Updated: Dec 19, 2017
Western New Yorkers love to support the arts, which is why a local nonprofit has dedicated its time to promoting a very special event here locally – Celebrate National Opera Week 2017!
The Erwin H. Johnson Memorial Fund, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that is dedicated to supporting and promoting opera in Western New York and especially the idea of a dedicated performing arts space for opera and ballet, has coordinated week-long events to celebrate opera Oct. 27 – Nov. 5.
Events will include special concerts, lectures, art exhibits and entertaining celebrations throughout Erie and Niagara counties, Rochester, and Toronto. The kick-off of the week will be led by a special lighting of the Peace Bridge in burgundy and gold to represent the curtains that you would find in an opera house.
“We are very excited about Celebrate National Opera Week because we want to inspire both the young and old and help strengthen the sense of community through the universal language of music,” said Danielle DiStefano, co-chair for Celebrate Opera Week Buffalo/Niagara. “We are honored to be part of that connection throughout the nation and share this beautiful art form, especially with our youth.”
DiStefano is not only co-chair for Celebrate Opera Week, she’s also the concert coordinator for the EHJ Memorial Fund and she’s a soprano. She fell in love with opera when she was a little girl and has since then made it her mission to share her passion of opera with the world.
“I love bringing smiles and happiness to audiences and it’s been such a reward for me. I’m always thrilled to be able to work with so many talented people, musicians and directors,” she said.
As co-chair of Celebrate Opera Week, DiStefano and the board members are in charge of promoting the many opera-themed and classical music events including concerts put on by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Harmonia Chamber Singers, and Nickel City Opera. Last year’s celebrations broke records for attendance and musical organization participation both nationally and locally – proving that Western New York is incredibly dedicated to the arts.
“Our board goes above and beyond to support events and programs to the community to showcase the numerous talented musicians and directors locally. We want to give music lovers another level of appreciation for the arts and advocate what our area has to offer,” said DiStefano.
Each year Mayor Byron W. Brown, local state and county officials send proclamations to recognize this special week of celebrations. The EHJ Memorial Fund hosts a “Proclamation Day” where the president, Anastasia Johnson, and the board members acknowledge Opera Week. This year’s “Proclamation Day,” open to the public, will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Audubon Branch Library, 350 John J. Audubon Pkwy., Amherst. Speakers will be present to explain all things Opera Week, live entertainment will be included, and printed programs will be available for guests to take home. Printed programs will also be available at all Erie County Libraries, mid to late October, for the community.
The EHJ Memorial Fund offers a special concert for Opera Day celebrated in Buffalo, and the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (NACC) presents their own Opera Day event in Niagara Falls.
For monthly listings of all the vocal classical and operatic events throughout the year, from
WNY to Toronto, including audition information, visit www.wnyvocalalert.org.
The program is funded by the NYS Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Legislature; administered by ASI of WNY.