Fall Season Lookahead: Music

Critic’s Picks

Sure, nearly every classical music fan is drooling over the Beethoven Bicenquinquagenary (250th anniversary) in 2020, but there’s a fair bit of action in the last quarter of 2019 to keep us busy.

Park University’s International Center for Music hosts a special benefit concert evening with Stanislav & Friends in Helzberg Hall, with the audience seated onstage (Sept. 20). Pianist Behzod Abduraimov gave a heart-stopping performance at the 1900 Building last season, and no doubt he’ll bring the thunder once again (Oct. 30).

Friends of Chamber Music front-loads their season with exceptional chamber ensembles, including Calidore Quartet with violist Matthew Lipman (Sept. 28), Rolston Quartet (Oct. 11) at 1900 Building and Fretwork, featuring countertenor Iestyn Davies, at Linda Hall Library (Oct. 25).

It’s a big year for the Kansas City Symphony, which kicks off its 15th season with music director Michael Stern (Oct. 4 – 6) and a new executive director, Danny Beckley. Associate conductor Jason Seber makes his Classical Series debut, in concert with organ virtuoso Paul Jacobs (Oct. 25 – 27). New work from Daniel Kellogg and Jonathan Leshnoff, epic work from Jean Sibelius, Anton Bruckner and Richard Strauss, and the ever-popular Happy Hour concerts, all in Helzberg Hall, have us filling in the calendar with must-see dates.

World music may be a catchall term, but dang if it doesn’t always grab my attention. Kauffman Center brings in one of my favorite trios of all time, presenting Béla Fleck (banjo), Zakir Hussain (tabla) and Edgar Meyer (bass) in concert in Helzberg Hall for a wonderfully worldly performance from three masters of their craft (Oct. 9). Ensemble Ibérica explores folk music and dance with impassioned performances from local favorites and international guests (MTH Theater, Sept. 17 and 18).

Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents a new spin on Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” directed by Alison Moritz and featuring Prairie Village, Kansas’ own Ben Bliss (Sept. 21, 25, 27 and 29).

Some of our favorite local groups are doing some very on-brand shows this season. Bach Aria Soloists celebrates their 20th anniversary with a party at Boulevard Brewing Company, featuring members through the years (Sept. 8). newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble is making Diastole home this season, presenting an expanded sound world from a bevy of living composers (Oct. 12,13 and Dec. 7,8). Spire Chamber Ensemble starts their season with “This Is Spire: Celebrating 10 years” at Trinity Lutheran Church (Oct. 6), and Kansas City Chorale performs with organist Elisa Bickers in the recently renovated Village Presbyterian Church (Oct. 25).


Top Venues

Performance spaces around Kansas City are housed in structures dating from the late 1800s to the present. I make my seating selection for either best visual or aural advantage, depending on the type of show.

With 1,600 seats, Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is deceptively intimate: The audience is on display as much as the performers are. I like sitting in the Mezzanine, either in the “boats” (left and right center), where you have a great vantage point from the front, or along the side where the seats wrap behind the stage and offer a view of all the percussion action, even if the sound experience isn’t the same. In the Kauffman Center’s 1,800 seat Kauffman Theater, especially for dance, I prefer to sit toward the back and higher up, to get the wider visual, either farther up in the Orchestra or in the Mezzanine.

In only a few short years, the rooms of the 1900 Building at Shawnee Mission Parkway and State Line Road have seen some incredible performances in both the intimate Rose Hall (about 100 seats) and the spacious Parkway Room (about 300). The seating is flexible, and if it’s a full house they put out higher seats along the back wall. The space hosts faculty and guests from Park University’s International Center for Music recital series, chamber groups brought in by Friends of Chamber Music, and the Cecilia Series, highlighting women composers and performers, along with jazz, folk music and film showings.

More than 100 years old, the Folly Theater has seen a lot of changes on the corner of 12th and Central, but with the renovation of the lobby last season, it’s still got it. True, there’s more legroom in the lower level, but I like the vantage point from the last row in the lower balcony, snagging an aisle seat.

Diastole Scholars’ Center, near UMKC’s Hospital Hill at 2501 Holmes, is an ideal venue for chamber music and includes a selection of books and art as well as gardens to stimulate the senses. Both students from UMKC Conservatory and local professionals have performed in the homey, intimate space.

Historically, religious institutions have long fostered musical endeavors, and around Kansas City that is no exception, with churches welcoming choirs and instrumental ensembles from the region. Many of the churches have traditional pews, so a vantage point with good visuals can be challenging, but not always necessary. That said, I try to get to concerts early enough to get a seat just a few rows removed from the dais, on an outside aisle.


Music Calendar

Kansas City Symphony presents Film and Live Orchestra “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”
Sept. 4 – 6, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 8, 3 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Bach Aria Soloists: BAS 20th Birthday: Bach, Beer & Bites
Sept. 8, 5:30 p.m.
Boulevard Brewing Company
www.bachariasoloists.com

Harriman Jewel Series: Special Engagement: The Four Italian Tenors
Sept. 14, 6 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.hjseries.org

Kansas City Symphony Free Happy Hour Chamber Music Series: Bassooner or Later, It’s Elvis
Sept. 17, 6 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Ensemble Ibérica: Flamenco Andaluz
Sept. 17 and 18, 7:30 p.m.
Musical Theater Heritage
www.ensembleiberica.org

Park University — International Center for Music: Stanislav & Friends
Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.park.edu/icm

Lyric Opera of Kansas City: “The Abduction from the Seraglio”
Sept. 21, 25, 27 and 29, times vary
Kauffman Center
www.kcopera.org

Kansas City Symphony: Symphony in Space
Sept. 22, 2 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Friends of Chamber Music: Calidore String Quartet with violist Matthew Lipman
Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m.
1900 Building
www.chambermusic.org

Kansas City Young Audiences benefit concert: Renee Elise Goldsberry with the Kansas City Symphony
Sept. 28, 8 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Kansas City Symphony: “Finlandia” and Schumann’s Piano Concerto
Oct. 4 – 6, times vary
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Harriman Jewell Series: Randal Goosby, Violinist in Free Recital
Oct. 5, 7 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.hjseries.org

Spire Chamber Ensemble: This is Spire: Celebrating 10 Years
Oct. 6, 3 p.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church
www.spirechamberensemble.org

Kauffman Center Presents: Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer
Oct. 9, 7 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kauffmancenter.org

Friends of Chamber Music: Rolston Quartet
Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.
1900 Building
www.chambermusic.org

Carlsen Center Presents: Russian Renaissance
Oct. 11, 8 p.m.
Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College
www.jccc.edu/CarlsenCenter

newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble: “Immaterial and Intangible”
Oct. 12 8 p.m.; Oct. 13, 3 p.m.
Diastole Scholars’ Center
www.newear.org

Ensemble Ibérica: Nadia
Oct. 14 and 15, 7:30 p.m.
Musical Theater Heritage
www.ensembleiberica.org

Kansas City Symphony Free Chamber Concert: Music and the Holocaust
Oct. 16, 6 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Harriman-Jewell Series: Nadine Sierra, Soprano in Recital
Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.hjseries.org

Bach Aria Soloists: The 20th Annual October Hauskonzert
Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Private Residence in Mission Hills
www.bachariasoloists.com

Friends of Chamber Music: Fretwork with countertenor Iestyn Davies
Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.
Linda Hall Library
www.chambermusic.org

Kansas City Chorale: Faure, Brahms, Mozart
Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m.
Village Presbyterian Church
www.kcchorale.org

Kansas City Symphony: Brahms’ Fourth and Bach’s Fantasia
Oct. 25 – 27, times vary
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Kansas City Symphony presents Silent Film + Live Organ: The Phantom of the Opera
Oct. 29, 7 p.m.
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Park University — International Center for Music 1900 Series: Behzod Abduraimov, Piano
Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.
1900 Building
www.park.edu/icm

UMKC Conservatory: Rossini’s “La cambiale di matrimonio” and Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”
Oct. 31 – Nov. 3, times vary
White Recital Hall
www.conservatory.umkc.edu

Kansas City Symphony: Stern conducts Bruckner’s Seventh
Nov. 1 – 3, times vary
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Friends of Chamber Music: Sergei Babayan, pianist
Nov. 3, 2:30 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.chambermusic.org

Lyric Opera of Kansas City:
“La bohème”
Nov. 9, 13, 15 and 17, times vary
Kauffman Center
www.kcopera.org

Park University — International Center for Music 1900 Series: Jan Jiracek von Arnim, Piano
Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.
1900 Building
www.park.edu/icm

Kansas City Symphony: “Also sprach Zarathustra” with Mahler and Leshnoff
Nov. 22 – 24, times vary
Kauffman Center
www.kcsymphony.org

Friends of Chamber Music: Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble
Nov. 24, 2:30 p.m.
Village Presbyterian Church
www.chambermusic.org

Harriman-Jewell Series: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays
Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m.
Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
www.hjseries.org

Kansas City Chorale: Wintersong
Dec. 5, 5 p.m.
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
www.kcchorale.org

Heartland Men’s Chorus: Making Spirits Bright
Dec. 7, 8 p.m.; Dec. 8, 4 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.hmckc.org

newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble: “Motion and Migration”
Dec. 7, 8 p.m.; Dec. 8, 3 p.m.
Diastole Scholars’ Center
www.newear.org

Friends of Chamber Music:
The Tallis Scholars
Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
www.chambermusic.org

Bach Aria Soloists: Holiday Concert
Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
www.bachariasoloists.com

Harriman Jewell Series: Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Cellist in Recital
Dec. 15, 5 p.m.
Folly Theater
www.hjseries.org

Ensemble Ibérica: Cruzando
Dec. 20, 8 p.m.
St Paul’s Episcopal Church
www.ensembleiberica.org

About The Author: Libby Hanssen

Libby Hanssen

Originally from Indiana, Libby Hanssen covers the performing arts in Kansas City. She’s written for KCUR, “KC Studio,” “The Kansas City Star,” “The Pitch” and “KCMetropolis.” Libby maintains the culture blog “Proust Eats A Sandwich” and writes poetry and children’s books. Along with degrees in trombone performance, she was a Fellow for the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at Columbia University.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *