Over 1600 students from seventeen Catholic schools attended a youth concert performed at Kleinhans Music Hall by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a special event called Catholic Schools Day at the BPO. The event took place during Catholic Schools Week and was designed for students in third through sixth grades.
The interactive program, titled "BPO Musical Passport," was driven by a story about Sal, the famous mule from the Erie Canal and combined music, geography, photos of iconic places and local inhabitants playing local instruments as well as information about many world cultures. Students heard the music of composers from the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America while learning musical forms, instruments of the orchestra, and rhythms and melodies from around the world.
Students seemed to relish the sight of Bishop Malone walking up and down the aisles to greet them. Reminiscent of the crowd's reaction to Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S., students called out and waved to the Bishop. When asked what their favorite part of the day was, one student replied "I liked that Bishop Malone was there!"
Students were not the only people excited by the Bishop's appearance and the concert. One teacher reported, "The fact that the Hall was full with Catholic School students and the presence of Bishop Malone - so personable, gracious and charming as he mingled with the students before the concert -- made it a dream experience for me as a Catholic school music teacher. Being in the hall with so many other Catholic school teachers and students felt unifying for Catholic school education. What a great way to celebrate Catholic Schools Week! I hope we can do this again!"
The staff at Kleinhans provides teachers with a variety of resources to help teachers prepare students for the concert. Prior to the concert students enjoyed watching a lighthearted presentation, on the huge video screen, covering concert etiquette. Tips included one that many new concert goers find difficult - when to clap. The answer - when the conductor drops his/her hands to his/her side and faces the audience.
For many students, this concert was their first experience at the philharmonic. "I was surprised by how many musicians there were on the stage!" said Gregory, grade 3 from St. Aloysius School in Springville. The seasoned concert goers were appreciative as well. "My favorite piece was "Fascinating Rhythm" because it made me want to dance and it was fun!" said 5th grader Sam. "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart was my favorite because it sounded like a fairytale." stated Sarah from 4th grade.
Music teacher Mary Knoerl from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School captured the excitement of the day when she reminisced, "I remember my first time as a child seeing the BPO in concert with St. Francis School in Tonawanda. It was something I have never forgotten. The experience has always stayed with me, I'm sure my students will feel the same way!"