The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra began the 2018 portion of the season on January 12 with a program filled with French composers.

After welcoming the crowd, principal classical conductor for the BPO Joann Falletta led the Orchestra in what she called a fairy tale with the “Suite from Pelleas at Melisande, Op 80” by Gabriel Faure. Joann’s graceful flowing movements as she conducted the piece were a perfect fit for a fairy tale work.

Principal cellist Ronan Mekinulov took center stage to perform the “Concerto No 1 in A minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op 33” by Camille Saint-Saens. Ronan is not one of those musicians who is stiff and robotic as he plays; quite the opposite, he is very animated, bobbing his head and working the bow with flair as he plays. Ronan even stamps his foot at time as he keeps the beat. After receiving a standing ovation and being called back for a bow twice, the Orchestra joined Ronan for an encore.

After the intermission, the Orchestra returned to the stage for a performance of “Iberia No 2” from “Images” by Claude Debussy.

The program concluded with perhaps the most famous work Maurice Ravel ever composed – “Bolero”. The composition that offers many instruments in the orchestra the chance to shine as they perform the theme is well known to fans of the movie “10” and original “Star Trek” series fans who frequently heard excerpts of the piece during a variety of action scenes.

As the western New York winter weather threatened to bring more snow and frigid temperatures, the French themed program by the BPO was a pleasant destraction from the cold outside.