Buffalo Chamber Players

Ensemble-in-Residence at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery


In 1951, William Steinberg, then-Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, commissioned Buffalo-born artist Martha Visser’t Hooft to create sets and costumes for the BPO’s production of Igor Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale.”

On Wednesday, May 27, 2009, the Buffalo Chamber Players, in collaboration with avant-garde performance group Buffalo Soundpainting Ensemble, will perform “A Soldier’s Tale,” at Buffalo Seminary, with sets based on the original sketches by Visser’t Hooft. With timely irony, the piece tells the story of a soldier who trades his violin to the devil for a book that predicts the economy. 

In addition, an exhibit of Visser’t Hooft’s paintings will precede the concert.

The Buffalo Soundpainting Ensemble is a group of dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists working in the medium of structured improvisation. Its director, Christian Brandjes, is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Daemen College. He has performed extensively in off-Broadway and regional theatre.

Martha Visser’t Hooft (1906-1994) is one of the most important modernist artists to have worked in Western New York in the 20th century. Her painting Tumblers and Pigeons (1950), now in the collection of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and featured in Life magazine. Cry of the Juke Box (1951), another work from this period, is owned by the Whitney Museum of American Art.

In 1951, the year that “A Soldier’s Tale” (L‘histoire du Soldat) was produced by the Philharmonic, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Committee named Visser’t Hooft the first recipient of their “Woman of the Year” award.

The show is sponsored by 20thcenturyfinest.com. 20th Century Finest, owned and operated by Dean Brownrout, specializes in vintage and historically significant art of Buffalo and Western New York.

The event takes place at Buffalo Seminary, 205 Bidwell Parkway, and is open to the public. Doors open at 6:00 PM for the exhibition, and the performance starts at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $15/$5 for students, and available at the door.