BUFFALO, N.Y. — Before Kleinhans Music Hall celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the national historic landmark hosted a birthday party Thursday for the father-son architect team that made it a reality back in 1940.
Eliel and Eero Saarinen were both born on August 20; 37 years apart.
“They imagined and delivered a building for Buffalo’s future; one that few could imagine at that time,” said Catherine Schweitzer, a member of Kleinhans’ board.
“It’s extraordinary that it’s still being used as the designers and the people who built it 75 years ago, intended it to be used, that is primarily as the home for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra,” said Christopher Brown, the chair of the board.
The Saarinens were Finnish, and Kleinhans’ Finnish heritage was key in bringing a major conference to Buffalo in October. FinnFest USA will host visitors from across the U.S. and Finland in Western New York just as Kleinhans marks its milestone anniversary. It will feature a variety of events and activities, including a special program of Finnish music by the BPO.
“There will be Finnish folk dancing lessons and finnish cooking demonstrations, and Finnish films. It its truly our community’s most defining feature, the generosity and team spirit of Buffalo that will be on full display,” said Schweitzer, who’s a local organizer for the event.
Kleinhans will be a primary venue for the conference, showcasing its recent renovations to prepare for the next 75 years.
“We’re doing the things that add comfort to the patrons of this building, and specifically, new, roomier seats, we’re adding new carpeting and we’re making other improvements to the building,” said Brown.
That includes safety features like making it handicap accessible, and creating an archive room to display Kleinhans history.
The music hall’s 75th anniversary is Oct. 12.