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May 14, 2015 - 10:54am
Event Date and Time: 
May 16, 2015 -
11:00am to 2:00pm
This Saturday, May 16th, the Holland Land Office Museum and the Batavia International Peace Garden are celebrating a joint event! The Peace Garden's annual flag raising will take place at 11:00 am with speaker State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and the St. Joseph's Brass Ensemble providing patriotic music. At 1:00 pm, the Holland Land Office Museum will be burying its Bicentennial Time Capsule and keynote speakers include Genesee County historian Michael J. Eula and City of Batavia historian Larry Barnes.
May 10, 2015 - 9:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Chorale, arts, music, elba.

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Photos from yesterday's rehearsal of the Genesee Chorale. 

Here's a press release about the upcoming performance:

On Sunday May 17 at 3 p.m. at Elba MS/HS Auditorium, the Genesee Chorale will present its Spring Season, “Music in Motion.” In the past, the Chorale has shared the stage with other musicians, ranging from a full orchestra to other chorale groups and soloists. This time, Director Ric Jones thought to try something entirely new: why not share the stage with live dancers? The Genesee Chorale Board applauded the notion and unanimously gave the go-ahead, and Jones went from there.

He first approached Dan Doctor, of Medina’s West Side Academy, asking him, “So…what do you think of choreographing a show entirely to live chorale music?” And Doctor responded quickly in the affirmative: “Yes!  We’re in.” And after reviewing the repertoire, he committed his dancers to six songs.

They weren’t the only ones. Dancers from Batavia’s Divine Dance, directed by Erin Martin, were in as well, happy to join the Genesee Chorale in such a unique endeavor. Though May is a busy season for every performing group, they were pleased to share some of their best performers to feature in “Music in Motion.” And finally, the Greycliffe Quartet, a renowned string ensemble from Buffalo, committed to accompany the singers, too.

The Genesee Chorale is accompanied on piano by Doug Hanson. The concert will also feature soloists Mark Christenson, Rachel Chrostowski, Janine Fagnan, Yvonne Freeman (also featured as a flutist), Merry Lou Holley, Carl Schoonover, Heather Lovelace, and Norm Woodworth.

Presale tickets are $8 and are available online at www.geneseechorale.com. Tickets will also be available at the door for $10.

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May 6, 2015 - 1:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, arts, batavia, Richmond Memorial Library.

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Alec R. Sass, a sophomore at Clarence High School, performed a 45-minute bagpipe show at the Richmond Memorial Library last night. In all, 50 people attended the performance, which included the songs "Scots Wha Hae and "Amazing Grace."

Photos submitted by Craig Gillard.

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April 24, 2015 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, schools, education, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame High School hosted its annual spring concert at the school Thursday night with jazz ensemble and concert choir performing such pieces as the "Overture of the Magic Flute," highlights from "Harry Potter," Disney movie tunes and a portion of Pachelbel's "Canon in D." Theresa Kehl is conductor of both the ensemble and the choir.

April 11, 2015 - 4:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors hosted a farewell luncheon at GO ART! this afternoon for Raffaele Ponti, the musical director and conductor of the orchestra for 18 years who will conduct his final concert with the GSO tomorrow.

The luncheon was attended by board members and several longtime orchestra members, including Helen Grapka, pictured above with Ponti and his daughter, Sofia.

Sofia is holding the violin Grapka played for 46 years with GSO. She sold it to the Ponti family, along with the violin of her late husband, John, when she retired from music a few years ago. Sofia will play it during her featured performance at tomorrow's concert.

Grapka is the last surviving founding member of GSO.

In the 1940s, she and her husband played with a small orchestra organized by a local man who wanted to be a conductor each Jan. 1 at the old folks home in Bethany. At the 1947 show, Helen and John had a conversation with two members of their string quartet and decided they should start a local orchestra.

The GSO's first concert was later that year, in November, at the old Dipson Theater. Some 1,400 people attended and hundreds more were turned away at the door. Grapka remembers men showing up in tuxedos and the women dressed in long gowns and minks.

From the beginning, the orchestra attracted the finest musicians in the area and had a dozen first violinists that first season.

John Grapka was musical director at the New York State School for the Blind and after teaching at a public school for six years, Helen taught music at the School for the Blind for 20 years.

She's proud that what she and her husband started has lasted into the 21st Century.

"If anything ever happens and it all falls apart, it will never happen again," Grapka said. "It's important to keep it going because it's such an important cultural thing for the community."

Tomorrow's concert is at 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

Ponti with an award presented to him by Board President Paul Saskowski and Board Member Roxanne Choate. 

Below are pictures from yesterday's rehearsal at Batavia High School. Dave Mancini is also performing with the orchestra tomorrow. The Rochester resident will perform on some of his own compositions, including "A Piece for Him," which he wrote and dedicated to his father. Members of the Student String Workshop (featured in some of the photos below) will also perform with the orchestra.

April 9, 2015 - 11:53am
posted by Holland Land Office in history, music, Holland Land Office Museum, civil war, live music.
Event Date and Time: 
April 10, 2015 -
7:00pm to 9:00pm

The 2015 Concert Series at the Holland Land Office Museum continues Friday, April 10th, with "A Night of Southern Music". Returning again are Dave Armitage and Dona LaValle, along with newcomer Al Capurso. Tickets are just $8.00 per person and can be purchased in advance or at the door.

 

April 9, 2015 - 11:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

Jonathan Jaeger, music instructor at Roxy's Music in Batavia, practices with students Lucia Sprague, John Patt and Kirk Ellison. The students are preparing for Sunday's performance with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra of the "1812 Overture" and "Concerto Grosso."

Showtime is 4 p.m. at Batavia High School.

The concert will also feature drummer Dave Mancini and his original compositions of "A Peace For Him" and  "Symphony of Peace." 

It is also the final concert under the direction of Conductor Raffaele Ponti.

Photo submitted by Debbie Patt.

April 8, 2015 - 6:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Batavia Concert Band, music.

Press release:

The Batavia Concert Band’s 91st season of music-making will run again this year with free public concerts in Batavia’s Centennial Park on July 1, 8, 15, 22, and July 29, as well as the ever-popular July 4 "Picnic in the Park" sponsored by GO-ART!

The Batavia Concert Band’s repertoire is wide-ranging in origin, period and style: marches, Big Band and swing numbers, popular songs from musicals and movies, jazz and rock favorites arranged for band, classical adaptations, fun songs for kids of all ages, and everything in between.

The Band consists of 45-50 brass, woodwind and percussion players ranging from talented local high school students to 60-year veterans. Many have professional experience; the rest are advanced amateur musicians. All love to play.

This year’s conductor will be John Bailey, instrumental music director at Lyndonville Central School. The July 1 and July 4 Picnic in the Park concerts will be conducted by David Keller.

Founded in the early 1920s, the Batavia Concert Band has brought musical pleasure to the region every year except during World War II. The Band currently enjoys financial support from the NY State Council on the Arts via GO-ART!, concert sponsors, program advertisers, and individual patrons. The City of Batavia supplies chairs for musicians. The Band also sponsors 50-50 raffles at every concert and a season-long 50-50 raffle. Individuals interesting in supporting the Band should contact a Board member at any concert.

Downbeat for regular season concerts is 7 p.m., Wednesday evenings, in Centennial Park, Batavia. (* In the event of rain, concerts will move to Genesee Community College. Notices will be posted at the NW corner of Centennial Park and announced on WBTA radio AM1490, posted on http://TheBatavian.com, and the Batavia Daily News Web site, http://www.thedailynewsonline.com)

All concerts are free to the public of all ages. Light refreshments are available. Bring the family, some friends, lawn chairs or a blanket… and enjoy!

For more information on the Band, how to sponsor, etc., see http://bataviaconcertband.net. We’re also on Facebook!

April 7, 2015 - 2:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Symphony Orchestra.

Nationally renowned drummer and composer Dave Mancini joins the Genesee Symphony Orchestra on Sunday afternoon in a performance that will include popular pieces such as "Caravan" and the world premier of Mancini's own "Symphony of Peace."

The 4 p.m. performance at Batavia High School will be the last GSO concert under the direction of Conductor Raffaele Ponti.

Ponti's daughter, Sofia Ponti, will also be featured on violin.

Mancini composed "Symphony of Peace" and dedicated it to his father, a World War II veteran.

The Rochester resident is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and has performed with Chuck Mangione, Rosemary Clooney, Maureen McGovern, Joe Williams, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Bop Hope, as well as Doc Severinsen, the Boston Pops, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, New York Pops, Vancouver Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and the Milwaukee Symphony.

Other pieces in the concert include Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," Vivaldi's "La Primavera," Fiesta Latina, Concerto Grosso by Antonio Vivaldi, the "1812 Overture."

There will also be a performance by participants in this year's string workshop.

Tickets are available at GO ART!, Roxy's Music, Batavia Senior Center and the Bank of Castile branch in Le Roy, and are $15 for adults, $7 for students, $10 for seniors and $35 for a family with children 12 and under.

Photos are from Monday's rehearsal.

March 25, 2015 - 10:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, entertainment, darien lake.

With David Lee Roth back in the fold, a new live album, and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Van Halen is about to hit the road for a tour that will include a stop in Genesee County.

The legendary rockers will play Darien Lake on Aug. 25.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd will open the show, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., April 4.

For more information, visit LiveNation.com.

March 16, 2015 - 6:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, alexander, Emily Helenbrook.

It's a long way from Alexander, New York, to the Metropolitan Opera House, much further than the 536 miles measured on a Google map, but it's the road Emily Helenbrook has traced in her dreams nearly all her life.

At age 20, Helenbrook is building the resume that just might carry her from small town to big city, including a sixth engagement March 27 and 28 with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

A student at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Helenbrook's aqua eyes glimmer when she talks about what she loves. 

"I'm obsessed with classical music," Helenbrook said. "I can't get enough of it. Even at Eastman, where everybody loves music and that's what they want to do with their lives, I'm still the one who is constantly listening to more music and I love it. My grandpa was the same way. Music was his life and seeing him as I grew and grew into being a musician, I saw how much he was devoted and I wanted to be like that."

That love of classical music began at home. Arias and etudes weren't something she was introduced to. It was what she was born into.  

Her grandfather, Mathew Tworek was an original member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violinist, and master musician and a member for more than 60 years. Her aunt, Adrienne Gryta, was a vocalist and frequent performer with the BPO and Helenbrook's first vocal instructor.

Growing up, all three of the Helenbrook children were introduced to music. Older brother Jason, now a local auctioneer, played flute and twin brother Eric played piano.  

For Emily, music quickly surpassed the hobby stage, however, and became the driving passion of her life.

Passion is what carries her through the hard work of learning her craft and building a career.

People tend to think, Helenbrook acknowledges, that singers just get up and sing, but there's so much more that goes into it. Learning the intricacies of vocal technique is grueling and takes years to master. They also need to research repertoire, study languages and diction, and for performance they must learn more than their own parts, but know and understand other characters, the history of the period and the story.

And that's just the singing part of her life. There are the academics that go into earning her music degree as well as her second degree in political science.

None of that is daunting, though, Helenbrook said.

"For a break, it's my practice time," Helenbrook said. "I don't think of practice as a chore. It's still fun for me, even though it's hard work, it's still fun."

When she needs to get away, she comes home, where there's more space, more quiet and more green.

"I really do appreciate being home," Helenbrook said. "Being in the country is a good way to escape the humdrum of city life. I can't stand it after a while and coming back home to something more simple is really important with the sort of speed of classical music and trying to be a musician."

Success came early for Helenbrook. At 17 she won the Barry/Alexander International Voice Competition, which led to a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and an afternoon-long voice lesson with her childhood idol, four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming.

"She has the most beautiful voice and she's such a nice person," Helenbrook said. "She's a great role model for young singers. I always dreamed maybe some day I could sing for her and maybe she could teach me some things and that's exactly what happened and it was in her house in New York City. It was the craziest thing."

Performing at Carnegie was also a crazy thing, she said.

"That was an out-of-body experience that I don't remember as much as I would like," Helenbrook said. "It was kind of like a dream, in every respect."

It's hard to believe she won't make it back to that great venue. Talented, beautiful, hard working, passionate about her art and establishing the connections that build careers, Helenbrook is doing more than just dreaming.

She also understands, there are no guarantees, which explains the second degree in political science and her plans for law school after graduation. It's a long way from anywhere to the Met.

"Even really, really good singers don't make it," Helenbrook said. "I've seen people at the Met auditions and they're really good, but nothing happens because a lot of it is luck and being the right place at the right time. I know that and I'm trying to be realistic about it. I know what I want. I want to be a singer and I want to at least try to make a career of it, but it's also important to have a backup plan."

For more on Helenbrook's upcoming performance with the BPO and to purchase tickets, click here.

March 15, 2015 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Attica, arts, music, entertainment.

Photos by Jim Burns.

The first of two All-County Music Festival concerts was held Saturday in Attica, with student musicians from throughout Genesee and Wyoming counties participating.

The concert is the culmination of a lot of hard work by students, including an audition process that also contributes to the grades of many students in music classes.

The next show is at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Batavia Middle School. Tickets are $4 at the door.

March 14, 2015 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in music, entertainment, hlom, st. james.

Local musicians Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard, as "No Blarney," performed a show of new and traditional Irish music Friday evening at St. James as a fundraiser for the Holland Land Office Museum.

March 10, 2015 - 3:10pm
posted by Holland Land Office in history, music, Holland Land Office Museum, irish music.
Event Date and Time: 
March 13, 2015 -
7:00pm to 9:00pm

The Holland Land Office Museum kicks of its 2015 concert series with a night of music from the Emerald Isle.  

Local musicians Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard perform as "No Blarney", singing and strumming all of your favorite Irish ballads and drinking songs!

NOTICE: The event will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 East Main Street in Batavia.  

Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Admission is $8.00 per person.  All proceeds go to the Holland Land Office Museum.  

March 3, 2015 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, entertainment, darien lake, Darien.

Press release:

This summer Darien Lake will host three special in-park concerts presented by TOPS Markets that are free with a Season Pass, a hotel or camping package or daily admission. The free concerts will take place in the Ride of Steel Plaza and include performances by –  Disney Channel’s Debby Ryan & The Never Ending; the social media hip-hop star Jake Miller; and Canadian singer-songwriter, Shawn Mendes.

“With roots in the Disney Channel, Kissmass Bash and beyond, these stars resonate with many families across Western New York,” said Chris Thorpe, Darien Lake General Manager. “Along with two new rides, these concerts are part of our plan to provide extraordinary value to our season pass holders and accommodations guests while enriching the entire Darien Lake experience.”

With park admission or a season pass, guests receive access to all in-park entertainment/concerts, Dive-In Movies, special events, shows, and now more than 50 rides. A 2015 season pass has even greater value than ever before, paying for itself in less than two visits. Season Pass holders will have the opportunity to be first to ride the all-new Rolling Thunder thrill ride, and will receive free parking, three free tickets for friends on select days and a free 32-oz. souvenir mug good for $.99 soda refills all season long when purchasing and visiting prior to Memorial Day.

In-Park Concert Dates and Times:

Debby Ryan & The Never Ending: May 23, 6 p.m.
As one of the most watched young stars in the business today, Debby Ryan is known for her unmatched comedic timing, flexibility to give powerful dramatic performances, and the ability to illuminate television and film screens. She starred on the Disney Channel series “The Suite Life on Deck,” as Bailey Pickett from 2008-2011 as well as the smash hit Disney Channel Original Series “Jessie” since 2011.

In addition to incredible acting chops, Debby broke onto the music scene in 2013 with her band, The Never Ending. The band consists of singer and songwriter Debby Ryan, drummer Johnny Franco and guitarist Kyle Moore. They released their 5-track EP “One” on June 24, 2014.

Jake Miller: June 13, 6 p.m.
Ever since Jake Miller began posting his original songs on YouTube a few years ago, the 21-year-old Miami-born pop artist has been building a virtual army of fans. His 1.3 million social media community followers call themselves "The Millertary" and come to his concerts wearing camouflage and greasepaint under their eyes. They are devoted to Miller’s irresistible musical blend of pop and hip-hop, combined with the positive messages in his songs.

Miller has independently released three EP’s: 2012’s "Spotlight" and 2013’s "The Road Less Traveled," which debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart and 2014’s "Lion Heart," which sold 8,000 in the first week and 14,000 to date. His full-length album, 2013’s "Us Against Them," sold over 33,000 copies and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Rap chart.

Shawn Mendes: June 27, 6 p.m.
Hailed by Billboard as “Music’s First Vine Star” and TIME Magazine as one of the "Most Influential Teens of 2014," singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes has emerged from teen viral sensation to major best-selling status almost overnight. Soon after artist manager Andrew Gertler discovered and introduced Mendes to now-label Island Records in early 2014, Shawn’s debut single "Life of the Party" broke records, topping the iTunes Charts and selling over 150,000 copies in its first week due to his legions of fans.

The success of the song made Shawn the youngest ever artist to break into the Billboard Hot 100's Top 25 with a debut single. Then, just a month later, Mendes released his self-titled debut EP, which also hit the No. 1 spot on iTunes once again, and entered at No. 5 on the Billboard album charts, showing the staying power of the young artist. Now fresh off of his sold out first headline tour dates, and soon to be embarking on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour as well as releasing his debut album in 2015, Shawn has quickly become one of music's most promising young stars.

February 17, 2015 - 9:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, music, entertainment, Genesee Chorale.

The Genesee Chorale will perform a show at 7 p.m., Feb. 20, at Northgate Free Methodist Church, south campus, built around the theme of American Bandstand.

A stage set is being built to replicate Dick Clark's old set, Pat McHanon will perform as Dick Clark, and between songs, old clips of Dick Clark interviewing some of the great artists who appeared on American Bandstand will be featured.

The musical selection will include hits by Sam Cooke, Etta James, the Everly Brothers, Dusty Springfield, Bobby Darin, Leslie Gore, the 5th Dimension, the Mamas and the Papas, Peter, Paul and Mary, Otis Redding, among others.

The Chorale is conducted by Ric Jones.

Photos are from last night's rehearsal at St. James.

January 29, 2015 - 4:04pm
posted by Leslie DeLooze in music, irish music, St. Patrick's Day.
Event Date and Time: 
March 10, 2015 -
7:30pm to 8:30pm

Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia presents “No Blarney,” traditional Irish music with Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard, on Tuesday, March 10 from 7:30-8:30 p.m.  This free program is for adults.   More information is available in the library and at www.batavialibrary.org.

January 25, 2015 - 2:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, arts, music, schools, education.

Jules Hoepting, a student at Oakfield-Alabama, warms up before her graded soloist performance at Batavia Middle School on Saturday.

Vocal soloists from throughout Genesee County converged on the school for a series of performances that could be part of their grade (depending on the school) and used to determine who will be part of an all-county music recital in March.

The program is organized by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.

Sarah Wether, from Batavia, warms up with her instructor David Grillo.

The hallways were filled with students waiting their turn to perform, and parents.

January 18, 2015 - 6:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, music, schools, education.

Young musicians from throughout Genesee County traveled to Le Roy High School throughout the day Saturday to show off their chops as soloists for area music instructors.

Some schools use the soloist evaluation as part of the students' grades, but the primary purpose is to help select the musicians who will play in the all-county music festival in March (performances at Attica and Batavia middle schools).

The event is organized by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.

Above, Ashley Carli, from Pavilion, practices in the Le Roy gym prior to her solo session.

Katelyn Brown, from Pembroke, plays her solo in the gym prior to her audition.

Dylan Fisher warms up in the bleachers while waiting for his turn to play.

The Le Roy gym served as a rehearsal hall.

Taylor Schofield, from Pavilion, in one of the classrooms where students played their solo for a teacher who evaluated the performance.

January 15, 2015 - 9:39am
posted by Cathy DeBellis in music, concert.
Event Date and Time: 
February 5, 2015 - 7:30pm

Feel the vitality and rhythmic drive as this Pittsburgh-based group, that includes three classically trained cellists and a rock drummer, performs its high energy, original, genre-crossing compositions that meld both clssical and rock music.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 @ 7:30 p.m., Stuart Steiner Theatre, Genesee Community College, Batavia NY. 

For ticket reservations please call the box office (585)345-6814 or email boxoffice@genesee.edu.

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