Kansas City Symphony to Welcome Big Stars, Celebrate Anniversaries in 2019/20 Season

Joshua Bell, Emanuel Ax, Midori, Leslie Odom Jr., The Temptations to appear in 2019/20 season along with Film + Live Orchestra concerts of Mary Poppins, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and more

The Kansas City Symphony 2019/20 season is a blockbuster lineup with epic music, many superstars and timeless films for audiences of all ages.

The Symphony offers three main series: Classical, Pops and Family. The 2019/20 Classical Series will honor three major anniversaries — 250 years of Beethoven, Isaac Stern’s centennial and Michael Stern’s 15th year as Music Director.

“This new season is a celebration of music and musicians where we honor Beethoven’s 250th birthday and the 100th anniversary of Isaac Stern’s birth,” says Executive Director Frank Byrne. “While Isaac Stern deserves gratitude for the many ways he championed music, advocated for music education, mentored young musicians and fought for the arts, he also was a truly exceptional violinist. With his son, Michael, as our Music Director there is no orchestra in America better positioned to celebrate the life and accomplishments of this great man. With wonderful repertoire, exceptional soloists, brilliant guest conductors and creative pairings of music on each program, we can say with pride that the 2019/20 season shows Kansas City as a world-class destination for great orchestral music.”

The 14-concert Classical Series begins in September and runs through June 2020. The Classical Series is available in three options: Bravo Series (7 concerts), Ovation Series (7 concerts) or Masterworks Series (all 14 concerts). The 2019/20 season will mark Music Director Michael Stern’s 15th season this September and the Symphony’s ninth season in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

2019/20 CLASSICAL SERIES
Fourteen concert weekends: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. 

  • Opening Weekend: Finlandia and Schumann’s Piano Concerto (Oct. 4-6)
  • Brahms’ Fourth and Bach’s Fantasia (Oct. 25-27)
  • Stern Conducts Bruckner’s Seventh (Nov. 1-3)
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra (Nov. 22-24)
  • Beethoven, Brahms and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto (Jan. 17-19, 2020)
  • Ax Performs Beethoven (Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 2020)
  • Zukerman Plays Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Feb. 7-9, 2020)
  • Beethoven’s Mass in C (Feb. 28-March 1, 2020)
  • Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto (March 20-22, 2020)
  • Midori Plays Dvorak (April 3-5, 2020)
  • Beethoven’s Fifth (April 17-19, 2020)
  • Beethoven’s “Pastoral” (May 29-31, 2020)
  • Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Tree of Dreams (June 5-7, 2020)
  • Season Finale: Ode to Joy — Beethoven’s Ninth (June 19-21, 2020)

“Three anniversaries — 15, 100, 250 — come together for one very special season,” Stern says. “I’m thrilled to mark my 15th season as Music Director with two interwoven and wide-ranging themes, Isaac Stern’s centenary celebration, and the 250th anniversary of the birth of arguably the most influential composer of Western music, Ludwig van Beethoven.

“Beethoven’s place in our hearts and minds is forever assured,” Stern says. “This milestone year allows us to reexamine his music. And I’m grateful to share the celebration of my father with my extended Kansas City family. Aside from being one of the towering violinists of the 20th century, his advocacy for the arts as an agent of change, for music as a force for good, and for education resonates more powerfully today than ever before. He’d have been proud to see how the Kansas City Symphony has made the case for music in our city.

“We present iconic masterpieces from Mozart and Brahms to Bartók and Stravinsky,” Stern adds. “We’ll perform an overview of Beethoven’s works, including contemporary pieces inspired by Beethoven, a major concerto by Henri Dutilleux, and the world premieres of commissions by Jonathan Leshnoff and Daniel Kellogg. We’ve invited Peter Oundjian, Johannes Debus and Matthew Halls to guest conduct, adding to the Classical Series debut of our own Jason Seber. We’ll highlight the Symphony Chorus in three different programs. And, most happily, former students, colleagues, friends and musical partners of my father’s will grace our stage, from violinists such as Vadim Gluzman, Midori and Pinchas Zukerman, to cellist Jian Wang and pianist Emanuel Ax, to name just a few. As a bonus, violinist Joshua Bell will reprise his role and join us to accompany two screenings of ‘The Red Violin,’ which won an Academy® Award for Best Original Score. There’s truly something for everyone in this 2019/20 season.”

David T. Beals III Associate Conductor Jason Seber and guest conductors lead the 2019/20 Symphony Pops Series, which promises lots of fun.

2019/20 SYMPHONY POPS SERIES
Four concert weekends: 8 p.m. Fridays and 7 p.m. Saturdays (new time!). Additionally, three Sunday afternoons and one Thursday evening concert date available. Visit kcsymphony.org details. 

  • The Temptations with the Kansas City Symphony (Sept. 13-15)
  • Chicago — the Musical in Concert (Jan. 24-26, 2020)
  • The Music of ABBA (March 26-28, 2020)
  • Frank and Ella, Together Again (May 15-17, 2020)

The Symphony Family Series is perfect for introducing children ages 4-13 to symphonic music, including the full-length Christmas Festival. Each child subscription is only $10 with the purchase of an adult subscription.

2019/20 SYMPHONY FAMILY SERIES
Four concert weekends: 2 p.m. Sundays 

  • Symphony in Space (Sept. 22)
  • Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (Nov. 10)
  • Christmas Festival (Dec. 22)
  • Classical Kids: Beethoven Lives Upstairs (March 8, 2020)

In addition to the core series, the Symphony presents special and holiday concerts each season. Subscribers can add these holiday and specials concerts on when buying 2019/20 season tickets. Single tickets for most concerts go on sale to the public in July.

SPECIAL CONCERTS 

  • Film + Live Orchestra — Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back™ in Concert (Sept. 4-6 and 8)
  • Silent Film + Live Organ: The Phantom of the Opera (Oct. 29)
  • A Tribute to Tom Petty (Nov. 16)
  • Film + Live Orchestra — Mary Poppins in Concert (Nov. 27-29, 2020)
  • Film + Live Orchestra — Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in Concert (Jan. 10-12, 2020)
  • Valentine’s Day Weekend with Leslie Odom Jr. (Feb. 15-16, 2020)
  • Michael Bolton with the Kansas City Symphony: The Symphony Sessions (April 24, 2020)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™ in Concert (May 7-10, 2020)
  • Film + Live Orchestra — The Red Violin in Concert featuring Joshua Bell (May 13-14, 2020)

HOLIDAY CONCERTS

  • Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 6-8)
  • Christmas Festival (Dec. 20-23) 

The Symphony will announce the rest of the 2019/20 concerts, such as Classics Uncorked and the free Happy Hour Series concerts, closer to July when single tickets become available.

April 1 is the deadline to renew or purchase a new subscription for the 2019/20 season. Symphony subscribers can secure the best seats at the best prices and receive free exchanges for most concerts. Subscribers also receive discounts on additional ticket purchases.

Classical Series season ticket holders who subscribe by April 1 will receive a “Share the Symphony” voucher good for two free tickets to a select Kansas City Symphony 2018/19 Classical Series concert. Some of the top subscriber benefits include access to the best reserved seats at the best prices offered, free exchanges, subscriber discounts, reserving parking in advance, opportunities to buy special concert events before the public, and much more.

To renew or learn more about becoming a Kansas City Symphony season subscriber, visit kcsymphony.org or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.

VIEW THE 2019/20 SEASON BROCHURE.

HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. J.K. ROWLING’S WIZARDING WORLD™ J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s19)

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Free Tickets on 9/11 for Active Duty Military, Veterans and First Responders

As we remember 9/11, the Kansas City Symphony is offering up to four free tickets to active duty military, veterans and first responders to attend its Opening Weekend concerts (Sept. 14-16) while supplies last.

The concerts are Friday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m. The program, “Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and Symphonic Dances,” features 2013 American Pianists Awards winner and Van Cliburn competition finalist Sean Chen, violinist Noah Geller and Principal Cellist Mark Gibbs on Beethoven’s playful Triple Concerto.

“Our nation and our community owe a tremendous debt to our first responders and their families,” said Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne. “As we mark the anniversary of 9/11, we offer the gift of music in appreciation of their service and many sacrifices.”

To redeem, please call the Kansas City Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The offer is only available through the Symphony Box Office via phone and only available to redeem on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Tickets will be held in Will Call at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway) ticket desk. To pick up tickets ordered on the day of concert, please present a valid military ID or departmental ID if a first responder.

For additional questions, please contact the Kansas City Symphony at (816) 471-0400.

From the Desk of Michael Stern | 2018/19 Classical Series Begins

DEAR FRIENDS,

THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE THE HAPPY EXPECTATION AND EXCITEMENT OF A new season! Dance dominates our opening weekend (Sept. 14-16). Rachmaninoff’s last major masterpiece, Symphonic Dances, is a piece I’ve come back to many times in my life, Music Director Michael Sternalways finding something new. It’s not just Rachmaninoff’s signature romanticism, the magnificent melodies or the irresistible rhythmic momentum that captivate me. I love the nostalgic melancholy showing us how homesick he was for his native Russia long after he came to the United States. The concert opener couldn’t be quirkier or more fun than Aaron Jay Kernis’ New Era Dance, an energetic accompaniment to the political and social upheavals of the early 1990s. And for a long overdue treat we’ve not played in more than two decades, three great soloists join us for Beethoven’s Triple Concerto — Noah Geller, back from Seattle for these concerts, Mark Gibbs, celebrating his 20th anniversary as our principal cello, and Sean Chen, an immense talent whose debut here is also overdue.

The dancing continues with Beethoven’s Seventh (Oct. 5-7), which Wagner called “the apotheosis of the dance.” Whether or not Beethoven had that explicitly in mind is beside the point; we readily respond to its lilt. I met the wonderfully inventive composer Michael Kurth when I was conducting the Atlanta Symphony, where he’s a bass player, and I wanted to bring his colorful and evocative A Thousand Words to Kansas City as soon as I discovered it. I’m equally thrilled that the brilliant George Li is returning to perform Grieg’s Piano Concerto with us.

There was something very moving to me pairing Mozart’s exquisite Ave verum corpus (Hail, True Body) with J.S. Bach’s sacred motet “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht” (O Jesus Christ, My Life’s Light) in our next concerts (Nov. 16-18). Mozart wrote 46 perfect measures essentially as a stream of consciousness, and it’s even more emotional realizing his life ended almost exactly six months later. Bach’s glorious music was meant for a funeral. Together, these deeply human utterances introduce John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, his profound emotional response to those lost in the tragedy and sacrifice of 9/11. In all three, our Symphony Chorus musicians are the soloists. For me, the extraordinary life affirmation in every bar of Schubert’s monumental last symphony was absolutely fitting to bring our program full circle.

See you at the concerts!


MICHAEL STERN | Music Director, Kansas City Symphony


To secure seats, visit kcsymphony.org or call (816) 471-0400.

Get to Know Guest Pianist Martin Helmchen

We’re thrilled you’re joining the Kansas City Symphony and Maestro Johannes Debus for the June 1-3 concerts. Will this be your first time playing with the Kansas City Symphony in Helzberg Hall?

Yes, it will be my first time, even my first time in Kansas, so I’m extremely excited!

Tell us about performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto. What’s preparation like for you? Since you’re constantly performing in new spaces on different instruments, what types of adjustments do you make upon arrival of a new place?

This adjusting process is one of the big challenges in a pianist’s life. Because it is about a new place, new acoustics and an unknown piano all at once. It’s about getting an intuitive feel for an instrument and a space within a short period of time. Sometimes on a tour, [I have] just a 20 minutes of practice time in the hall. The “Emperor” Concerto, though, is in that context relatively easy, as it works very well on very different types of instruments. Beethoven anyway always dreamt of (and wrote for!) instruments he didn’t have at the time.

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? Did you only play piano?

I knew that after about one year of getting piano lessons, when I was 7 or 8. There was nothing more exciting and rewarding right from the start. But there was always so much to work on and to explore, I never seriously thought about learning another instrument. Still, I find the way that a piano works quite mysterious and challenging — actually it can only play softer or louder, you cannot shape a single note, so many things that make singing or a melody instrument fascinating (like the breath, etc.) you have to create “artificially.”

What advice do you give to aspiring pianists?

Follow the route that you find artistically valuable and that you feel drawn to, not what you think people would want to hear, or expect you to play like. Never stop learning and developing your own personal voice in all commitment and dedication to the composer’s intent and the miracle of their works. And do improvise! I regret that I never really did that…

When you’re not practicing or performing, what do you like to do in your leisure time?

Family time, gardening work, sports cars, Theology, soccer.


To purchase tickets to hear Beethoven’s “Emperor” and Wagner’s Ring concerts on June 1-3 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, please contact the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or select seats online.

Get to Know Guest Conductor Johannes Debus

Johannes DebusyMaestro Debus leads the Kansas City Symphony for the June 1-3 concerts. The program features selections from Wagner’s Ring cycle and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto featuring Martin Helmchen. Tickets from $25. Learn more.

We’re looking forward to the June 1-3 concerts! Tell us about the program. Why did you choose to pair the Beethoven “Emperor” with selections from Wagner’s Ring?

The starting point for the program was the “Emperor” concerto, arguably one of the greatest, most sublime, august, grand, complete and almost supernatural creations in that genre. Somehow I felt a “Ring Without Words” would be a perfect match. Wagner seems to continue with Beethoven’s key signature ideas. In a different way, we encounter in the Ring as well the sublime, august, grand, heroic and supernatural. To Beethoven’s dimension of universality and the absolute, Wagner adds his ideas of transcendence and redemption.

Have you conducted the Kansas City Symphony before? Will this be your first time in Helzberg Hall?

Since I have always heard such amazing things about Helzberg Hall and its “home team,” I’m very much looking forward to making my debut with the Kansas City Symphony in its celebrated concert hall. This will also mark my very first visit to Kansas City. BTW: Congrats on being designated by the UNESCO as a “City of Music.” Speaks for itself!

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? Did you always want to be a conductor?

The fascination of being a conductor, the fascination of somehow sculpting and defining the manifold waves of sound an orchestra builds, the idea of bringing all those incredible masterpieces encoded in music scores to life and bringing the various voices in it together — I guess I must have been in my early teens when this seed of a passionate dream started to grow. There was a magnetic force of attraction towards this profession.

What advice do you give to aspiring students?

You live and learn.

After Kansas City, what’s next in your schedule? What are upcoming highlights for you?

Right after Kansas City, I will be at Scotiafest in Halifax celebrating Philip Glass. Then off to the Bregenz Festival where we are going to bring Berthold Goldschmidt’s masterpiece Beatrice Cenci on stage. My personal highlight of this summer, however, will be the launch of a new festival in Prince Edward County end of August.


To purchase tickets to BEETHOVEN’S “EMPEROR” and WAGNER’S RING on June 1-3, 2018 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, please call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online.

 

Kansas City Symphony 2017-18 Star-Studded Season features Yo-Yo Ma, Joyce DiDonato, many more

Kansas City Symphony 2017-18 SeasonFrom iconic stars to timeless music, there’s never been a better time to be a season subscriber to the Kansas City Symphony. Subscribe today for access to the best seats at the best prices. The season begins in September and runs through June 2018.

Kansas City Symphony Classical Series2017-18 CLASSICAL SERIES
Fourteen concert weekends: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; or 2 p.m. Sundays. Purchase Bravo Series (7 concerts), Ovation Series (7 concerts) or Masterwork Series (all 14 concerts). Led by Music Director Michael Stern or guest conductors. 

2017-18 SYMPHONY POP SERIES
Four concert weekends: 8 p.m. Fridays or Saturdays. Led by David T. Beals III Associate Conductor Jason Seber. 

2017-18 SYMPHONY FAMILY SERIES
Four concert weekends: 2 p.m. Sundays. Perfect for children ages 4-13. Includes full-length version of the Symphony’s Christmas Festival. Each child subscription is only $10 with the purchase of an adult subscription. 

SPECIAL CONCERTS
Subscribers have the option to add on these holiday and specials concerts when purchasing a 2017-18 subscriptions. *Single tickets to some concerts on sale now. 

  • Screenland at the Symphony: Star Trek Into Darkness Live (Sept. 8 and 10)*
  • Brian Stokes Mitchell with the Kansas City Symphony (Oct. 7)*
  • Screenland at the Symphony: Nosferatu (Oct. 31)*
  • Queen’s Greatest Hits with the Kansas City Symphony (Nov. 18)*
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ in Concert (Feb. 15-18, 2018)
  • The Music of Prince with the Kansas City Symphony (March 10, 2018)
  • Audra McDonald with the Kansas City Symphony (May 5, 2018)

*Indicates single tickets on sale now. 

HOLIDAY CONCERTS

  • Canadian Brass: Christmastime is Here! (Dec. 1)
  • Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 8-10)
  • Christmas Festival (Dec. 15-19)
  • Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (Dec. 22-23) 

The Symphony will announce other 2017-18 concerts and events, such as Classics Uncorked Series and the FREE Happy Hour Series concerts in July. 

Single tickets on sale Monday, July 24 at 10 a.m. 

To learn more about becoming a Kansas City Symphony subscriber or to purchase single tickets to select concerts now, visit kcsymphony.org or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.

Get to Know Guest Pianist Wei Luo

Wei Luo
Wei Luo

Pianist Wei Luo performs Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Kansas City Symphony on Feb. 17-19 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The program also includes Hindemith’s jazzy Ragtime, up-and-coming composer David Hertzberg’s for none shall gaze upon the Father and live as well as Beethoven’s jubilant Eighth Symphony. Tickets start at $25. To secure your seats, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online here.

Tell us about yourself. When did you start playing the piano and when did you know you want to pursue piano performance as a career?

I am a girl from China who just turned 18, and I have played the piano for about 13 years. I started playing piano when I was 5, and not kidding, I wanted to be professional pianist when I first started. Now, I am honored to study with Mr. Graffman and Mr. McDonald at Curtis, and I am also a high school senior.

What can audiences expect to hear when you perform Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto? Do you have a favorite moment or moments? If so, which ones and why?

I basically love the entire concerto, but my favorite part would be the lyrical passages. They are very special among the brilliant and sparkling passages. I would like to audiences to hear the dissonance in the harmonies with the poetic lines, and the excited rhythms and brilliant passages — especially in the fast movements. The contrasts of characters in the music (introverted and extroverted) are very interesting as well.

If you had to pick, who is your favorite composer and why?

Beethoven. The great depths, passions and reasons in his pieces are so challenging. They always require my complete devotion to study and think about how they work together. And there are so many “nutrients” that I get from his works when I delve into them. The more you think about it, the more you get from his music.

This will be your debut with the Kansas City Symphony. Are you excited to perform in Helzberg Hall?

Yes! I am extremely looking forward to playing in the wonderful hall, and the most important of all, it’s like a dream come true for me to work with Maestro Michael Stern! I am so honored and grateful for this wonderful opportunity.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Hmm, when I was 10 years old at Shanghai Conservatory Middle School, during my piano final test, I forgot to pull up my dress’ zipper on the right side (facing the audience)… The judges laughed, and I felt beyond embarrassed … but fortunately, it didn’t affect my grade and I still got 1st!

When you’re not making music or preparing for a concert, what do you like to do in your free time?

I like to stay at home resting, working out, watching shows and baking cakes and pies! Going to museums and concerts are fun too.

Is there anything in particular you want to do or see outside of the concert hall when you’re visiting Kansas City?

I’ve heard that the museums in Kansas City are great, and I should go visit after concerts.

What other upcoming concerts are you looking forward to in the near future?

Among my coming recitals, I very much look forward to giving a solo recital in San Francisco at the Herbst Theatre in early April. In May and July, I’ll play in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where I am extremely honored to play with violinist Daniel Hope and clarinetist Todd Levy.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Again, thanks so much for your support, and I will always treasure my experiences in Kansas City! Hope you enjoy the wonderful piece by Prokofiev.


Feb. 17-19To secure tickets to hear Wei Luo perform this weekend (Feb. 17-19) with the Kansas City Symphony, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats here.

Get to Know Guest Conductor Ludovic Morlot

Ludovic MorlotSeattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot appears as guest conductor of the Kansas City Symphony this weekend, Jan. 20-22 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The program includes Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring guest pianist George Li, as well as Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6. Tickets start at $25. To secure your seats, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online here.

Can you tell us about the program that now includes Beethoven’s “Pastoral”?
This is a program of great Romantic nature, from the gorgeous melodies and harmonies of Chopin to Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, which is all about feelings. Beethoven’s genius is to create in us a journey of emotions as we awake feelings that we associate with situations and landscapes that we have been exposed to in the past. This brings back nostalgic memories, moments of tenderness and smiles, but also dark and fearful thoughts. The Symphony invites us to explore the widest range of emotions within us and to connect them with our own experiences.

Have you conducted the Kansas City Symphony in Helzberg Hall before, or will this be your first time?
This is my debut with the Kansas City Symphony, and my first visit to Kansas City.

When did you first start studying music? When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? Did you always want to become a conductor or did you have plans to become a professional violinist?
I started playing violin at age 6 and was quite fond of ensemble playing from an early age. Orchestra, chamber music, new music ensembles. This is what led me to contemplate conducting as I would always study the scores to understand the role I played with the violin part. My love for architecture also made me curious about analyzing musical scores and understanding the form of a piece of music.

I believe the real moment I realized I wanted to be a professional musician came around the age of 12 when I started attending more and more concert and opera performances.

What advice do you give to aspiring music students?
Be exposed to as many different mentors and ideas as possible in order to find your own voice. Then, believe in that voice and spread your musical stories with great passion.

After Kansas City, what’s next in your schedule? What are other upcoming highlights for you this season — both guest conducting and with Seattle Symphony?
I will fly back to Seattle to perform Ives’ New England Holidays Symphony alongside Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with Emanuel Ax, as well as continuing a recording project of the music of George Perle. Then, I travel to Paris for concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.

There are many highlights coming up: Ravel’s opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges, Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, Ligeti’s Requiem, as well as concerts in Minnesota, Helsinki and Istanbul.

When you’re not traveling, preparing for upcoming concerts or the like, do you have pastimes you enjoy in your down time?
I love playing tennis and boating, and there’s almost always a book in my hands. And of course, spending time with my family.

Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s a pleasure and privilege to be sharing music with the Kansas City Symphony this week! I’m very curious to get to know the city.


Ludovic MorlotGuest conductor Ludovic Morlot leads the Kansas City Symphony in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (featuring guest pianist George Li) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral” this weekend, Jan. 20-22. To secure tickets, contact the Symphony Box Office weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online here.

 

 

 

 

Get to Know Guest Pianist George Li

George LiGeorge Li performs as soloist alongside the Kansas City Symphony in Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Jan. 20-22). To secure tickets, contact the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or visit kcsymphony.org. Also on the program, led by guest conductor Ludovic Morlot, is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral.”

Tell us about yourself. When did you start playing the piano? When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

I have lived all my life in Massachusetts, so I guess I’m a Boston boy through and through! My parents originated from China, so I was raised in a hybrid of sorts from American and Chinese culture. I started playing the piano when I was 4 and a half, and my passion for music was ignited before that, partly because I was exposed to classical music a lot. Neither of my parents play an instrument, but I had grown used to my sister practicing the piano, and in addition, my mom would take us to concerts in Boston, and turn on the classical music radio station before going to bed.

I started wanting to become a professional musician after I played a concert with orchestra, performing Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto. Somehow, I felt differently playing on stage that day, as if I had entered a different world. After the performance, many people came up to me to say how affected they were by my playing. I had no idea music could be so powerful, and from then on, I wanted to continue making music for people.  

You’ll be performing Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with the Kansas City Symphony. What do you love about the work?

The piece is indeed very dear to me, as I’m sure it is for everyone else as well! There is of course the element of the many beautiful arching and singing melodies, but for me, I love the piece especially because of its depth. It shows that Chopin is much more than a composer who creates beautifully sweet and soothing melodies; granted, he does this with ease, but there is also the passionate, stormy and tragic side to him. There is so much nuance and finesse to his music, and hopefully I’ll be able to show that this weekend!

Beyond Chopin, who are your other favorite composers and why?

This is a tough question for me, because I try to form a solid relationship with every composer that I play and every piece that I’m working on. Very often, I learn to love the piece and the composer that I play, but I feel a stronger bond with composers like Beethoven, Schumann and Rachmaninoff — all geniuses in their own right.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love to read, and am a sports fanatic! The first sport I felt passionate about was — and still is — baseball, and now my interest in sports has grown to soccer, football and basketball as well. I only play soccer nowadays, and just in small groups to avoid any injuries.

What are other highlights of your 2016-17 season?

I played with Maestro Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the opening gala, and also made my orchestral debut in the Berlin Philharmonie, both of which were really exciting. Coming up, I will make my debuts with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

Where are you headed next after Kansas City?

I will go to Barcelona next to play Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Mariinsky Orchestra and Maestro Gergiev.


George Li
George Li

To hear George Li perform Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with the Kansas City Symphony on the Jan. 20-22 concerts, select seats online or call the Symphony Box Office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at (816) 471-0400.

Kansas City Symphony Announces Guest Conductor, Repertoire Change for Jan. 20-22 Concerts

Ludovic Morlot. Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.
Ludovic Morlot. Photo credit Lisa-Marie Mazzucco.

Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot to replace guest conductor Asher Fisch and the Symphony will perform Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony in place of Brahms and Wagner

Seattle Symphony Music Director Ludovic Morlot will step in for guest conductor Asher Fisch for the Kansas City Symphony’s upcoming Classical Series concerts on Jan. 20-22. Additionally, the new program is:

CHOPIN Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring pianist George Li
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6, “Pastoral”

Morlot has served as music mirector at the Seattle Symphony since 2011, and he is a frequent guest conductor as top orchestras around the world. Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in London and then at the Royal College of Music as recipient of the Norman del Mar Conducting Fellowship. He chairs the orchestra conducting studies at the University of Washington School of Music in Seattle.

Tickets for “Chopin with Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’” start at $25 and are available from kcsymphony.org or by calling the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.