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, always 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
Tickets for Wynonna, Carmina Burana, Lyle Lovett, plus music of Gershwin, Star Wars, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and more on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, July 30
From blockbuster movie concerts to some of the absolute best classical repertoire, the Kansas City Symphony’s 2018/19 season offers thrilling live music for everyone in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Single tickets will be available for purchase starting at 10 a.m. Monday, July 30 via kcsymphony.org or by calling the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.
While September and October concerts have been on sale for several weeks, the Symphony’s July 30 on-sale puts the rest of the Symphony season up for grabs. Tickets to all holiday, movie and special concerts, plus tributes honoring the music of George Gershwin, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston will be available. Highlights include:
2018/19 Classics Uncorked Series The Classics Uncorked Series returns with three fun, one-hour casual concerts led by David T. Beals III Associate Conductor Jason Seber. Most tickets are $25 and include a free glass of wine or champagne following the performance when guests can mingle with Symphony musicians in Kauffman Center’s stunning Brandmeyer Great Hall. Sponsored by BMO Wealth Management.
Classics Uncorked: Bach, Bluegrass and Bourbon | Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.
Ready for some toe-tappin’ fun? We’re bringing a little Kentucky to KC. Come hear some bluegrass pickin’ and pluckin’ plus Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. In addition to the post-concert wine reception, a special selection of bourbons will be available for tasting.
Classics Uncorked: Grammy® Greats | Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 at 7 p.m.
We’ve handpicked some of the best Grammy® Award-winning music for a one-night-only showcase in the world-class acoustics of Helzberg Hall. You’ll hear excerpts from the film “Up” by Michael Giacchino, an arrangement of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” and music by Aaron Copland, Joan Tower and Jennifer Higdon. Principal Viola Christine Grossman stars in Higdon’s Viola Concerto.
Classics Uncorked: Secrets Revealed | Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 7 p.m.
When the backstory is as intriguing as the music, we have to pull back the curtain! Elgar’s Enigma Variations captures the essence of his friends and even himself in 14 variations on an enigmatic theme. Plus, many speculate his work contains an overarching hidden theme. Masquerade by Anna Clyne conjures up a mid-18th century London promenade concert with street entertainers.
Free Happy Hour Concerts The Free Symphony Happy Hour Concerts featuring chamber music programmed by Symphony musicians are back with seven concerts for the 2018/19 season. Dates to reserve free general admission tickets vary. See website or call Symphony Box Office for additional details. Sponsored by Lead Bank.
Sounds Relaxing A relatively new concert format for the Symphony, these soothing programs feature guided meditation by certified Relax and Renew® trainer Anita Bailey along with soft, gentle chamber music selections. Tickets are $15, inclusive of all fees.
Information for additional 2018/19 concerts, including Sensory Friendly concerts, TubaChristmas, and Petite Performances can be found at kcsymphony.org.
Season ticket holders may exchange and purchase individual tickets ahead of the public during the Symphony’s subscriber courtesy week, July 23-27, at a discount of $5 per adult ticket (exclusions may apply). Single tickets go on sale Monday, July 23 at 10 a.m. Tickets are available through the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or kcsymphony.org. View the 2018/19 season subscription brochure.
Hadelich performs with the Kansas City Symphony led by Michael Stern for the June 15-17 concerts — Mendelssohn’s “Italian” and Haydn. For tickets, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats online.
We’re happy to have you back, Augustin! You were last with us in 2015 to perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Are you looking forward to performing again with the orchestra in Helzberg Hall?
I am really looking forward to returning to Kansas City! I love the collaboration with Michael [Stern] and the orchestra, and the hall was wonderful as well. This time we’ll do very different repertoire, which I think is ideally suited for such a great concert hall. In a way, the hall is like a second instrument that adds its sound and resonance to the sound of my violin. When that “second instrument” so beautifully complements the sounds of my violin, it’s a joy to play in it.
You’re performing Haydn’s First Violin Concerto and Thomas Adès’ Violin Concerto, “Concentric Paths.” Can you tell us a little about each piece? You’ll also be playing your own cadenza for the Haydn, correct? How long have you been working on that?
The Haydn Concerto in C Major has been a favorite of mine for many years. It is a delightful piece, which is often neglected in favor of Mozart’s concertos. As is typical of Haydn, the music is witty with many surprises, and the form quite unpredictable. The slow movement is sweet serenade played over plucking strings — half love song, half prayer. It almost feels like time is standing still.
At the time the piece was written, it was the tradition that the violinist would compose or improvise a cadenza, reflecting on the themes of the movement or showing off on the violin. During the 19th century composers trusted violinists less and less to write tasteful cadenzas, and increasingly wrote the cadenzas themselves. About 10 years ago, I decided to write my own cadenzas for the Haydn, and had a lot of fun doing so! I will be playing my own cadenzas for these concerts.
I believe that “Concentric Paths,” the violin concerto by Thomas Adès, is the most important addition to the violin repertoire since Ligeti’s concerto appeared in 1992. Concentric Paths is cast in three contrasting movements: the first movement, “Rings,” is very fast and colorful, a kaleidoscope full of circular, irregularly pulsating patterns. The profoundly emotional second movement, “Paths,” is a passacaglia, (an homage to Bach’s Chaconne). The sequences advance like concentric circles, each note pushing on the next, constantly increasing the tension until it finally reaches an almost unbearable intensity. Eventually, a release occurs: the circles start descending the other way, each note a poignant resolution from the previous one. Every time I perform this piece, the music is stuck in my head for weeks.
“Rounds,” the groovy final movement, is lighter in spirit. It makes me think of cavemen dancing around a fire! Eventually the circles become faster and faster until the music leaves orbit, or crashes back down to earth, depending on how you look at it.
The entire concerto is extremely difficult for everyone involved. Adès asks the soloist to go to the extremes of what is possible on the instrument, often playing incredibly high pitches on the instrument. At the same time, his amazing orchestration explores the lowest registers. There are moments that sound like a chasm is opening up!
You’ve performed all over the globe. What have been some of your highlights to date? What’s next for you after Kansas City?
After Kansas City, I will actually have a short holiday, which I will spend in Italy visiting my family, before an exciting summer season starts. This summer, I’ll be performing in Mexico, in Aspen and Vail, Colorado, at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and on a tour across New Zealand with the New Zealand Symphony!
I’ve lived in New York City since 2004, so performing at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center is always a special highlight. Also, playing my debuts at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Wigmore Hall in London were moments I will always remember.
Who are your favorite composers of all time, and why?
I find it impossible to pick a favorite — that would be an injustice to the others that I also love. I am totally focused on what I am playing at the moment, so if you ask me this question in June 2018, the answer will be Haydn and Thomas Adès! I greatly enjoy the variety of playing so many works by composers so different from each other! If I had to pick only one composer whose complete works I could take on a desert island, I would have to go with Beethoven — not only because of his violin music, but also his piano and string quartet writing.
When not making music, what do you like to do? Is there anything you want to do in KC while you’re here visiting beyond the rehearsals and concerts?
Many people don’t realize how little of my time is spent playing my instrument, and how much is traveling, writing, thinking up programs and booking flights. The playing is the fun part!
When I am home in New York, I often get together with friends and play board games!
Tickets for Mendelssohn’s “Italian” and Haydn start at only $25. Purchase online or by calling the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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.
Maestro 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.
Choirs? Check. Bells? Check. Brass? Check. Watch out, Santa, the Kansas City Symphony has made its list and checked it twice as the ensemble prepares for five separate concerts this December, including KC’s grandest holiday concert tradition, Kansas City Symphony’s Christmas Festival.
Hark! The herald trumpets sing — along with French horn, trombone and tuba in this most wonderful holiday concert together with your Kansas City Symphony. These five brass masters always amaze audiences with their exquisite ensemble playing, wide-ranging repertoire and the sheer joy of their music-making. Hear classic carols, sacred music along with fun Christmas tunes, such as the treasured A Charlie Brown Christmas. Tickets from $35.Learn more.
Celebrate TubaChristmas in Helzberg Hall on Monday, December 4 AND Friday, December 8! All area tuba and euphonium players are invited to join in the festivities. All are welcome at the FREE lunch-hour concert to listen to the sounds of the season, tuba-style! Advance registration and a fee are required to perform. Call (816) 218-2639 for more information.
Janet M. Stallmeyer and Donald L. Flora generously underwrite TubaChristmas.
Matthew Halls, guest conductor
Kansas City Symphony Chorus | Charles Bruffy, chorus director
Kiera Duffy, soprano
Dann Coakwell, Tenor
Allyson McHardy, mezzo-soprano
Morgan Smith, baritone
This mosaic of the scriptures remains Handel’s most famous work, and it is one of the most triumphant choral pieces ever written. The impeccable acoustics of Helzberg Hall together with your Kansas City Symphony and Chorus make this THE Messiah performance of the season! With nearly 200 musicians and inspired special guest vocalists on stage, Messiah is sure to impress and delight you. Sponsored by Thrivent Financial. Adult tickets from $25 and youth tickets from $13.Learn more.
Jason Seber, David T. Beals III Associate Conductor
Kansas City Symphony Chorus | Charles Bruffy, Chorus Director
Christiane Noll, guest vocalist
Allegro Choirs of Kansas City
Rezound! Handbell Ensemble
We’re sending a musical Christmas card to you! Join the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus for this spectacular holiday celebration filled with lush symphonic arrangements of Christmas classics, fresh versions of your favorite carols, and many melodic surprises. Share the spirit of the season with your entire family as you enjoy enchanting performances by the Symphony, Symphony Chorus, Allegro Children’s Choir, the Rezound! Handbell Ensemble and a special early visit from Santa Claus! At each performance, we’ll give away a dazzling piece of diamond jewelry from Helzberg Diamonds, no purchase necessary. Sponsored by Helzberg Diamonds. Adult tickets from $30 and youth tickets from $15.Learn more.
For more information and to purchase tickets, contact the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or visit kcsymphony.org. The Symphony offers a range of ticket prices and packages. Group and senior student discounts are available.
Thursday, October 19 at 6:30 p.m. Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center
Jason Seber, David T. Beals III Associate Conductor
The Kansas City Symphony welcomes patrons and families with sensory-sensitivities to a symphonic performance on Thursday, October 19 at 6:30 p.m. The program will feature repertoire from the Young People’s Concert: Out of this World, combining symphonic music with visual elements. This fun and diverse performance will be specially adapted so families and friends of all abilities may enjoy symphonic music in a safe and welcoming environment. Tickets are $10.
Visit this page to learn more or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.
Prepare to unwind as our certified Relax and Renew® trainer Anita Bailey coaches you through various breathing and meditation techniques. Symphony musicians will perform selections to assist in your relaxation. Tickets are $10. To learn more visit this page or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.
MOZART’S GRAN PARTITA
A side-by-side performance with students of the UMKC Conservatory of Music
This early evening performance of Mozart’s tuneful Serenade in B-flat major, “Gran Partita,” written for 13 wind instruments and bass will be a true “side-by-side” between Kansas City Symphony musicians and UMKC students. This is event is free and open to the public.
Reserve free seats here or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.
From 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.
2017-18 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.
Opening Weekend: Rachmaninoff and Capriccio espagnol (Sept. 15-17)
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.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HELZBERG HALL, AND LITERALLY DECADES
of absence from the Kansas City Symphony’s programs, we present a towering 20th-century magnum opus (May 5-7). It is an understatement to categorize Britten’s searing masterpiece, War Requiem, as large-scale. Despite two discrete orchestras, a large chorus, a separate children’s chorus and three powerful soloists, for me, the overwhelming impact of this magnificent music comes from much more than its sheer size. Nine powerfully beautiful poems by Wilfred Owens, an English poet and soldier who perished just days before the armistice ending World War I, are interspersed with the traditional liturgical Latin text of the Requiem Mass.
Britten was commissioned to write this work to rededicate Coventry Cathedral, destroyed during World War II, but this work speaks to us on many levels. A lifelong pacifist, Britten reacted personally to the bloodshed of his times with a prayer for peace that is an indictment of war and violence itself, making the Requiem into a statement for all humanity. On the score’s first page, Britten quotes Owens: “The Poetry is in the pity… /All a poet can do today is warn.” Now, more than ever, this music is essential. With our brilliant soloists Christine Brewer, Anthony Dean Griffey and Stephen Powell, I am thrilled that we can share this music together.
Then too soon, our season ends in June with two outstanding concerts. Returning to play two Mozart piano concerti is my longtime friend and great artist Emanuel Ax (June 2-4). The merriment of Manny’s insights into Mozart create a perfect foil to Richard Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel.
Rachmaninoff’s luxurious Second Symphony closes our finale concerts (June 16-18) where we also welcome two wonderful artists. Dynamic violinist Philippe Quint returns to our stage with Barber’s glorious Violin Concerto. Narong Prangcharoen, a brilliantly gifted young composer with University of Missouri-Kansas City roots, opens the program with his colorful and driving Phenomenon. It is an honor to bring this music to Kansas City. Music is alive and well here, and we are grateful to you all for this season — and for the future.
MICHAEL STERN | Music Director, Kansas City Symphony
To secure seats, visit kcsymphony.org or call (816) 471-0400.
Join us for a moving and powerful concert event like no other. An extraordinary statement of peace that still resonates today, Britten’s War Requiem is a towering 20th century masterpiece. The Kansas City Symphony, Symphony Chorus, and special guests will perform this epic work on May 5-7 in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Hear from a couple of our special guests:
Guest Soprano Christine Brewer:
Guest tenor Anthony Dean Griffey:
To secure your seats, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, or select seats at kcsymphony.org.