It was a day of celebration and remembrance when Joann Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performed a program of music by Jewish composers including Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein; who though challenged did not forsake their religion but were inspired by it in their compositions.
The program opened with cellist Robert Hausmann reprising a piece by Maurice Ravel that he performed in 2018 at Auschwitz when the BPO traveled to Poland. He played the piece as a Kaddish – prayer for the dead – for his great grandmother who was one of the millions of European Jews killed at the Concentration camps during World War II.
While there was no “Fiddler on the Roof” there was a fiddler on the stage when Noah Bendix-Bagley livened up the Concert Hall with his composition “Fidl-Fantazye: A Klezmer Concerto”. The work was very reminiscent of the music from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”.
After the intermission, the BPO returned to the stage for a performance of the “Adagio” from “Symphony NO. 10 in F-sharp Major” by Gustav Mahler. Ill with a heart ailment, Mahler only finished the first (Adagio) movement for his tenth symphony. Like never calling “The Scottish Play” (Macbeth) by its name on the stage, composing a tenth symphony is thought to be a curse inviting death.
Joann Falletta and the BPO concluded the program with “Chichester Psalms for Chorus and Orchestra:. Noting that she has always wanted to perform the work with an adult – she had done the piece with children – Falletta and the BPO were joined by counter tenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus for the performance.
The world recently marked the 75th anniversary of World War II and the Camps like Auschwitz. The program of Jewish composers was a celebration of life and music along with a subtle reminder of historic events that should never be forgotten…or repeated.