (716) 885-5000. For tickets to “An Evening with Krzysztof Penderecki,” contact the Albright-Knox Art Gallery at (716) 270-8292 or visit albrightknox.org  and choose “Buffalo Chamber Players at the AK” under “Programs.”

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