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Diocese to close 175th anniversary celebration with free BPO concert


The yearlong celebration of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo’s 175th anniversary is concluding this month. To bring the celebration to its end, the diocese is welcoming the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra into St. Joseph Cathedral, where on April 23 at 7:30 p.m. it will perform a concert.

JoAnn Faletta

“Oh, we’re very excited. It will be quite different. It will be probably more resonant because of the way the cathedral was constructed,” said BPO Music Director and Conductor JoAnn Faletta. “That’s why people wrote music for the churches themselves, because the sound was so amazing. And to hear that music, while you see the physical beauty of the church and the sanctity of the church, I think it will make all of those pieces glow even more as we play them, and as people hear them.”

The concert is free to the public. However, because seating will be limited, a ticket will be required for entry. To apply for a free ticket, log on to the diocesan website, or call 716-847-5559.

The concert will open with a performance of Canzon Septimi Toni No. 1 by Giovanni Gabrieli. It’s a piece, Faletta explains, that is quite relevant to the Catholic Church.

“Gabrieli worked for St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. And because of the magnificence of that church, he wrote music that was antiphonal,” she said. “He was the one who had an idea of putting brass players in different balconies of the church. And the effect was electrifying, to have the brass resounding throughout the entire church playing at each other from different directions.”

Other selections will include Handel’s “Water Music,” Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings,’ Bach’s Concerto for Violin in A Minor, and Mozart’s Symphony Number 29.

The Catholic Church, for centuries, has been an important patron of the arts, both visual and musical. Composers including Mozart wrote Masses. Antonio Vivaldi, before he created his famed “Four Seasons” and many other works, was an ordained Catholic priest who composed and taught music to the girls and young women who lived in the orphanage where he was assigned.

This is just a fraction of the Buffalo Philharmonic string section. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

So how does Faletta’s own Catholic faith influence and inspire her work?

“It inspires me in the way composers have received a gift from God, really, to be able to write what they want,” she said. “Every day I’m in the middle of this music, thinking of the inspiration that they received. Frankly, it would be impossible for anyone, I think, not to believe in God. When you hear what He enables men and women to write, not only to write music, but to paint, to understand, to discover, the gifts that He’s given us are so amazing.”

It’s been a busy spring for Faletta and the BPO. They recently completed a series of concerts in Florida. This upcoming concert in Buffalo will be an exciting homecoming for Faletta, in more ways than one. The cathedral also happens to be her home parish.

“I live close by, so that’s the church that I go to on Sundays,” Faletta said. “It’s an amazing milestone in the Catholic Diocese here, 175 years of this beautiful community, this Catholic community, it’s something very special.”

(Below, you may listen to Michael Mroziak reporting for WNY Catholic Audio.)


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