Kansas City Symphony Renews Associate Conductor Contract

Jason Seber. Credit: Todd RosenbergJason Seber signs two-year contract as David T. Beals III Associate Conductor

The Kansas City Symphony has renewed David T. Beals III Associate Conductor Jason Seber’s contract for two more years, which will now extend through June 2021.

The 2019/20 season will be Seber’s fourth season with the orchestra. He joined as assistant conductor in 2016 with a one-year contract. In February 2017, the Symphony promoted Seber to associate conductor and signed a two-year extension through the current 2018/19 season.

“Jason Seber has proven himself to be a great asset to the Kansas City Symphony,” said Executive Director Frank Byrne. “Jason has an incredible work ethic and brings not only fine musicianship but also a positive spirit to every task. Our organization is better by having Jason on staff, and we are delighted to have him with us for two more years.”

Seber leads the Symphony’s Pops, Family and special concerts. He also conducts the John and Marny Sherman Education Series, which reaches more than 30,000 grade school students annually through programs such as Young People’s Concerts and KinderKonzerts. His other responsibilities include serving as cover conductor for the Classical Series, leading Classics Uncorked concerts and frequently conducting the popular Film + Live Orchestra concerts.

“I am thrilled to continue making music with the exceptional musicians of the Kansas City Symphony,” Seber said. “My three years so far in Kansas City have been full of incredibly rewarding performances. Not a week goes by where I don’t feel blessed to be able to work with such a talented team of musicians, staff and board. I have felt the genuine love and appreciation for all the Symphony does in our community. I am especially grateful to Michael Stern and Frank Byrne, who have been outstanding mentors and supporters along the journey. I hope to continue giving the best possible performances for our appreciative audiences and to continue building excellent relationships with everyone in our community, with an emphasis on providing more educational opportunities for middle school and high school students in Kansas City in the next two years.”

Music Director Michael Stern adds that Seber has been an excellent member of the Symphony family.

“Jason Seber has proven again and again why he is such an invaluable part of the Kansas City Symphony’s success,” Stern said. “By his many contributions as a conductor and an educator, by his programming, and by all of his community outreach and advocacy, he has earned a well-deserved and affectionate embrace from the musicians and staff, as well as the diverse audiences he serves so well. In everything we’re trying to accomplish together, I’m reminded daily how vital his passion is for both music and our musicians. I respect his musical insight and admire his professionalism, as I value his friendship. I am delighted he has agreed to extend his time here with us. He’s an important part of our success, and I very much look forward to the next seasons.”

Seber will make his Classical Series debut next season conducting Brahms’ Fourth and Bach’s Fantasia on October 25-27. Single tickets available now from $25. To purchase, call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 or select seats at kcsymphony.org.

The Symphony will announce the 2019/20 Classics Uncorked concerts, which Seber programs and leads, in the coming weeks.

Previously, Seber served as the education and outreach conductor for the Louisville Orchestra where he led Family, Pops and special concerts and worked as cover conductor for the Classical series. Seber also was the music director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra for 11 seasons. He earned his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Cleveland Institute of Music and two bachelor’s degrees from Baldwin Wallace University.

Visit kcsymphony.org for more information.

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Kansas City Symphony Names Next Executive Director

Symphony Board selects Daniel E. Beckley to succeed Frank Byrne

Danny Beckley
Photo credit: Randall Baughn

Kansas City Symphony Board Chair William M. Lyons announced today the Symphony Board has selected Daniel E. Beckley as the next Executive Director of the Kansas City Symphony to succeed Frank Byrne, who will complete his nearly 19-year tenure this year. Beckley will assume the role of Executive Director on July 29.

“We are thrilled Danny Beckley will become the Symphony’s next Executive Director,” Lyons said. “Frank Byrne has filled this important position with such deep commitment and extraordinary skill for nearly two decades; he set the bar very high. I am confident Danny will bring the same energy and dedication to the role, continuing our strong track record of artistic achievement, fiscal discipline and community involvement. Danny’s experience as both a musician and a senior orchestra administrator position him well for great success.”

Beckley is a skilled and experienced orchestra administrator. Since 2013, he has served as vice president and general manager of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Prior to that time, he was Executive Director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina. Beckley’s other experience includes serving as managing director of BlueKey Web Solutions in Charleston, a company he helped found, and he also has been a public school orchestra director. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from James Madison University and a master’s degree in music performance from Northwestern University. He received additional training from the League of American Orchestras and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Beckley was selected in a comprehensive, seven-month national search chaired by Lyons along with a 15-member search committee comprised of Symphony board members, staff and musicians.

“Our committee was unified in our objective to hire the very best person,” Lyons said. “I am proud of their work and their passion for the mission and future of the Kansas City Symphony.”

Current Executive Director Frank Byrne and Music Director Michael Stern served as advisors to the search committee.

“I am honored and humbled to take the helm from Frank Byrne, and to work alongside Michael Stern, the Board, the staff and musicians of this outstanding organization, to continue deepening Kansas City’s relationship with symphonic music,” Beckley said.

With an annual budget of $19.8 million, the Kansas City Symphony is a thriving and dynamic organization. As Executive Director Beckley will be responsible for all aspects of administration and management, including operations, finance, marketing and fundraising.

He will lead a staff of 35 full-time professionals and work with the orchestra’s 80 full-time musicians to present nearly 200 performances annually. Beckley will work closely with Stern on programming and artistic planning as well as the Symphony Board on strategic planning and other initiatives to continue the Symphony’s remarkable record of success.

Stern is optimistic about Beckley joining the Symphony.

“I am delighted to welcome Danny Beckley to Kansas City,” Stern said. “And I am inspired by what we will achieve together as we look ahead to the next chapter in our Kansas City Symphony story. Given the deep and meaningful alliance I have had with Frank Byrne since my first year in Kansas City, I was hopeful we could find someone to take the mantle and forge ahead with the kind of projects and possibilities that have led to our success over the last 15 years. We found that person in Danny. His focus and capacity for strategic thinking is evident, and I know he will continue to nurture the culture of the entire Kansas City Symphony organization, which is so important to all of us. I am energized by his hopeful enthusiasm, and his passion for music is impressive. On top of the strong financial and administrative foundation we have worked so hard to accomplish, I am inspired by the artistic heights our partnership will strive toward, and I am confident great things are ahead.”

To assure a smooth transition in the role, the Symphony has planned an overlap period beginning in late May when Beckley will take the title Executive Director Designate. He will work closely with outgoing Executive Director Frank Byrne to become acquainted with all aspects of the organization, meet key people and partners in the Kansas City community, and prepare to take over as Executive Director on July 29. This planned turnover time is rarely possible in other orchestras, but is another example of the Kansas City Symphony’s extraordinary culture of excellence and collaboration.

“The Kansas City Symphony has set an impressive standard for our field,” Beckley said. “Hearing these superb musicians connect with each of us in that glorious concert hall — to our thoughts, emotions and our being — creates a special place of belonging where we can all come together. The people of Kansas City have built this remarkable organization, and I look forward to leading the Symphony to an even brighter future.”

To learn more about the Kansas City Symphony, visit kcsymphony.org or call (816) 471‑0400.

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)

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.

What do you think? Send us message on Facebook or Twitter.


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.

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.

Free Kansas City Symphony Concert, Fireworks, Family Activities, Veteran Services on Deck for 2018 Bank of America Celebration at the Station

The Symphony’s 16th annual Memorial Day weekend event features live pre-show music, food trucks, family activities, veteran services, Symphony concert and KC’s largest fireworks display.

The Kansas City Symphony welcomes all ages to its 16th annual Bank of America Celebration at the Station on Sunday, May 27, held at Union Station.

As the largest FREE Memorial Day Weekend event in the Midwest, with an expected attendance of 50,000, the Symphony continues to expand its annual gift to the region while honoring the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Grounds open at 3 p.m. with pre-concert entertainment by the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America’s Hot Brass! ensemble, A La Mode and Heartland Men’s Chorus. Adding to the festivities, an array of family friendly activities in the Lee Jeans Family Zone, veteran offerings in the Honeywell Veterans Place and nearly 20 food trucks, will be on site.

The Honeywell Veterans Place includes the Veterans Community Project tiny home model, the V.A. Mobile Vet unit, Kansas City Public Television’s large-scale Vietnam map, Warrior’s Best Friend, KC Association of the United States Army (AUSA), Bank of America’s financial health information and resources for veterans and active-duty military, as well as a tent with even more resources and opportunities for veterans.

At 8 p.m., Music Director Michael Stern will lead the Kansas City Symphony and guests in a 100-minute, no-intermission concert filled with patriotic favorites such as “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Armed Forces Salute” and Tchaikovsky’s ever-rousing “1812 Overture.”

To recognize the great Leonard Bernstein, who would have been 100 this year, the Symphony will perform selections from the musical “On the Town.” As orchestras across the world commemorate Bernstein this year, the Kansas City Symphony continues its celebration of the composer not only in this outdoor concert but also at its season finale concerts, June 22-24, with Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety performed by guest pianist Ran Dank.

To mark the 100th anniversary of WWI ending in 1918, guest baritone John Brancy will sing a WWI-era song, “God Be with Our Boys Tonight” as well as “Danny Boy.” Guest host and narrator Jim Birdsall (announcer for CNBC and NFL Films) and members of the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America also will take part in the concert, including Airman First Class Melissa Edgmon who will sing “God Bless America” and “Star-Spangled Banner” with a flyover by KC Flight.

The program culminates at 9:40 p.m. with a grand finale when all eyes turn skyward for the city’s largest display of choreographed fireworks, presented to the beat of patriotic music and overlooking the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

Attendees are encouraged to take the Kansas City streetcar, which is free to ride, and will operate until 11 p.m. The streetcar runs a 2-mile loop with 16 stops from the River Market area through downtown and the Crossroads Arts District to Union Station, which is the event stop. For additional parking options, view a map here.

As the event draws near, the Symphony will post details regarding pre-show entertainment, special exhibits and more at kcsymphony.org/celebration and on the Symphony’s FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat accounts. The official event hashtag is #celebrationkc.

Kansas City Public Television (KCPT) will broadcast the event live on Channel 19 and re-air the event on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. The rebroadcast airs regionally on Independence Day as well. For the first time, the Bridge 90.9 FM also will live stream the concert on the radio and online at bridge909.org.

Remembering Leonard Bernstein

By Michael Stern, music director

Leonard Bernstein would have turned 100 years old on August 25, 2018. As we launch into his centenary, we devote these varied programs to celebrating his legacy, and it is right and fitting, and should come as no surprise to anyone. No musician before him, and none since, has loomed quite as large on the musical landscape. No one has had such a multifaceted impact, mostly because no one has been so multitalented. No musician ever stood for music, for the arts, and for the social impact of what music and musicians might accomplish more than he did. Now, more than ever, I think about that, and him.

Leonard Bernstein

Lenny — as he exhorted everyone to call him — identified himself as a composer, though he was in fact so much more. It’s impossible, in considering the totality of what he was, to separate his private musical muse from his onstage personality as a performer or his social profile as a public figure. His legacy as a composer, however, is undeniable. The synergy of his imagination and talent collided spectacularly with the energy and possibility of America as she emerged from World War II. Ambition, daring, enormous hard work and a refusal to be straightjacketed by the conventions of the past defined the post-war climate in our country, and these are all hallmarks of his music. Lenny threw open the gates to allow American music to express itself in a completely new way. There had been authentically American composers who made their mark, of course, from Ives, Griffes and all of Tin Pan Alley, including Gershwin, to his own contemporaries. Lenny intimately knew and understood their music, and chief among them was his mentor Aaron Copland. However, in his synthesis of popular music, jazz, Jewish folk and sacred music as well as his deep understanding of the language of Western Art music from Baroque to its most modern iterations, Lenny was unique.

In trying to represent his eclectic legacy, I chose works to celebrate his many facets as a musician. Aside from unassailable masterpieces such as West Side Story and Serenade for Violin and Orchestra, we hear his easy gift as a vocal composer in some of his songs from Arias and Barcarolles and Songfest as well as his Broadway classics. The ambitious and extraordinarily creative leap of faith in his gigantic theater piece Mass is given haunting expression for cello and orchestra in his arrangement of Three Meditations. His love of piano and jazz is exuberantly on display in The Age of Anxiety. He even got it right in Hollywood. While never having written for a movie before, with no prior knowledge or experience, his score for “On the Waterfront” is a model of how integral music can be to the unfolding narrative on the screen. Yet the music also stands on its own as a work of extraordinary power and beauty.

For all American musicians, Lenny was much more than a composer. As a pianist, educator, TV personality, and above all, conductor, Lenny was the face of American music for almost half a century. For me, growing up in New York, his tenure at the Philharmonic and his celebrated Young People’s Concerts were my hometown fare. His personality was hypnotizing to me, even as a child. A lifelong friend and professional colleague of my father, Lenny and his wife Felicia were close with both of my parents. We lived across the hall from Phyllis Newman and Adolph Green, Lenny’s closest childhood friend with whom he collaborated for On the Town and many other works, and our three families mingled together easily.

Michael and Shira
Michael Stern, age 4, at the New York Philharmonic in 1963 with his older sister, Shira.

Lenny also guided me during my time at Harvard University and the Curtis Institute of Music. I remember to this day the hours Lenny spent talking to me on the phone and in person when I was writing my undergraduate senior thesis about Copland, Gershwin and Marc Blitzstein, sharing his unique insights on these people he knew well. But, as a conducting student, I realized how much of a hero he was to me. Lenny’s music-making was larger than life, whether you agreed with every musical choice or not. Well before he invited me as one of three young conductors to appear with him on a program at the New York Philharmonic, I sat in the orchestra at Curtis with him on the podium. It was then I realized that, more than anyone I had ever witnessed, Lenny could instantly transmit to the players in front of him much more than how to play together and in balance. Playing for him, you knew clearly where and when to play, but much more importantly, why. To me, there has never been anything, or anyone, quite like that.

I miss him more than ever.

Leonard Bernstein b&w


Upcoming Kansas City Symphony concerts featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein:

A Century of Bernstein: BEETHOVEN’S “EROICA” with BERNSTEIN’S SERENADE
Friday and Saturday, February 2-3, 2018 at 8 p.m. | Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 2 p.m.

Free Symphony Happy Hour: BERNSTEIN and BEYOND
Wednesday, February 7 at 6 p.m.

A Century of Bernstein: BERNSTEIN, PROKOFIEV and SCHUMANN
Friday and Saturday, February 23-24, 2018 at 8 p.m. | Sunday, February 25, 2018 at 2 p.m.

A Century of Bernstein: JOYCE DiDONATO SINGS BERNSTEIN and BERLIOZ
Friday and Saturday, March 16-17, 2018 at 8 p.m. | Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 2 p.m.

A Century of Bernstein: YO-YO MA, PINES OF ROME and BERNSTEIN
Friday and Saturday, March 23-24, 2018 at 8 p.m. | Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 2 p.m.

A Century of Bernstein: BEETHOVEN, TCHAIKOVSKY & BERNSTEIN
Friday and Saturday, April 13-14, 2018 at 8 p.m. | Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 2 p.m.

A Century of Bernstein: SEASON FINALE FANTASTIQUE with BERNSTEIN
Friday and Saturday, June 22-23, 2018 at 8 p.m. | Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 2 p.m.

To purchase tickets, click on the links above for concert details or call the Symphony Box Office at (816) 471-0400 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.