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Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 10:57 am

Van Halen plans tour stop at Darien Lake

post by Howard B. Owens in darien lake, entertainment, music

With David Lee Roth back in the fold, a new live album, and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Van Halen is about to hit the road for a tour that will include a stop in Genesee County.

The legendary rockers will play Darien Lake on Aug. 25.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd will open the show, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., April 4.

For more information, visit LiveNation.com.

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Emily Helenbrook dreams big, works hard as she seeks career as opera singer

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, alexander, Emily Helenbrook, music

It's a long way from Alexander, New York, to the Metropolitan Opera House, much further than the 536 miles measured on a Google map, but it's the road Emily Helenbrook has traced in her dreams nearly all her life.

At age 20, Helenbrook is building the resume that just might carry her from small town to big city, including a sixth engagement March 27 and 28 with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

A student at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Helenbrook's aqua eyes glimmer when she talks about what she loves. 

"I'm obsessed with classical music," Helenbrook said. "I can't get enough of it. Even at Eastman, where everybody loves music and that's what they want to do with their lives, I'm still the one who is constantly listening to more music and I love it. My grandpa was the same way. Music was his life and seeing him as I grew and grew into being a musician, I saw how much he was devoted and I wanted to be like that."

That love of classical music began at home. Arias and etudes weren't something she was introduced to. It was what she was born into.  

Her grandfather, Mathew Tworek was an original member of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra as a violinist, and master musician and a member for more than 60 years. Her aunt, Adrienne Gryta, was a vocalist and frequent performer with the BPO and Helenbrook's first vocal instructor.

Growing up, all three of the Helenbrook children were introduced to music. Older brother Jason, now a local auctioneer, played flute and twin brother Eric played piano.  

For Emily, music quickly surpassed the hobby stage, however, and became the driving passion of her life.

Passion is what carries her through the hard work of learning her craft and building a career.

People tend to think, Helenbrook acknowledges, that singers just get up and sing, but there's so much more that goes into it. Learning the intricacies of vocal technique is grueling and takes years to master. They also need to research repertoire, study languages and diction, and for performance they must learn more than their own parts, but know and understand other characters, the history of the period and the story.

And that's just the singing part of her life. There are the academics that go into earning her music degree as well as her second degree in political science.

None of that is daunting, though, Helenbrook said.

"For a break, it's my practice time," Helenbrook said. "I don't think of practice as a chore. It's still fun for me, even though it's hard work, it's still fun."

When she needs to get away, she comes home, where there's more space, more quiet and more green.

"I really do appreciate being home," Helenbrook said. "Being in the country is a good way to escape the humdrum of city life. I can't stand it after a while and coming back home to something more simple is really important with the sort of speed of classical music and trying to be a musician."

Success came early for Helenbrook. At 17 she won the Barry/Alexander International Voice Competition, which led to a performance at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and an afternoon-long voice lesson with her childhood idol, four-time Grammy winner Renee Fleming.

"She has the most beautiful voice and she's such a nice person," Helenbrook said. "She's a great role model for young singers. I always dreamed maybe some day I could sing for her and maybe she could teach me some things and that's exactly what happened and it was in her house in New York City. It was the craziest thing."

Performing at Carnegie was also a crazy thing, she said.

"That was an out-of-body experience that I don't remember as much as I would like," Helenbrook said. "It was kind of like a dream, in every respect."

It's hard to believe she won't make it back to that great venue. Talented, beautiful, hard working, passionate about her art and establishing the connections that build careers, Helenbrook is doing more than just dreaming.

She also understands, there are no guarantees, which explains the second degree in political science and her plans for law school after graduation. It's a long way from anywhere to the Met.

"Even really, really good singers don't make it," Helenbrook said. "I've seen people at the Met auditions and they're really good, but nothing happens because a lot of it is luck and being the right place at the right time. I know that and I'm trying to be realistic about it. I know what I want. I want to be a singer and I want to at least try to make a career of it, but it's also important to have a backup plan."

For more on Helenbrook's upcoming performance with the BPO and to purchase tickets, click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 8:56 am

Photos: All-County Music Festival showcase held in Attica

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, Attica, entertainment, music

Photos by Jim Burns.

The first of two All-County Music Festival concerts was held Saturday in Attica, with student musicians from throughout Genesee and Wyoming counties participating.

The concert is the culmination of a lot of hard work by students, including an audition process that also contributes to the grades of many students in music classes.

The next show is at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Batavia Middle School. Tickets are $4 at the door.

Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Photos: No Blarney at St. James benefits HLOM

post by Howard B. Owens in entertainment, hlom, music, st. james

Local musicians Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard, as "No Blarney," performed a show of new and traditional Irish music Friday evening at St. James as a fundraiser for the Holland Land Office Museum.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 3:10 pm

HLOM's Irish Music Night - held at St. James Episcopal Church

post by Holland Land Office in history, Holland Land Office Museum, irish music, music

The Holland Land Office Museum kicks of its 2015 concert series with a night of music from the Emerald Isle.  

Local musicians Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard perform as "No Blarney", singing and strumming all of your favorite Irish ballads and drinking songs!

NOTICE: The event will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, 405 East Main Street in Batavia.  

Friday, March 13th, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Admission is $8.00 per person.  All proceeds go to the Holland Land Office Museum.  

Light refreshments and coffee are provided.  

Event Date and Time

March 13, 2015 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 11:48 am

Darien Lake announces in-park concert series

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, Darien, darien lake, entertainment, music

Press release:

This summer Darien Lake will host three special in-park concerts presented by TOPS Markets that are free with a Season Pass, a hotel or camping package or daily admission. The free concerts will take place in the Ride of Steel Plaza and include performances by –  Disney Channel’s Debby Ryan & The Never Ending; the social media hip-hop star Jake Miller; and Canadian singer-songwriter, Shawn Mendes.

“With roots in the Disney Channel, Kissmass Bash and beyond, these stars resonate with many families across Western New York,” said Chris Thorpe, Darien Lake General Manager. “Along with two new rides, these concerts are part of our plan to provide extraordinary value to our season pass holders and accommodations guests while enriching the entire Darien Lake experience.”

With park admission or a season pass, guests receive access to all in-park entertainment/concerts, Dive-In Movies, special events, shows, and now more than 50 rides. A 2015 season pass has even greater value than ever before, paying for itself in less than two visits. Season Pass holders will have the opportunity to be first to ride the all-new Rolling Thunder thrill ride, and will receive free parking, three free tickets for friends on select days and a free 32-oz. souvenir mug good for $.99 soda refills all season long when purchasing and visiting prior to Memorial Day.

In-Park Concert Dates and Times:

Debby Ryan & The Never Ending: May 23, 6 p.m.
As one of the most watched young stars in the business today, Debby Ryan is known for her unmatched comedic timing, flexibility to give powerful dramatic performances, and the ability to illuminate television and film screens. She starred on the Disney Channel series “The Suite Life on Deck,” as Bailey Pickett from 2008-2011 as well as the smash hit Disney Channel Original Series “Jessie” since 2011.

In addition to incredible acting chops, Debby broke onto the music scene in 2013 with her band, The Never Ending. The band consists of singer and songwriter Debby Ryan, drummer Johnny Franco and guitarist Kyle Moore. They released their 5-track EP “One” on June 24, 2014.

Jake Miller: June 13, 6 p.m.
Ever since Jake Miller began posting his original songs on YouTube a few years ago, the 21-year-old Miami-born pop artist has been building a virtual army of fans. His 1.3 million social media community followers call themselves "The Millertary" and come to his concerts wearing camouflage and greasepaint under their eyes. They are devoted to Miller’s irresistible musical blend of pop and hip-hop, combined with the positive messages in his songs.

Miller has independently released three EP’s: 2012’s "Spotlight" and 2013’s "The Road Less Traveled," which debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart and 2014’s "Lion Heart," which sold 8,000 in the first week and 14,000 to date. His full-length album, 2013’s "Us Against Them," sold over 33,000 copies and peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Rap chart.

Shawn Mendes: June 27, 6 p.m.
Hailed by Billboard as “Music’s First Vine Star” and TIME Magazine as one of the "Most Influential Teens of 2014," singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes has emerged from teen viral sensation to major best-selling status almost overnight. Soon after artist manager Andrew Gertler discovered and introduced Mendes to now-label Island Records in early 2014, Shawn’s debut single "Life of the Party" broke records, topping the iTunes Charts and selling over 150,000 copies in its first week due to his legions of fans.

The success of the song made Shawn the youngest ever artist to break into the Billboard Hot 100's Top 25 with a debut single. Then, just a month later, Mendes released his self-titled debut EP, which also hit the No. 1 spot on iTunes once again, and entered at No. 5 on the Billboard album charts, showing the staying power of the young artist. Now fresh off of his sold out first headline tour dates, and soon to be embarking on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour as well as releasing his debut album in 2015, Shawn has quickly become one of music's most promising young stars.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 10:57 am

Genesee Chorale rehearses for 'American Bandstand' show Feb. 20

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, entertainment, Genesee Chorale, music

The Genesee Chorale will perform a show at 7 p.m., Feb. 20, at Northgate Free Methodist Church, south campus, built around the theme of American Bandstand.

A stage set is being built to replicate Dick Clark's old set, Pat McHanon will perform as Dick Clark, and between songs, old clips of Dick Clark interviewing some of the great artists who appeared on American Bandstand will be featured.

The musical selection will include hits by Sam Cooke, Etta James, the Everly Brothers, Dusty Springfield, Bobby Darin, Leslie Gore, the 5th Dimension, the Mamas and the Papas, Peter, Paul and Mary, Otis Redding, among others.

The Chorale is conducted by Ric Jones.

Photos are from last night's rehearsal at St. James.

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 5:04 pm

No Blarney - Irish Music with Rich Conroy & Don Bouchard

post by Leslie DeLooze in irish music, music, St. Patrick's Day

Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia presents “No Blarney,” traditional Irish music with Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard, on Tuesday, March 10 from 7:30-8:30 p.m.  This free program is for adults.   More information is available in the library and at www.batavialibrary.org.

Event Date and Time

March 10, 2015 - 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Photo: Solo singers at Batavia Middle School

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, education, music, schools

Jules Hoepting, a student at Oakfield-Alabama, warms up before her graded soloist performance at Batavia Middle School on Saturday.

Vocal soloists from throughout Genesee County converged on the school for a series of performances that could be part of their grade (depending on the school) and used to determine who will be part of an all-county music recital in March.

The program is organized by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.

Sarah Wether, from Batavia, warms up with her instructor David Grillo.

The hallways were filled with students waiting their turn to perform, and parents.

Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Photos: Area student musicians evaluated for solo performances at Le Roy HS

post by Howard B. Owens in arts, education, music, schools

Young musicians from throughout Genesee County traveled to Le Roy High School throughout the day Saturday to show off their chops as soloists for area music instructors.

Some schools use the soloist evaluation as part of the students' grades, but the primary purpose is to help select the musicians who will play in the all-county music festival in March (performances at Attica and Batavia middle schools).

The event is organized by the Genesee-Wyoming Music Educators Association.

Above, Ashley Carli, from Pavilion, practices in the Le Roy gym prior to her solo session.

Katelyn Brown, from Pembroke, plays her solo in the gym prior to her audition.

Dylan Fisher warms up in the bleachers while waiting for his turn to play.

The Le Roy gym served as a rehearsal hall.

Taylor Schofield, from Pavilion, in one of the classrooms where students played their solo for a teacher who evaluated the performance.

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