A Night at the Orchestra

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Meghan Murray, Band Director with Norm Lydell, Acapella Director

The Music of Queen Performed by Buffalo Philharmonic

Contributing Writer
Stephanie McCraw

Jamestown is in for a world-class treat this July. “We want to create a vibrancy and a buzz downtown” said Vince DeJoy, Director of Development.

The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will be featuring members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, together with a professional rock band, to perform the legendary music of Queen on July 19th. The show, officially “Windborne’s Music of Queen,” is hosted by the Jamestown High School Marching Band and Acapella. Ticket proceeds after expenses will help pay for the band and choir students to perform at a special Walt Disney World Christmas celebration.

DeJoy described the event as “a world class orchestra with renowned classical musicians that will perform Queen’s top hits together with rock musicians, in a high energy light and sound production at the Reg.”

Music Helping Music

“Jamestown High School Band and Chorus holds many fundraisers throughout the year, but this is an opportunity to fundraise through a musical performance, which is what we do,” said Norm Lydell, Acapella Director for JHS.

In early 2019 DeJoy investigated the possibility of bringing the BPO to Jamestown and asked both Lydell, and Meghan Murray, the Band Director, if they wanted to apply for the Fund for Downtown Programming to help make it happen. The fund is made possible by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and is used to bring exciting artistic events to downtown. Jamestown Local Development Corporation manages the Fund for Downtown Programming.

“Having this fund brings world class talent to Jamestown that will in turn drive economic benefit to downtown with visitors and local people visiting restaurants, staying in hotels, visiting attractions, and having a good time in Jamestown,” said DeJoy. The music biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” was such a hit, selling out at the Reg Lenna in January, so The Music of Queen was a great next choice.

Missions of Music

The BPO began in 1935, finding its permanent home at Kleinhans Music Hall in 1940. Part of their mission is to “enrich and entertain” and “enhance the quality of life for people in Western New York.”

Queen, originally led by co-founder Freddie Mercury, is known for taking rock music to new heights. The show on July 19th at 7:30 p.m. stays close to the original recordings and features the strong vocal talent of Tony Vincent. Freddie Mercury had a passion for opera and orchestra, notably the opera duet “Barcelona” which combined the two. Many of Queen’s songs are symphonic arrangements and are well suited for the talent of the Buffalo Philharmonic.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Performance at Epcot Center

The JHS choir had to prepare a videotape audition of one of the songs that will be performed this year to participate in The Candlelight Processional, an annual event that plays nightly during the Christmas season at Walt Disney World. It’s like a “Living Christmas Tree” featuring a professional orchestra, a professional acapella choir called the “Voices of Liberty,” and guest choirs of around 200 people.

Each night a celebrity narrator tells the Christmas story; past narrators have included the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Kurt Russell, Whoopi Goldberg, Rock Hudson, and even Clark Gable. “Disney has been doing this for decades,” Lydell mentioned. They will be taking seventy-five students on the trip.

Backstage at Disney

On the trip students get to be backstage at Disney in the Epcot Center. The band will play in a parade that involves shutting down the park, which garners a large audience and a highly memorable time. “We’ve done performances in the evening before with the electric light parade. We don’t have our assignment yet, but it’s neat because the street shuts down, and it’s always a huge audience. The whole experience is special” Murray said.

Strong Musical Tradition

JHS band and acapella is celebrating its 95th year. 2018 culminated with the marching band taking home the State Championship.

Both Murray and Lydell talked about carrying on traditions. “We’ve been fortunate to have really wonderful directors in that time frame. We are trying are hardest to maintain the traditions they’ve established for us. We have wonderful middle school programs that help our high school program,” Murray said.

Lydell wanted to emphasize how invaluable the community’s help is in supporting the trip through The Music of Queen BPO fundraiser. “As directors we can’t shoulder the burden of taking the kids from Jamestown to Disney alone. It’s because parents and others in the community appreciate our band and chorus that we’re able to do something like this. We try to provide every chance to fundraise. The event is so timely, and we need the funds so every band member can go on the trip.”

Preparation in the fall will add an extra fourteen songs to the choir’s repertoire, along with the annual vespers and the addition of an alumni vespers this year.

Learn More

Seats are available. Tickets can be purchased at the Reg Lenna box office 108 E. 3RD ST.: Tues.-Sat.: 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. or online at reglenna.com. Price ranges: $35 to $75. Call 716-484-7070 for more information.

The BPO has a great lineup of summer events. www.bpo.org/events.