Fall Music and Dance: A Sampling of the Season’s Best

Carmen’s gypsy troupe from the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s 2015 production of “Carmen” (photo by Cory Weaver)

Performances include beloved fan favorites, new partnerships, world premieres and anniversary celebrations

This season promises to be one of exciting firsts and brings the return of some favorite artists to the halls of Kansas City. Performances include beloved fan favorites, new partnerships, world premieres and anniversary celebrations, with classical music and dance offerings that represent the best of the genre. Here’s a sampling of some not-to-be-missed productions:

Kansas City Ballet dancer Joshua Bodden in “In Close Proximity,” choreographed by Stephanie Martinez as part of KC Ballet’s 2016 New Moves. Martinez is working with KCB for this fall’s New Dance Partners performance presented by Midwest Trust Center. (photo by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios)

New Dance Partners: The Ultimate Collaboration
Sept. 16 and 17, 8 p.m., Midwest Trust Center, Yardley Hall, www.jccc.edu/midwest-trust-center

Now in its ninth year, New Dance Partners continues its promise to bring inventive collaborations to Kansas City audiences. This season they’ve paired the Kansas City Ballet with Chicago-based Stephanie Martinez; Owen/Cox Dance Group with Bryan Arias, co-founder of Switzerland-based company Snorkle Rabbit; Störling Dance Theatre with UCLA professor Victoria Marks; and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company with Charissa Barton.

Lyric Opera of Kansas City: “Carmen” 
Sept. 24 and Sept. 30, Oct. 2, times vary, Kauffman Center, kcopera.org

The Lyric Opera of Kansas City brings back Georges Bizet’s popular “Carmen” to open its season. Mezzo Ginger Costa Jackson returns to Kansas City for the signature role, following a delightful performance in “Lyric Opera Goes to Hollywood” in 2021. Making their Lyric Opera debuts are conductor Roberto Kalb and director/choreographer Anna Maria Bruzzese.

Terence Blanchard (Harriman-Jewell Series)

Harriman-Jewell Series: Terence Blanchard with the E-Collective and Turtle Island Quartet 
Oct. 2, 7 p.m., Atkins Auditorium, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, www.hjseries.org

Making their Harriman-Jewell Series debuts, trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard tours his latest studio album, “Absence,” with his band E-Collective and the genre-bending Turtle Island Quartet. Blanchard is a multifaceted artist, whose opera “Fire Shut Up In My Bones” was the first opera by a Black composer performed at the Metropolitan Opera. This is the first concert for the Harriman-Jewell Series this season, presented at the Atkins Auditorium at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Kansas City Symphony with Josh Jones, percussion concerto
Oct. 7-9, times vary, Kauffman Center, www.kcsymphony.org
The Kansas City Symphony presents a strongly themed program of nature-and-ecology-related works conducted by music director Michael Stern. KCS principal percussionist Josh Jones is the soloist for Adam Schoenberg’s “Losing Earth,” a statement on climate change. Iman Habibi’s “Jeder Baum Spricht” (Every Tree Speaks) considers Ludwig van Beethoven’s influences from nature reimagined for the current era. The concert includes Richard Strauss’ “An Alpine Symphony,” depicting man’s awe at nature’s majesty. This is Stern’s final season with the orchestra as music director.

Marin Alsop (Adriane White)

Harriman-Jewell Series Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, with Marin Alsop
Oct. 10, 7 p.m., Kauffman Center, www.hjseries.org

Internationally renowned conductor Marin Alsop served as principal conductor from Brazilian ensemble Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo from 2013 to 2020 and now holds the title Conductor of Honor. It’s Alsop’s first time conducting in Helzberg Hall and the orchestra’s Kansas City debut. The concert features works by Heitor Villa-Lobos, including his Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra, with soloist José Staneck. This may very well be the first harmonica concerto ever performed in Kansas City.

Kansas City Ballet: “Giselle”
Oct. 14-16, 21-23, times vary, Kauffman Center, kcballet.org

This is the tenth season for Kansas City Ballet artistic director, Devon Carney. The ballet presents three works choreographed by Carney this season, including a lavish “Giselle.” This ethereal and heartbreaking “ballet-fantastique” was a hit when they premiered it in 2015 and is not to be missed by fans of classical ballet.

Ulysses String Quartet (photo by Lauren Desberg)
Damien Sneed directs “Our Song, Our Story” at the Folly Theater Nov. 20. (DG/Dario Acosta)

Friends of Chamber Music: Ulysses String Quartet “Lift Every Voice” 
Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m., The Loretto, chambermusic.org
While it’s difficult to choose a favorite from the Friends of Chamber Music’s roster of internationally acclaimed ensembles, the Ulysses String Quartet presents an intriguing program of diverse voices in their concert “Lift Every Voice.” Along with work by Dmitri Shostakovich and Felix Mendelssohn, they’ll perform pieces by Joan Tower, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh and Rhiannon Giddens at The Loretto.

Harriman-Jewell Series: “Our Song, Our Story: The New Generation of Black Voices” 
Nov. 20, 6 p.m., Folly Theater, www.hjseries.org
Under the direction and imagination of Damien Sneed, “Our Song, Our Story” pays tribute to the artists — such as Marian Anderson and Jessye Norman — whose talent and perseverance created opportunities for African American opera singers through the generations. Sneed performs on piano with mezzo Raehann Bryce-Davis and soprano Brandie Inez Sutton, along with a string quartet. Presented by the Harriman-Jewell Series, the evening-length performance at the Folly Theater includes arias,
art songs and spirituals.

Behzod Abduraimov (Park International Center for Music)

Behzod Abduraimov with the Kansas City Symphony 
Nov. 25-27, times vary, Kauffman Center, www.kcsymphony.org

Cap off Thanksgiving weekend with award-winning pianist and Park International Center for Music graduate Behzod Abduraimov, who returns as soloist with the Kansas City Symphony. Undoubtedly, they’ll offer a vigorous performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s vivid, commanding Piano Concerto No. 2. The concert includes Bedřich Smetana’s overture to “The Bartered Bride” and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8.

tenThing Brass Ensemble (IMG Artists)

Midwest Trust Center: tenThing Brass Ensemble
Dec. 2, 8 p.m., Midwest Trust Center, Yardley Hall, www.jccc.edu/midwest-trust-center

Virtuoso trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth formed the all-female brass ensemble tenThing in 2007. The internationally touring ensemble returns to Kansas City for a performance at the Midwest Trust Center, celebrating traditions from Europe and the U.S. with holiday selections in “A Feeling of Norwegian Christmas.”

Libby Hanssen

Originally from Indiana, Libby Hanssen covers the performing arts in Kansas City. She is the author of States of Swing: The History of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, 2003-2023. Along with degrees in trombone performance, Libby was a Fellow for the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at Columbia University. She maintains the culture bog "Proust Eats a Sandwich."

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