NPR's "From the Top" was in Buffalo Tuesday to conduct a recording with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says the show highlighted the classical music performances of two local high school students.
"From the Top" host Christopher O'Riley entered the Kleinhans stage to record the show before a live audience. The auditorium was filled with students from several school district's that included Williamsville, East Aurora, Buffalo, Baker and Starpoint. O'Riley then introduced BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta.
“Favorite great friend of From the Top – please welcome JoAnn Falletta,” O’Riley announced.
Then the first performer was called to the stage. Drew Cone is an 18-year-old cellist from Williamsville East High School. He is the son of two BPO violinists, Doug and Andrea Cone.
As part of the program format, O'Riley interviews the young performers. After Cone played his piece, O'Riley first asked Falletta what she most enjoyed about Cone's performance.
“His passion. He’s so in love with the music and you can tell that as he’s playing. I loved that,” responded Falletta.
Cone then appeared his interview with his parents.
“Drew, as we mentioned before you performed, your parents are members of this great orchestra,” O’Riley remarked.
This was the third time "From the Top" has recorded with the BPO.
Seventeen-year-old Christophe Koenig of East Aurora High School was also a featured performing. He's a violinist. Koenig was joined by his teacher Amy Glidden. She serves an associated concertmaster with the BPO.
Music teacher Alissa Iorio is the orchestra director at East Aurora High school.
“Christophe is a phenomenal musician and he’s very active, performing in his community," Iorio said. "Everyone knows who he is and how good he is, so it wasn’t a surprise to us that he was selected for this honor.”
In the audience, 160 students from East Aurora watched Koenig perform at Kleinhans.
“I’ve been teaching in East Aurora for 16 years and Christophe is probably one of the most musical, mature violinist that I’ve ever come across. He is very gifted. He’s very talented and we know that he’s going to go on to perform many great things in his career,” Iorio said. “He really does have the drive. He practices all the time. He works incredibly hard and music is his life and that really does make the difference.”
After Koenig performed, O'Riley asked him numerous questions. One focused on why O'Riley had a dyed his hair blonde. Koenig, who is also the high school swim team, said they bleach their hair this time of the year to show "unity." By the way, the swim team recently won the Section VI championship.
Both local students received standing ovations for their classical music performances.