From the Desk of Michael Stern

DEAR FRIENDS,

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.

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GUEST VIDEOS: Soprano Christine Brewer & Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey

Britten's War Requiem

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.

Get to Know Christmas Festival Guest Soprano Lisa Vroman

Lisa Vroman
Lisa Vroman, soprano

Guest soprano Lisa Vroman joins the Kansas City Symphony, Symphony Chorus, Allegro Choirs of Kansas City and the Rezound! Handbell Ensemble for seven presentations of the Symphony’s annual Christmas Festival concerts Dec. 15-18 and 20. Tickets from $30 for adults and $15 for children. Reserve tickets online or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.

Tell us how you got your start in music. When did you know you were going to become a professional musician?
My mother was my junior high and high school choral music teacher from Upstate, New York. I played the flute and sang in chorus. I also loved sports! I went to The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, following my sister (also a music educator) and have an undergrad degree in music education. I then completed my masters (MFA) at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa. I also have an honorary doctorate from Potsdam.

I will add that my stepfather was a Robert Shaw Chorale singer in the 1950s and also was a graduate and choral professor at Potsdam! Music has been in my family DNA for many years!

Since you’re singing in the Kansas City Symphony Christmas Festival, we must ask if you have a favorite seasonal song or carol?
Since I sing multiple holiday symphony concerts, I do repeat many favorites each year… But having a choral upbringing means I am happiest when singing with a choir for the holidays. I could not pick one favorite.

Do you celebrate for the holidays? Do you have any traditions?
I sometimes do not get home until Christmas Eve … and am off again for a New Year’s concert elsewhere, so it is a really great work season. Even when starring as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, or any show, you do not get holidays off as vacation. We are the entertainment for the rest of the world!

I do miss my family, as we are extremely close, but you have to make time the rest of the year.

Have you sung with the Kansas City Symphony in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center before?
Not with the Symphony, but I spent time in Kansas City getting my Equity card at KC Starlight Theatre one summer after grad school.

How much of your time is spent practicing vs. performing vs. traveling? Do you have much down time? What do you like to do during your leisure time?
Traveling takes a lot of energy. For example, I was with the Hong Kong Philharmonic last season, and it is tricky to fly, recover to sing, then recover after the flight home. I am constantly preparing for the next concert event, which means arranging music, learning new pieces and developing concerts and recitals. I also have been singing corporate events, recitals and giving master classes more and more.

In my “down” time” (not very much) my husband and I love working on our home, and we have a 2-year-old, 70-pound rescue dog named Barber (after American composer Samuel Barber).

Photo of Barber the dog, a 2-year-old, 70-pound rescue dog, who is named after American composer Samuel Barber
Photo of Barber the dog, a 2-year-old, 70-pound rescue dog, who is named after American composer Samuel Barber

Who is your favorite artist of all time and why?
It depends on what genre… Elly Ameling, Benita Valente, Barbara Cook, Ella Fitzgerald, Elton John… the list is a long one!

Since you’ll be in Kansas City for several days, is there anything else you want to do outside of the concert hall?
I will probably not spend a lot of time outside the concert hall/hotel. That is typical during a run of many concerts! You must eat well, exercise and rest. I have a project coming up in January and also will be learning music by composer Kurt Weill that week.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I have spoken to Maestro Jason Seber, and I am so looking forward to sharing the stage with him, the orchestra musicians and the two choirs. I have said I never get to see my family for the holidays, so I will just adopt your audience as my extended family.


Kansas City Symphony Christmas Festival is Dec. 15-18 and 20.
Kansas City Symphony Christmas Festival is Dec. 15-18 and 20.

Secure seats to the Kansas City Symphony Christmas Festival by visiting this page or by calling the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400.