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.
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.
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.
No. 1 – Amazing music and special moments. In today’s hectic world, treat yourself to top-notch music that not only will relax and renew you, but truly inspire you. You will look forward to having time blocked off in your busy schedule where you can unplug for a bit and be in the moment. The Kansas City Symphony is consistently artistically excellent, so you know you’re always in for a memorable experience. Make it a fun outing with friends or impress your significant other with several dates already planned for the next year!
No. 2 – Greats Seats at Great Prices. Becoming a Kansas City Symphony season subscriber is the surest way to secure the best seats available at the lowest prices the Symphony offers all season. It’s a terrific value too. Each season subscription includes the equivalent of at least 1 free concert. For example, those who choose the 7-concert Bravo or Ovation Series get 7 Classical Series concerts for the price of 6. And for the ardent classical music fan, the 14-concert Masterworks option is an amazing deal as concertgoers can secure seats to all 14 Classical Series concerts for the price of 11. Pops and Family Series subscribers experience similar benefits — four concerts for the price of three. Said another way, season subscribers save up to $20 off each seat for each concert. Becoming a season subscriber is the only way to guarantee such hot deals.
No. 3 – Free and Flexible Exchanges. Conflict with a concert? Out-of-town wedding to attend? Trip planned? No worries, the Kansas City Symphony has got you covered with one of the most liberal and flexible exchange policies in town. All Symphony subscribers have the option of free exchanges, which means subscribers are able to exchange into virtually any Symphony concert – even into concerts not in their series. So, if you can’t attend, say opening weekend, you could switch into a Pops Series concert or a Screenland at the Symphony concert. Pretty sweet.
No. 4 – Additional Discounts. Want to bring more friends with you? Want to add on a special concert? All season subscribers receive $5 off each ticket purchased outside of their subscription. Told you there were perks!
No. 5 – Exclusive Opportunities. The Kansas City Symphony offers its season subscribers the chance to buy single tickets and special concerts before they go on-sale to the public. You’ll also have a chance to receive all of the latest news and announcements from the Symphony when you become a subscriber.
To learn more about all of the Classical, Pops and Family Series offerings, visit the Symphony season subscription page or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or browse online at kcsymphony.org.
Guest violinist Anne Akiko Meyers will perform the Ravel’s Tzigane and the late Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Fantasia (world premiere) on March 24-26 with the Kansas City Symphony. The program also includes Sibelius’ Second and Nielsen’s Overture to Maskarade. Tickets from $25. Call (816) 471-0400 or select seats online.
Tell us about two works — the Ravel and Rautavaara — you will be playing with the Symphony this month.
I have been a lifelong fan of Einojuhani Rautavaara’s and asked him to write Fantasia in 2015. He leapt at the opportunity to write what turned out to be his last composition for violin and orchestra and later that year, sent me the beautifully haunting work. He invited me to perform Fantasia at his studio in Helsinki in December 2015. It was a profoundly moving experience with the composer sitting his living room, which overlooks the Finnish harbor. After I performed, he commented that he wanted no edits or revisions and he was super pleased with the beautiful composition he composed! I couldn’t agree more. Sadly, Rautavaara passed away last year. I am honored to premiere it with Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony.
Ravel’s Tzigane is a gypsy virtuoso showpiece, and it is a perfect complement to the Fantasia. The Tzigane begins with a monster cadenza that challenges every violinist. The piece is a huge crowd pleaser.
Are you looking forward to performing in Helzberg Hall with Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony? This will be your debut with the Kansas City Symphony, correct?
I met with Michael Stern’s father, the legendary violinist, Isaac Stern, to test out violins at Carnegie Hall and met with him on tour in Japan. I am really looking forward to collaborating with Michael, hearing and premiering this beautiful new work together in Kansas City!
While this is the world premiere of Rautavaara’s Fantasia, you have recorded the work already. What was that experience like? Is it your most recent recording project?
I recorded the work with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Kristjan Järvi. I found the experience incredibly moving and believe the Rautavaara will be considered one of this composer’s masterpieces.
What advice do you give aspiring musicians?
Get out and play as much as you can! Create performance opportunities by performing in hospitals, churches, synagogues, retirement homes, etc. Sharing and communicating to audiences through your music is what it is all about.
What are your sources of motivation and inspiration?
Everything around me. Family, life, food, music, nature, paintings, history.
We’ve noticed you have some unique publicity photos of you and your violin among huge trees. Did you have to hike prior to this photo shoot? How did you decide on that particular setting?
That was a very wet, rainy day outside of Austin, Texas, and the photographer raved about the area. There was a giant tree that looked like a heart was part of it. I had to be extra careful not to fall with the slick conditions and wait for dry patches of sky to take the violin out.
Do you have any pre-concert rituals before you step out on to the stage?
I like to rest in the afternoon after working out and gorging myself on a big carb lunch. A Skype chat with my family, nutrition bars and bananas help me immensely before hitting the stage.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? I have a 4- and 6-year-old at home.
What are upcoming highlights of your remaining 2016-17 season? Do you have summer festival commitments or other concerts?
I will be headlining a Beethoven festival in Japan, performing the Bernstein Serenade in Nashville and performing recitals in New York and Washington D.C., among other performances.
This summer, I will be premiering the Samuel Jones violin concerto at the Eastern Music Festival in South Carolina, performing the Mendelssohn Concerto at Bowdoin (a festival I attended as a student) and performing Ravel’s Tzigane with Keith Lockhart at the Brevard Festival.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I look forward to sharing the Rautavaara and Ravel with audiences in Kansas City!
Kansas City Symphony Classical Series HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL: SIBELIUS’ SECOND
Friday and Saturday, March 24-25 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center
Michael Stern, conductor Anne Akiko Meyers, violin
At a time when Finland was under Russian domination, Sibelius’ Second Symphony was viewed as a message of hope. Today, the fiercely dramatic and ultimately triumphant work is one of Sibelius’ most-loved compositions. The sparkling overture to Danish composer Nielsen’s opera, Maskarade, sets the stage for a tale of romance and mistaken identity. American virtuoso Anne Akiko Meyers stars in not one, but two works for violin and orchestra — the world premiere of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara’s posthumous violin concerto and Ravel’s Tzigane, inspired by vibrant Gypsy music.
Student tickets are available for this concert. Please call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 to purchase.