It started in 2008 with Axeman's Jazz, an original play by artistic director Matthew LaChiusa that explored a terrifying (and true) series of murders. While the subject matter was dark, the reception was anything but, earning the fledgling American Repertory Theater of WNY its first ARTIE nomination. Since then, they've kept up their winning streak with acclaimed darker material, as well as comedies such as Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor. It's not all plays, either?A.R.T. has explored the work of celebrated composer Michael John LaChiusa, a multiple Tony-nominee, native son, and sharer of the artistic director's family tree.
Though playing 120 concerts a year is a dream for some musicians, it's a reality for members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. The classical musicians perform concerts at their home base, Kleinhans Music Hall, as well as throughout the U.S. In doing so, they introduce listeners to music ranging from Tchaikovsky to Duke Ellington, a task they've been up to since the orchestra's founding in 1934. In addition to performing live, they've also released a number of CDs that pay homage to George Gershwin and Bob Dylan, the famous triangle player.
Beloved boy bands New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys rev the engines of adoration among droves of fans with their poptastic summer tour. New Kids on the Block has been plucking heartstrings and handcrafting harmonies since 1986, combining a collection of international hits such as "Hangin' Tough" and "Step by Step" with five-part choreography and fashionable duds. Following in their footsteps, the Backstreet Boys began blowing up charts in the '90s, producing a songbook replete with favorites such as "I Want It That Way," "All I Have to Give," and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." The NKOTBSB Tour brings both acts together for a songful extravaganza, forming the more perfect union prophesied nearly 50 years ago by the Constitution. The May 25 concert also includes the vocal virtuosity of special guest and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, adding to an ear-pleasing stew of dulcet melodies sure to soothe the most savage beast or most irascible mail carrier.
Rusted Root is a six-member jam-centric rock band that transcends genres with influences from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and parts of space still unidentified. With more than 3 million albums sold worldwide, Rusted Root has been crushing live shows with an energetic stage presence and incredible sound since their 1992 debut. The talented sound architects might blast eardrums with the high-paced jam "Ecstasy", soulfully bring the crowd "Back to the Earth", and perhaps even shindig on stage with the crowd favorite "Send Me on My Way", which happens to be NASA's choice as "wake-up" music for the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.
Truly a community organization, the Penfield Symphony Orchestra's volunteer musicians take breaks from their lives and careers to treat fellow citizens to masterpieces from the classical repertoire. Music Director David Harman leads the group, showcasing the skills that have placed him in front of such esteemed ensembles as the Cincinnati Symphony, the Shanghai Conservatory Symphony, and the Orchestra of the Spring Festival of Contemporary Music in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
It all started with a celebration 200 years in the making. In 1976, Diocesan Festival Chorus conductor Virginia Hogan was asked to prepare a concert dedicated to the nation's Bicentennial. Once she began looking, she found talent all around her, and from the community, she amassed a chorus of 40 voices to ring out in celebration of the nation's founding.
Later that year, a small orchestra joined forces with the group for a traditional performance of Handel's Messiah, and the ensemble that would become Genesee Valley Orchestra and Chorus was officially born. Their ranks soon swelled to more than 100 singing members and one quiet one who's allowed to just wave a stick around. Simultaneously, their repertoire expanded. It now includes not just hymns and oratorios but also spirituals, show tunes, and traditional folk songs.