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BPO, Amherst Chamber bring cheer with holiday concerts

The holidays are a special time for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which continues its celebration of the season with "JoAnn's Classical Christmas" and, for kids, the "Jingle Bell Jam" at Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle), plus a free public performance (no tickets required) at 1 p.m. Dec. 14 in the lobby of the M&T Gold Dome Building downtown (1 Fountain Plaza).

Classical Christmas begins at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 13, when early arrivals can enjoy free coffee and doughnuts prior to the performance. Doors for Coffee Concerts open at 8:30 a.m. Those coming to the performance at 8 p.m. Dec. 14, get a different kind of treat if they arrive early: BPO conductor JoAnn Falletta will talk about the music ahead of the show with the free "Musically Speaking" program beginning at 7 p.m. The concert includes music by Bach, Tchaikovsky, Vaughan Williams and a new piece for Hanukkah, with the orchestra joined by the Buffalo Philharmonic chorus for the choral numbers.

"Of all the concerts we do each year, Classical Christmas is the happiest for me because it truly gets me into the spirit of the season," Falletta said in press notes, adding that the experience is heightened by the beauty of Kleinhans Music Hall decorated for the holidays.

The decorations will still be out for a concert at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 when the BlueCross BlueShield of WNY BPO Kids Series rolls out the "Jingle Bell Jam," a 45-minute concert with music from "The Nutcracker" (complete with dancers), "Home Alone" and familiar carols with the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts Vocal Symphony. Making it even better, there is an hour of preconcert arts and crafts time, beginning at 1:30 p.m., and milk and cookies with Santa Claus after the concert.

Tickets start at $39 for Classical Christmas and are $24 for all for Jingle Bell Jam, available for both events at bpo.org.

No tickets are needed but donations are accepted for the "Merry Concerto and Happy New Symphony" concert by the Amherst Chamber Ensembles Orchestra at 3 p.m. Dec. 15 in the Trinity Performing Arts Center of Trinity United Methodist Church (711 Niagara Falls Blvd., between Longmeadow and Sheridan Drive). Music of Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach and Haydn will be on the program, along with plenty of Christmas carols.

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