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 Symphony Ticket Offer this Weekend for Furloughed Government Employees

Up to 2 free tickets for Symphony’s concerts this weekend (Jan. 25-27)

The Kansas City Symphony is offering up to two free tickets to furloughed government employees for this weekend’s concerts (Jan. 25-27) while supplies last.

The concerts are this Friday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The program led by conductor Michael Stern, “Enchanting and Exotic: Firebird, Aladdin and Rachmaninoff,” features guest pianist Alon Goldstein on Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto along with Stravinsky’s Firebird, Nielsen’s Aladdin Suite and Griffes’ The White Peacock.

“Many Federal workers and their families are having a tough time,” said Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne. “We hope that the gift of music will bring beauty and a respite from the challenges.”

To redeem while supplies last, please call the Kansas City Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays and identify yourself as a furloughed government employee. Limit one pair per household.

Tickets will be assigned at the Will Call ticket desk at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway) on the day of the performance starting two hours prior to the concert. Tickets must be picked up in person, and furloughed employees must present a valid government employee ID when picking up the tickets. Offer is not valid toward previous purchases.

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

Celebrate the Season with the Kansas City Symphony

Look no further than your Kansas City Symphony for ways to celebrate the holidays through song! The Symphony has plenty of festive concerts and great gift ideas for everyone on your list! Check out our upcoming December concerts as well as offerings in 2019:

Messiah
A Kansas City Symphony and Chorus Tradition!
HANDEL’S MESSIAH
December 7-9, 2018
Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center

The Messiah performance of the year! Nearly 200 amazing musicians and powerful voices bring this choral masterpiece to life with the return of Aram Demirjian as guest conductor. From the “Passion of the Christ” to the “Hallelujah Chorus,” Handel’s glorious Messiah is bigger and better than ever in the acoustically marvelous Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center – an unforgettable start to your holiday season.

Christmas Festival

CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL
December 14-18, 2018
Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center

Kansas City’s favorite Christmas concert tradition returns for seven joyous performances with the Symphony and Symphony Chorus. Cherished Christmas carols and Yuletide songs, talented special guests and one jolly visitor from the North Pole are sure to fill you with holiday spirit. Your family and friends will love this special concert experience, capturing the true essence of the season. At each performance, we’ll give away a dazzling jewelry prize from Helzberg Diamonds, no purchase necessary.


GIFT IDEAS

The Kansas City Symphony also offers gift certificates — one size fits all!

Or perhaps tickets to one on these in-demand concerts would surely thrill your friends and family:

Harry Potter

Kansas City Symphony Presents
HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE™ IN CONCERT
Thursday and Friday, January 3-4 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, January 5 at 12 p.m.
Sunday, January 6 at 4 p.m.

Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center
Jeffrey Schindlerguest conductor

Grab your broom and get ready for the tasks ahead! The Triwizard Tournament comes to Hogwarts™ in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert. Relive the magic of Harry Potter™ soaring across the big screen in high-definition and experience the Kansas City Symphony performing Patrick Doyle’s unforgettable score live.

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. (s18)

Russian Romantics

Kansas City Symphony Classical Series

RUSSIAN ROMANTICS: TCHAIKOVSKY and GLAZUNOV
Friday and Saturday, January 11-12 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 13 at 2 p.m.

Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center

Andrey Boreykoguest conductor
Maria Ioudenitchviolin (Underwritten by the Almy Legacy Fund)

STRAVINSKY Chant funèbre
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite No. 3

We’re bringing St. Petersburg to Kansas City with three Russian giants — Stravinsky, Glazunov and Tchaikovsky, led by St. Petersburg native Andrey Boreyko who makes his Kansas City Symphony conducting debut. Presumed lost for more than a century, the recent rediscovery of Chant funèbre allows audiences to hear a young Stravinsky’s rise to prominence before he wrote his famed Firebird. Glazunov’s passionate Violin Concerto blends colorful, freewheeling melodies with impressive technical feats. Tchaikovsky’s triumphant Third Suite culminates in a powerful theme-and-variations finale.

Grammy Greats

Kansas City Symphony Presents
CLASSICS UNCORKED: GRAMMY® GREATS
Thursday, January 17 at 7 p.m.

Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center

Jason SeberDavid T. Beals III Associate Conductor

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. Afterward, enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or champagne, and mingle with Symphony musicians. Sponsored by BMO Wealth Management. Most tickets $25.

Star Wars

Film + Live Orchestra
STAR WARS EPISODE IV — A NEW HOPE
Thursday and Friday, January 31 – February 1 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, February 2 at 2 p.m.
Sunday, February 3 at 4 p.m.

Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center

Jason SeberDavid T. Beals III Associate Conductor

Journey back to 1977 and a galaxy far, far away for the classic first film of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, written and directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. Watch the Rebel Alliance attempt to destroy the Death Star on a huge screen in Helzberg Hall while your Kansas City Symphony performs the thrilling John Williams score live.

Presentation licensed by Disney Concerts. © All rights reserved. In association with 20th Century Fox, Lucasfilm and Warner/Chappell Music. © 2017 and TM LUCASFILM LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. © Disney

For more information, call the Symphony Box Office at (816)-471-0400between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Why is Schubert’s No. 9 “The Great” so Great?

Kansas City Symphony | Photo Todd Rosenberg
Kansas City Symphony | Photo Todd Rosenberg

Lots of famous symphonies have nicknames. Think Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony, Beethoven’s “Eroica,” Mozart’s “Jupiter” and many more.

During the Kansas City Symphony’s Nov. 16-18 Classical Series concerts, the orchestra will perform one of these well-known nicknamed works — Schubert’s Ninth, “The Great.”

Franz Schubert painting
Oil painting of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm August Rieder (1875), made from his own 1825 watercolor portrait.

Music historians suggest Schubert’s Ninth received “The Great” moniker as simply a way to distinguish it from his Symphony No. 6 (also in C Major), which is now sometimes called the “Little C Major.” The much grander No. 9 is also longer, measuring about 48 minutes versus No. 6 at roughly 27 minutes.

For fun, Symphony musicians and staff weighed in on why they think Schubert’s “Great” is just that … great. Here are some of their responses:

  1. Other great composers revered this symphony. Hector Berlioz wrote that Schubert’s Ninth “is, to my thinking, worthy of a place among the loftiest productions of our art.” — Frank Byrne, executive director.
  1. Schubert’s “Great” is equally majestic and innovative, and it is even more impressive that it stands out as one of Schubert’s greatest achievements given that it was written only one year after Beethoven’s Ninth. — Jason Seber, David T. Beals III Associate Conductor.
  1. I love the piece. As a violin player, it’s so rewarding to play, especially the Finale — technically challenging and musically satisfying! — Chiafei Lin, acting assistant concertmaster.
  1. It has one of the greatest trombone parts in the repertoire. About Schubert’s time, trombones were used mostly for special effect, change and color in the orchestra. Schubert’s “Great” C Major was one of the first times that trombones were used in a very egalitarian way. There are solo parts in each instrument; the section itself has big solo portions. It’s not until Mahler, actually, that composers used the trombone in the same kind of way that the other sections were used in the orchestra. — Roger Oyster, principal trombone.
  1. Majestic timpani rolls! — Christopher McLaurin, principal percussion.
  1. I love this quote from Robert Schumann’s essay discussing the work, “Here we find, besides the most masterly compositional technique, life in every fiber; coloring down to the finest gradation; meaning everywhere; sharp expression in detail; and in the whole a suffusing Romanticism such as other works of Franz Schubert have already made known to us.

“And the heavenly length of the symphony, like that of a thick novel in four volumes by, say, Jean Paul, another who can never come to an end, and indeed for the best reason, to give the reader something to chew on afterwards. How this refreshes, this feeling of rich and ubiquitous abundance, so contrary to one’s experience with others, when one always dreads being let down at the end and is often sadly disappointed.”

Schumann summed it up very well in that the music of Schubert explores all facets of emotion, of life, of experiences, and most importantly always leaves us yearning for more.

My favorite part of the Schubert’s Ninth Symphony is the 2nd movement, after the climax and after the Grand Pause … heavenly indeed. — Kristina Fulton, principal oboe.

  1. Because in the purest sense of the word, this work is humanity distilled into one soaring and timeless song.

Schubert was a song composer, though his gifts for chamber and orchestral music are clear. But then, at the age of 30, he transcends the form of the symphony in a way that practically no other work does. Other symphonies have broken out of their molds as new creations of form — think the Berlioz Symphonie fantastique or Mahler. But in the propulsion, the energy, the optimism tinged with nostalgia and sadness which yields inevitably to elation and triumph, and especially the long-lined lyricism, this piece is nature and humanity transported to a higher realm. — Michael Stern, music director.

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To hear your Kansas City Symphony perform Schubert’s Ninth “The Great” on the Nov. 16-18 concerts, visit kcsymphony.org or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400. The program, led by conductor Michael Stern, also includes Bach’s “O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht,” Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus and John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls. Tickets start at $25. All concerts held in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

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.

Individual Tickets for 2018/19 Kansas City Symphony Concerts Available July 30, Announcing Classics Uncorked

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:

Classical Series

Pops Series

Family Series

Holiday Concerts

Special Concertserts

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.

Get to Know Guest Violinist Augustin Hadelich

Augustin Hadelich
Augustin Hadelich

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.

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.