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Ives Festival in The Buffalo News

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Charles Ives was an American original – an immensely successful insurance executive who wrote music on the side and became, some maintain, America’s greatest composer. His music is a unique, sometimes a mad mix of German romanticism and the sounds from the America that he knew – anything from Stephen Foster songs to Yankee hymns.

His songs can be achingly lovely, sometimes somewhat in the manner of Brahms. But Ives also had, as Leonard Bernstein pointed out, a wicked sense of humor. 

This weekend, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra presents “Charles Ives: An American Maverick” at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Kleinhans Music Hall. The multimedia presentation, written and produced by Joseph Horowitz, involves video, words and pictures in addition to music. 

BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta will lead the BPO in five songs by Ives orchestrated by John Adams and sung by baritone William Sharp; “The Alcotts,” a tribute to “Little Women” from the Concord Symphony; and “The Unanswered Question.” The concert ends with the extroverted, romantic Symphony No. 2.

Admission to the BPO concert is $34.50-$85.50. 

Other entities are partnering with the BPO to turn Buffalo into a hive of Ives activity. 

• At noon Thursday, in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library’s Central Branch, Horowitz will speak on “Mark Twain and Charles Ives.” Free.

• At 8 p.m. Thursday in Kleinhans Music Hall’s Mary Seaton Room, Sharp and pianist Alison D’Amato are giving a recital, “Ives and American Popular Song.” Free.

• At 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Burchfield Penney Art Center, pianist Eric Huebner performs Ives’ “Concord” Sonata. Nancy Weekly offers a slide presentation on “Ives and Thoreau,” and Sharp serves as reader. $10.

• At 7 p.m. Sunday in the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Harmonia Chamber Singers are performing music from various eras, including a tribute to the spirit of Ives. Admission is by donation.

• At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, UB’s Slee Sinfonietta presents “Ives and Beyond,” a performance conducted by Brad Lubman and featuring mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley. The concert takes place in Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. $15.

For info on BPO and Ives Festival events, call 885-5000.