Weekly Feature



2011-11-30 / Lifestyles

Amherst Symphony offers holiday ‘flight’ of fancy

by KATE MOCKLER Reporter


Sarah Stefanski, left, Karen Beacher and Anne Marie Will focus during the final practice before the Amherst Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert. Approximately 75 area musicians volunteer their time to play in the orchestra. 
Photo by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Sarah Stefanski, left, Karen Beacher and Anne Marie Will focus during the final practice before the Amherst Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert. Approximately 75 area musicians volunteer their time to play in the orchestra. Photo by Jim Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com If you were a child or raised a child during the 1980s, “The Snowman” was probably a winter staple. The wordless picture book by Raymond Briggs was released in 1978 and told the tale of James, who goes on a journey with his snowman friend. Since its publication, it has been adapted as an animated television special, a stage play and a live orchestra performance with a film screening.

At the Dec. 4 Amherst Symphony Orchestra concert, people will have the chance to experience the beloved tale adapted for orchestra and narrated by Howard

Blake. The animated film will be projected on a screen as the orchestra plays the haunting score, which is the same as the one used for the animated film. Laura Chabe, superintendent of the Amherst School District, will narrate.

“The Snowman” performance will also feature two young soloists from the St. Paul’s Cathedral Children’s Choir. Benjamin Goupil is 12 years old and is a student at Ambrose Catholic Academy. Sam Stoddard is 9 years old and attends Elmwood Village Charter School.

Benjamin and Sam will also join their choirmates in a 6:15 pre-concert performance. Both the girls and boys choirs from St. Paul’s will perform. The choirs have performed across the country and internationally. Few churches boast a boys’ soprano choir, and St. Paul’s is in the process of revitalizing its choir.

“It’s quite special for Buffalo to still have that program,” said Joan Fishburn, the orchestra’s general manager.

After the multimedia “Snowman” performance, children in attendance are invited on stage to sit on the floor amidst orchestra members. They will receive a set of bells and learn to play “Jingle Bells for Kids” along with the orchestra prior to intermission. Two guest soloists, Chris Wietig and Christina Lynch, will perform during the concert’s second half. Lynch is an Amherst-based, classically trained singer who earned her bachelor’s and master’s of music degrees from Fredonia State College. She is on the faculty at Canisius College and Fredonia State and performs frequently.


Chabe Chabe Wietig is a graduate of the Amherst Central School system and also of Fredonia State. He has numerous performing credits, including a performance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and an appearance as McKinley assassin Leon Czolgosz in the musical “Assas- sins” at the Ujima Theater.

Wietig and Lynch will each perform a solo from Handel’s “Messiah” and will perform two holiday classics together: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “O Holy Night.”

The orchestra will play two pieces familiar to fans of animated movies. Depending on your age, you may know Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” as “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh” or as the piece from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia,” where the crocodiles and hippos dance. In fact, it is part of an opera titled “La Gioconda,” which debuted in Italy in 1876 and had its American premiere in December 1883.

The orchestra will also perform “Skater’s Waltz” by Waldtenfel, recently heard in the animated film “Happy Feet.” The concert will close with the traditional singalong, with the soloists and choirs returning to the stage to join the audience and the Amherst Symphony Orchestra in the songs of the season.

After the concert, the Friends of the Amherst Symphony will hold a cookie reception in a festively decorated room. Susan Arrigo will create lobby displays providing background on “The Snowman” and “Fantasia.”

The pre-concert performance begins at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4, at Amherst Middle School, 55 Kings Highway. A complimentary shuttle will begin running at 5:45 p.m. from the Berryman Drive entrance of Amherst High School. Admission to the concert is free, although donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.amherstsymphony.com.

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