Harmonica player Robert Bonfiglio finds his groove with Fox Valley Symphony

November 1, 2012

Author:  
Kara Patterson

Source:  
Post Crescent

Musician Robert Bonfiglio says when he plays his harmonica in an orchestral setting, it’s a good way to introduce newcomers to symphonic music.

“The harmonica is a real folk instrument,” said the New York City-based Bonfiglio, who performs Saturday as the Fox Valley Symphony’s guest artist. “Because it’s an instrument of the people, by the people and for the people, it’s also not intimidating.”

“Adventures” starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton. It features Bonfiglio on Villa-Lobos’ “Harmonica Concerto,” and includes works by Bach and Brahms.

The Los Angeles Times has called Bonfiglio “the Paganini of the Harmonica.”

“Paganini was a violin virtuoso who elevated the technical limits of violin playing,” said Brian Groner, the symphony’s music director. “He did things which were unthought of before. The same could be said for Robert (Bonfiglio.) He’s a technical wizard, that’s a given. But the music that he makes transcends technique.”

A pre-concert talk for ticketholders starts at 6:40 p.m. Saturday in the PAC’s Kimberly-Clark Theater. Orchestra students from ACES Xavier Educational System schools will perform in the PAC’s lobby from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. A post-concert party in the lobby includes refreshments.
Tickets cost $29-$59. Student tickets cost $10 the day of the concert with identification. Music teachers receive one free ticket with identification.

To participate in the symphony’s “Music for a Cause” program, mention “ACES Xavier Educational System” or “Music for a Cause” when ordering tickets. The symphony will donate 75 percent of the face value of those designated tickets to the concert’s featured nonprofit organization, ACES Xavier Educational System.

Bonfiglio plans to demonstrate his harmonica skills to about 300 ACES Xavier Educational System students today at Catholic Central Elementary School in Appleton. Heid Music is providing harmonicas for each student. On Friday, he’ll lead a similar program at Ferber Elementary School, also in Appleton.

“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and for the students and the System to benefit from both the learning experience and the financial support of the ‘Music for a Cause’ program,” said Janet Wagner, director of development and alumni relations for ACES Xavier Educational System.

Bonfiglio said whether he’s in a concert hall or a school, his goal is the same.
“You light a fire under people,” he said. “That’s your job as a soloist. The instrument itself evokes emotions.”

If you go
What: Fox Valley Symphony presents its concert “Adventures,” with harmonica player Robert Bonfiglio

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton

Tickets: $29-$59. Student tickets cost $10 the day of the concert with identification. Music teachers receive one free ticket with identification. Group prices are available. To participate in the Fox Valley Symphony’s “Music for a Cause” program, mention “ACES Xavier Educational System” or “Music for a Cause” when ordering tickets. The symphony will donate 75 percent of the face value of those designated tickets to the concert’s featured nonprofit organization, ACES Xavier Educational System.

Related events: Robert Bonfiglio will perform and answer questions during “Concert and Conversations” from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Heid Music, 308 E. College Ave., Appleton. The event is free and open to the public. A pre-concert talk for ticketholders starts at 6:40 p.m. Saturday in the PAC’s Kimberly-Clark Theater. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Orchestra students from ACES Xavier Educational System schools will perform in the PAC’s lobby from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. A post-concert party in the lobby includes refreshments.

Contact: 920-730-3760 and www.foxcitiespac.com

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