by Ed Healy

VivaldiBuffalo’s annual Viva Vivaldi Festival got underway last night in the newly opened Buffalo Religious Arts Center in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood. What a fitting setting for Antonio Vivaldi’s soul-stirring sonatas and concertos! Last night’s program marked the start of the 31st installment of this immensely popular Buffalo musical event and the full house did not leave disappointed. Various members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra took turns stepping into the spotlight and offering listeners musicality of the highest caliber.

Festival founder and violinist Marylouise Nanna got things off to a delightful start with the help of BPO violinist Ansgarius Aylward on Vivaldi’s Concerto in D Minor for two violins, strings and cembalo. What a treat. The interplay of the two violinists was sublime, filling the former St. Francis Xavier Church with gorgeous sounds and raising expectations for the program to come. What followed was a masterful tour of baroque masterworks by Vivaldi and his contemporaries Tomaso Albinoni and Giovanni Bonocini. In fact, it was Bonocini’s Sinfonia No. 10 in D Major for two trumpets that provided the highlight in an evening filled with them. BPO trumpeters Alex Jokipii and Geoffrey Hardcastle were mesmerizing as they hit notes that were high, bright, light and clear, infusing the former sanctuary with the joy that comes from music performed at the highest level. Bravo Ars Nova Musicians Chamber Orchestra and special guests!

The Viva Vivaldi Festival continues on Nov. 8 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 373 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo; Nov. 15 at First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle, Buffalo; and Nov. 22 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1080 Main Street, Buffalo. All concerts begin at 6:30 pm. Admission is $10.

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