Kansas City Symphony

Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 is joyful and romantic — fitting for the season, as we bid adieu to the bitter winter weather.

“It was written when Dvorak was at a resort, and this symphony sounds like that,” Kansas City Symphony executive director Frank Byrne told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

courtesy: Kansas City Symphony

The Kansas City Symphony's associate conductor, Aram Demirjian, just on the heels of conducting his first classical series concert in Kansas City, is one of six finalists for music director of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO). 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, many artists put their art-making on hold, leaving their studios for the battlefield. Some in the United States waited for years for their country to enter the conflict, and others forged a new path in neutral Switzerland. It was a time of radical approaches in music, visual arts and literature. And now, local arts organizations are marking the centennial of the Great War. 

Music reflects change

Eric Williams / Kansas City Symphony

It’s not often that tuba players get to be the ones on melody.

That changes once a year, though, when the Kansas City Symphony puts on Tuba Christmas, where hundreds of tuba players from all around the metro gather to play traditional holiday songs. Because of popular demand, there are now two Tuba Christmases.

Photo courtesy of Chris Lee / Kansas City Symphony

The Kansas City Symphony’s Classics Uncorked series is a more informal concert experience — shorter and with a theme. This weekend’s program, called Bohemian Rhapsody, features works by Dvorák, Bizet ... and Queen.

Nick Hersh, assistant conductor at the Baltimore Symphony, and Aram Demirjian, associate conductor at the Kansas City Symphony, met a few years ago at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen. They conducted and stood as partners for two summers in the cello section of the Conductors' Orchestra. 

Beth Buchanan / Kansas City Symphony

Singer-songwriter Ben Folds had a strongly worded message for an audience at a sold-out Kansas City Symphony concert at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts this week: "Cities without symphony orchestras are crap."

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Google Glass has been in the news lately as more people are trying it out. This wearable technology is still in the beta version, but about 10,000 people are now testing it, including a Kansas City-based mobile development firm. And in January, they partnered with the Kansas City Symphony – to provide four  different views on stage.

Living with devices since the beginning of mobile

Beth Buchanan / Kansas City Symphony

Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell spends 250 days a year on the road, performing with orchestras around the world. This weekend, Bell returns to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts as a featured soloist for the Kansas City Symphony

A child prodigy who first started taking violin lessons at the age of 4, Bell debuted at Carnegie Hall at the age of 17. Since that time, he's performed with many of the world's major orchestras and conductors with his expressive and physical style.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

This weekend, Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller performs his first solo performance in the Symphony's classical series with a beloved work by Beethoven, his Violin Concerto.

Michael Lutch / audramcdonald.net

She’s won Tony awards and dazzled Hollywood, and now Audra McDonald is blending her voice with the Kansas City Symphony. 

On Friday's Up to Date, we talk with the versatile songstress about her career and how she’s using her fame to support causes like marriage equality and pet adoption.

Guest:

Blackhawk Films/Image Entertainment

The Phantom of the Opera, a 1925 silent film, tells the story of an organist who lurks beneath an opera house. This Halloween night, organist Aaron David Miller will be in plain sight at the Kauffman Center, when he provides the soundtrack for a screening of this film.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Violinist Stefan Jackiw rehearsed at Helzberg Hall before the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was open, but didn't get to play there. This weekend, Jackiw returns to perform on stage with the Kansas City Symphony - and also reconnects with a childhood friend.

Getting back to work at Helzberg Hall

Chris Lee / Kansas City Symphony

It’s been called a "tumultuous time" for orchestras across the United States with labor disputes leading to strikes and lockouts. But the Kansas City Symphony, the city’s largest performing arts organization, announced a new three-year contract Friday with musicians signed a year ahead of schedule.

The Symphony's executive director Frank Byrne says work started on the contract in January 2013, about 18 months before the expiration.

Kansas City Symphony

After working as an assistant conductor with Kansas City Symphony for a year now, Aram Demirjian is taking on a new role: associate conductor for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.

This past season at the Symphony has been one of the greatest musical years of his life, Demirjian said.

"When you're a young conductor, what you desire more than anything else is just time in front of an orchestra," he said. "And it was an incredible blessing and privilege to be able to do so."

Matt Kleinmann / Matt Kleinmann Photography

In years past, Bill and Julia McBride turned to their tallgrass prairie backyard in Matfield Green, Kan., to hear the Kansas City Symphony echoing across the Flint Hills.

But this year, the McBrides made a two-hour trek north to Fort Riley, the northeastern Kansas Army base where Civil War figure Maj. Gen. George Custer once lived. The base hosted this year’s Symphony in the Flint Hills, an annual performance – now in its eighth year – that brings one of the city’s premiere arts organizations to the middle of Kansas.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

There are some artists, like musicians and dancers, whose contracts are for roughly 40 weeks a year. So, how do they spend the rest of their time?

We asked Kansas City Symphony musicians, on contract for a 42-week season, to share stories about their plans for the off-season.

Miles Maner, associate principal, bassoonist and contrabassoonist

On learning to love the bassoon

courtesy: Kansas City Symphony

After nearly 20 years as the chairwoman of the Kansas City Symphony's board, arts patron Shirley Helzberg is stepping down. Bill Lyons, civic leader and former CEO of American Century Companies, Inc., succeeds Helzberg on July 1.

In the second part of Wednesday's Central Standard, we'll talk with Stephanie Brimhall, Education Manager at the Kansas City Symphony, about the Young Artist Competition.

This weekend, on stage at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, young musicians will compete in the final round. Violinists Caleb Thill and Emily Shehi and vocalist Rudy Dibble also join us in the studio to discuss their musical backgrounds - and their hopes and fears about the competition.

Big Tuba Turnout At This Year’s Tuba Christmas

Dec 16, 2012
Zack Lewandowski / KCUR

Tuba Christmas was founded by Harvey Phillips, a Missouri native, more than 30 years ago.  It brings tuba and euphonium players together once a year to play a concert of traditional holiday songs for the season. 

The 2013 Grammy nominations are out - and two nominees are based in Kansas City.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

This season, the Kansas City Symphony focuses on the theme of “Symphonic Pictures," exploring the intersection between art and music.

Aram Demirjian joined the Kansas City Symphony as the new assistant conductor for the 2012-13 season. In this role, Demirjian conducts the Family and Pops Series concerts and other select concerts.

Nick Heavican / Virgin Classics

Prairie Village native Joyce DiDonato just won a Grammy for best classical vocal solo and travels the world performing in opera houses far and wide as one of this planet's best-loved mezzo sopranos.

A Move for "Messiah"

Dec 2, 2011
Laura Spencer/KCUR

This year marks the first time Handel’s Messiah will not be performed at the Community of Christ Auditorium in Independence, Mo. since 1916.

The challenge: how to transfer the sound of almost 250 voices - the combined Kansas City Symphony Chorus and the Independence Messiah Choir -  from a cavernous hall to the more intimate Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo.

photos: Laura Spencer/KCUR

Three world premieres are slated for the Kansas City Symphony's inaugural season in Helzberg Hall. And they all take inspiration from a Kansas City trademark: fountains. The first, by renowned composer Chen Yi, called Fountains of Kansas City, premieres this weekend.

Kansas City, Mo. – Born and raised in China, Dr. Chen has lived and taught in Kansas City for more than a decade at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.