Buffalo's past and present serve as the dominant theme for the 2014-2015 Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra season.
The BPO's season -- for both its classical and pops series -- will feature a mix of Buffalo-themed shows and a few first-time collaborations for the orchestra.
"If there is a theme to the season, it was let's find as many connections and collaborations to the orchestra and Buffalo as possible," said JoAnn Falletta, BPO music director and principal conductor.
Some are obvious. Others, less obvious.
The classics season, presented by M&T Bank, begins with a Rochester native, opera singer Renee Fleming, starring in the Sept. 13 opening night gala. Fleming, whose mother still teaches at the Eastman School of Music, sang the National Anthem at Sunday's Super Bowl.
Other classics highlights include the Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 return of former BPO conductor Maximiano Valdes and an evening of Polish compositions featuring the orchestra's Jacek Muzyk on French horn. The BPO will collaborate with the Irish Classical Theatre and Lehrer Dance for a weekend's worth of productions featuring Moliere's "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
In addition, the orchestra is collaborating with the Burchfield-Penney Art Gallery, the University at Buffalo and Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries for a weekend-long series featuring the compositions of Charles Ives on April 11 and April 12.
"We have so many partners all over the region, it is always interesting to do things like this together," Falletta said.
In all, there are 17 traditional classical music programs in the new season.
Under the category of less-obvious Buffalo connections, the orchestra is playing back-to-back weekends on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 and Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 featuring pieces of Russian composer and pianist Sergi Rachmanioff. Rachmanioff played a series of concerts in 1940 at Kleinhans Music Hall -- three years before he died. One of his last compositions, the "Symphonic Dances," was written in Buffalo while he was staying at the Lenox Hotel, Falletta said.
Under the terms of its recording contract with the Naxos label, the BPO will be recording two pieces by Florent Schmitt -- "The Haunted Palace" on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 and "Anthony and Cleopatra Suites 1 & 2" on March 7 and March 8.
"Hopefully, we created a good mix," Falletta said. "One of the good things about the Buffalo audiences is that they are so open and receptive to new musical discoveries. They are not frightened off by newer pieces."
On the Pops concerts schedule, presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, the selections include "Glee" start Will Schuester on Sept. 27, pianist Kevin Cole playing George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" on Nov. 8, singer Ben Vereen on Jan. 31 and the music of James Bond on May 2.
In all, there a dozen Pops concerts spread through the season.
"Pops-wise, it is a very creative season," Falletta said. "People will get to see the orchestra in different settings."