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Kansas City Symphony

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Three Kansas City Symphony musicians recently performed their final concerts with an arts organization they've been with since its inception. 

Principal tuba player Steve Seward, bassoonist Marita Abner and oboe and English horn player Ken Lawrence retired after the Symphony's season ended last weekend. All three were hired by the Symphony in 1982, when the orchestra was founded by R. Crosby Kemper, Jr.

Anne Kniggendorf

Dennis McCurdy had a stroke on October 22, 2000. At the time, he had no idea that the stroke would cause vascular dementia; that diagnosis came nearly a decade later.

The 13th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills event took place on June 9 in Butler County. KMUW’s Ascha Lee files this Audio Postcard, featuring music from the Kansas City Symphony and voices from Gov. Jeff Colyer and special guest singer Aoife O’Donovan.


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Segment 1: Proposed 3/8th-cent sales tax could expand early childhood education.

In an effort to provide quality education to more of Kansas City's youth, Mayor Sly James has proposed a new sales tax that would fund pre-K schools. While almost everyone can agree access to pre-K education should be expanded, some residents have reservations about where the money to pay for it comes from and how it's collected.

Elizabeth Stehling / Kansas City Ballet

When the Kansas City Ballet performs George Balanchine's “Diamonds” for its 60th Anniversary Dance Festival next weekend, Elysa Hotchkiss will be in one of 17 couples on stage.  

"You feel a lot of breath and a lot of movement, and see the stage moving as a whole in this ballet because there’s so many of us on stage moving as one," she recently said of Balanchine's choreography.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

She's taken her craft from Barcelona to Beijing, but this weekend Joyce DiDonato will grace a stage much closer to home.

Before the Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano brings the music of Leonard Bernstein and Hector Berlioz to life at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, we sat down for a wide-ranging conversation on KCUR's Up To Date. We talked about the kindlings of her now red-hot career, an upcoming tour to Moscow, and recent student protests that have captured the nation's attention.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Prairie Village's mezzo-soprano presents music of Berlioz and Bernstein  with Kansas City Symphony.

Joyce DiDonato has performed on famed stages from Beijing to Barcelona. Today, we sat down with the Prairie Village native to talk about bringing her "In War & Peace" tour to Moscow, working with prisoners at Sing Sing Correctional Facility and her upcoming performance series at Kauffman Center.

Florian Kalotay

Even Kansas City sports fans love the elite opera star Joyce DiDonato, who grew up in the area and graduated from Bishop Miege High School in 1987.

DiDonato returns this weekend to perform with the Kansas City Symphony, interpreting works by Leonard Bernstein and Hector Berlioz while Michael Stern conducts.

Since becoming a star, DiDonato has used her prominent platform to advocate for social causes, including support for the LGBTQ community.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Your might think combining jazz and a symphony would like trying to mix oil and water — they don't just go together. Yet jazz artists, including Kansas City's own Charlie Parker, have combined their playing with those of an orchestra to great results.

Kansas City is home to the best brass band in the country. Hear more about the Fountain City Brass Band, which recently placed second and third at two international brass band competitions.

Then, the concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony discusses his labor of love: performing in Shir Ami, a group that revives the lost music of the Holocaust.

courtesy: Reference Recordings

The nominees for the 60th annual Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and the Kansas City Symphony performs on a record nominated in two categories.

The recording is Adam Schoenberg: American Symphony; Finding Rothko; Picture Studies, and it features the Kansas City Symphony conducted by music director Michael Stern

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The executive director of the Kansas City Symphony is a busy man, but Frank Byrne has carved out some time for Up To Date. Today, he leads us through a Shostakovich symphony he's been listening to a lot lately. Then, we learn about the reporting, the writing, and the living Ernest Hemingway did in Kansas City during his 18th year of life.

Courtesy Mary Anne Andrei

Author Ted Genoways is coming to town this Saturday for a reading from his book, The Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm. Why he advocates for more stories of ordinary Midwesterners.

Plus, there are no women composers in the Kansas City Symphony's classical composer series. Why is there a gender gap in classical music? 

Guests:

Todd Rosenberg

After a five-year fundraising campaign, the Kansas City Symphony announced Wednesday that it had accomplished its goal of raising $55 million for its endowment fund, which will now total more than $100 million.

In a news release, the Symphony reported that 1,000 donors had pledged gifts ranging from $10 to $10 million over the five-year period.

Courtesy Melissa Etheridge

Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge was moved to hear how her music had affected fans during a conversation on KCUR's Up to Date on Friday before a weekend of performances with the Kansas City Symphony.

Eric Williams / Kansas City Symphony

Many composers have set the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead to music. Mozart, Berlioz, Brahms and Verdi famously come to mind. Their compositions are considered masterpieces.

But Benjamin Britten’s genius was to juxtapose the austere and solemn Latin of the Requiem liturgy with the visceral and searing poetry of Wilfred Owen, who served in the British Army during World War I and died in France just days before the Armistice was signed.

Courtesy Through A Glass Productions

The Kansas City Symphony has released an album of music it commissioned from one of America's most promising composers. We learn about that collaboration, and about the composer's creative process. Then, Langston Hughes lived in Lawrence until just after high school, but still managed to leave a legacy of activism there.

David Bickley

Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was a pianist. But some of the music Bartók wrote for strings, inspired by folk music, is considered among his most expressive and inventive. 

This weekend, Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller will be the featured soloist in Bartók's Violin Concerto No. 2. 

Chris Lee

The Kansas City Symphony has been quietly fundraising over the last four years with the goal of adding $55 million to its endowment. On Wednesday, in front of more than 100 donors and arts officials on the stage of Helzberg Hall, the Symphony announced that they'd raised nearly $52 million.

Now, they're seeking public support for the "Masterpiece Campaign."

courtesy Kansas City Symphony and Community of Christ.

Updated: 2:15 p.m.

A tradition comes to an end after this holiday season, with the Independence Messiah Choir's final performance of Handel's oratorio Messiah with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus.

Beginning in September, the Independence Messiah Choir meets each Tuesday at the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, Missouri, for Messiah rehearsals. This week, members of the choir were told this year would be their final performance with the Symphony. 

Eric Williams/Kansas City Symphony

This season, Kansas City Symphony audiences will discover a new assistant conductor leading the pops, family, and Screenland at the Symphony concerts: Jason Seber.

Seber relocated to Kansas City just a few months ago from Louisville, Kentucky, after three seasons as education and outreach director of the Louisville Orchestra and 11 years as music director of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. 

I recently talked with Seber about his background and expectations in Kansas City.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

For five years, the sounds of violins strumming, ballet slippers prancing, and opera singers hitting high notes have filled the performance halls of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. In a live broadcast from the iconic structure's massive foyer, Up to Date visits some of the people who make it all possible.

Guests:

Hannah Copeland / KCUR

About 7,000 volunteers and patrons traveled to a pasture on Saturday, June 11, near Cottonwood Falls, Kansas to listen to the Kansas City Symphony perform at the 11th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills.

As the sun began to set Saturday evening the crowd's attention was diverted to the co-stars of the outdoor concert: cows. Volunteer ranchers on horseback herded brown, white and black cattle across the bright green grassy hill behind the Symphony stage.

Todd Rosenberg

Musicians in the Kansas City Symphony will get a salary increase of nearly twenty percent over the next four years, along with increases in other benefits after successful contract negotiations, the Symphony has announced.

Classical Piano Selections with Frank Byrne

Mar 4, 2016

Frank Byrne, executive director of the Kansas City Symphony, returns to Up to Date with his picks of recorded piano compositions.

Selections:

The Kansas City Symphony is bringing Matthew Morrison to town for a one-night-only performance in March. Best known for his role as the optimistic high school glee club director Will Shuster on the TV show “Glee,” the star also has a long career on Broadway to his credit and a recently released album, Where It All Began

Ah, love. Many musicians have been inspired by it — whether or not their stories had a happy ending. As we gear up for the most romantic day of the year, we listen to classical music from the Romantic Era.

Guest:

  • Dr. Amity Bryson is the Chair of the Music Department at Avila University.

Selections:

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

If you're the parent of young children — especially under the age of 5 — it might be difficult to picture them at a classical music concert. No talking, listening quietly, sitting still, and not kicking the seat in front of them for more than a hour? 

The Kansas City Symphony is working to break down some of those perceived barriers with a new program called Petite Performances — for the youngest audiences, ages zero to 6. This series invites listeners on stage for a short concert at Helzberg Hall, up close to the musicians and their instruments. 

A Year In The Arts In KC

Dec 23, 2015

This was the year the Kansas City Ballet re-imagined “The Nutcracker.” Henry David Thoreau and Barbra Streisand got theatrical treatments, and the Kansas City Symphony had a variety of soloists. On this edition of Up to Date, we turn a critical eye to the arts in the Kansas City area this year.

Guests:

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The coming of the holidays typically means more time with family, which is the best gift to give or receive.

Even so, extra family time can contribute to holiday stress – whether it’s dealing with bored kids on Christmas break or hosting relatives you haven’t seen since the last time you felt this frazzled.

Happily, the holiday season also comes with family friendly entertainments and attractions that provide an alternative to being cooped up with dear ones who might be driving you crazy. I said, might. Whew, that was close.

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