Weekly Feature



2017-12-06 / Lifestyles

Amherst student to perform duet with father at BPO concerts

by HOLLY N. LIPKA Reporter


AHS sophomore Benjamin Mekinulov will make his Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra debut at the orchestra’s “Classical Christmas” concerts on Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9. AHS sophomore Benjamin Mekinulov will make his Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra debut at the orchestra’s “Classical Christmas” concerts on Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9. Benjamin Mekinulov, a sophomore and cellist at Amherst High School, will make his Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra debut by sharing the stage with his father, BPO principal cellist Roman Mekinulov, at the orchestra’s “Classical Christmas” concerts this weekend.

“I think it’s really cool, and it’s going to be fun, especially since the concert is on Dec. 9, his birthday, too,” said Benjamin about his father.

The concerts will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, at Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.

The program features winter and Christmas pieces, all written by classical composers, including Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” and Randol Bass’ “Joy to the World,” which will be sung by the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.

Following the chorus, Benjamin and his father will perform Vivaldi’s cello duet titled “Concerto in G minor for Two Cellos.”

“It’s high energy, very technical, and a lot of back and forth between the cellos,” said Mekinulov. “We’re going to rock it.”

Mekinulov has been the orchestra’s principal cellist since 2002.

He was born in Russia and began studying the cello at age 5. In 1989, he came to the United States with his family as refugees and was accepted at The Juilliard School in New York City when he was just 17 years old.

He performed extensively throughout the United States, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Germany, France, Greece, Denmark and Switzerland, as well as his native Russia, before settling down in Amherst with his wife, Sebnem, a lyric soprano; Benjamin; and daughter Talia, who also plays cello.

When it was time for Benjamin to decide which instrument to play, his father tried to persuade him to play anything but the cello.

“I told him I play cello, his sister plays cello, and him playing cello would be cello overload,” said Mekinulov.

However, his son remained persistent for weeks before telling his father he wanted to play the viola.

“After he said he wanted to play the viola, I said, ‘All right, you can play the cello,’” said Mekinulov.

Since the fourth grade, Benjamin has been selected to perform in the Erie County Music Educators Association All-County Orchestra. He also plays cello with the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra, along with his sister, who is a senior at Amherst High School.

“I love being able to express myself with music, and since there’s different types of music, there’s different ways to express myself,” said Benjamin.

For Mekinulov, his love for music comes from performing on stage.

“I think concerts are very much a live show,” he said. “People come to see a performance, and I love being a part of that performance. I’m not saying I’m acting, but I’m really feeling the music, and I like being a part of live music. There’s nothing like that.”

To see Roman and Benjamin Mekinulov perform at the upcoming concerts, visit bpo.org or call 885-5000 for tickets.

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