Niagara Gazette — On Thursday, Artpark celebrated its 40th season in style, recapturing the majesty of their grand opening in 1974 with a marvelous performance that defies description. In other words, you had to be there.
Anyone that has spent an evening with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra realizes what an amazing group of musicians they are. Under the direction of an energetic conductor, JoAnn Falletta, the orchestra delivered a flawless and majestic evening of music in support of performers, and on their own.
The evening’s hosts were former WGRZ news anchor Laurie Frey and Toronto Raptor’s sportscaster Jack Armstrong, both have strong ties to Lewiston. The chemistry between the two was fantastic as they introduced performers, spoke of the importance of the evening or even told a joke.
The evening’s music began with performances of the Canadian and American national anthems. The amount of people in attendance that were singing the Canadian anthem was a testament to the appeal of Artpark to our neighbors to the north.
The BPO began the formal part of the program with “Fanfare for the Common Man,” an appropriate beginning for an institution designed to appeal to everyone.
The first guest performer was Norman Krieger, a highly acclaimed pianist from Los Angeles. Krieger played two songs by Chopin and his playing was truly sublime and drew a tremendous response from the audience.
After intermission, the program went to new heights with a ballet performance from Silvana Vaccarelli and Sergio Neglia from Romeo and Juliet. It was the first time I have ever experienced a live ballet performance and it left me wanting more, and later in the evening Villa Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys put on a ballet performance that was just as grand.
The brightest star of the evening was Western New York native and Broadway performer Michele Ragusa.