choral music | KCUR

choral music

Spire Chamber Ensemble

A few times a year, select musicians from all over North America come together in Kansas City.

Assembling with a few of their locally based colleagues just a few days before show time, they pull off an impressive feat: a concert encompassing centuries-worth of styles, and techniques both ancient and modern.

Anne Kniggendorf

Rob Hill was pretty sure he had the makings of the fabled great American novel. But the retired Army lieutenant colonel isn’t much of a writer, so his idea for a story about who was buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers didn’t pan out.

He did have a creative outlet, though, one that led Hill to think he could tell the post-World War I story through song. A member of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, Hill took his idea to Artistic Director Dustin Cates.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: With deadline looming, Kansas lawmakers struggle to find funding plan that satisfies the state's legislature and supreme court.

Te Deum

Kansas City choral conductor Matthew Shepard has wanted to perform “Seven Last Words from the Cross” for more than a decade.

A modern choral masterwork, it tackles the Bible's dramatic story of the reflective moments leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.

Shepard was attracted to Scottish composer James MacMillan’s strong, clear use of musical metaphor, which adds a cinematic element to the sacred work. Words are whispered, strained, proclaimed, set against gnarly chords and frenzied, fidgety strings.

Courtesy William Baker

“It could be said that Kansas City is blessed with as many fountains like Rome, many boulevards like Paris and many composers like Vienna,” says William Baker, the founder and director of his namesake William Baker Festival Singers.

Audiences get a chance to hear just a few of the pieces by those notable area composers, some living and some long gone, when Baker’s ensemble presents a Festival of Kansas City Composers this weekend.

The U.S. National Archives

When President Harry Truman moved into the White House, he thought the creaks and groans meant it was haunted. It turns out it was just in imminent danger of collapse. Today, hear the story of how the executive mansion was completely gutted and restored. Then, what takes more than seven years and 900 international volunteers to complete?

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

After a carol from the Heartland Men's Chorus, we delve into The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art exhibition featuring a 16th century piece of music you have to hear to believe. Then, we explore how museums serve as places for community congregation, not simply as repositories for art.

flickr user Scott Unrein

The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, celebrating its 61st season, performs about six concerts a year in St. Louis, Missouri. This Saturday, the choral group sings on the other side of the state at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Kansas City. 

Artistic director Philip Barnes, a native of Great Britain, has been at the helm since 1989.

Prairie Village has the distinction among Kansas cities of being the hometown of not one — but two! — operatic prodigies. Hear the latest tenor voice that's delighting audiences from California to Carnegie Hall. Then, we examine a different way to frame victims of sexual violence and the concept of rape itself. Finally, the latest Statehouse Blend Kansas, recorded live in Wichita.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Mark Hayes’s musical career started with a decision: piano lessons or band instrument?

He was going to grade school in Normal, Illinois, and his school offered lessons. Since he had three siblings, his parents said that they could afford to pay for either one or the other.

He chose the piano, and, as he said, he never looked back.

More than a thousand of his musical works have been published, and they're performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to your local church choir loft. We hear from Kansas City's own Mark Hayes, about his journey from playing the church piano as a teen, to becoming an internationally-known composer out of his home in KC. 

Guest:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

As a young child growing up in South Africa, Gillian Power sang in school and church choirs.

"It was one of the things I remember from that time as so deeply joyful," Power says.

Now, Power is in her early forties. She came out publicly as transgender in early 2014. Her transition has included voice lessons.

"Many transgender people really struggle with their voice on many levels – their speaking voice, their telephone voice, their radio voice — and especially their singing voice," she says.

Using Music As Therapy

Oct 30, 2013
Children's Hospital Colorado / Google Images -- CC

Music therapy has been a growing form of complementary medicine for the past 50 years. Studies have shown music therapy can help with everything from Alzheimer’s to depression to developmental disorders and even cancer treatment. 

We invited three local music therapists to speak about local and national research being conducted, as well as their own experience in using vocal and instrumental music in a patient's treatment and recovery process. 

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The signature style of the vocal group Octarium is eight singers, blended into one voice. After a decade of performances, this weekend marks the group's farewell concert. Octarium anticipates continuing to perform at least once a year, over the holidays.