Kansas City Symphony

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. 

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.

Beth Lipoff / KCUR 89.3

He’s played with the likes of Kansas City-great Count Basie, though he’s best known for leading The Tonight Show band when Johnny Carson was hosting. 

Doc Severinsen is back in Kansas City for a holiday performance with the Kansas City Symphony and chorus this weekend.

He spoke with Steve Kraske on Up To Date earlier this week, where they talked about his early career and his time with The Tonight Show

But Severinsen wasn’t quite finished at the end of the interview. 

After his appearance on Up To Date, Severinsen wanted to stick around to talk about one of our favorite subjects — Kansas City. 

Doc Severinsen is best known for leading The Tonight Show band when Johnny Carson was host. In this conversation with Steve Kraske, Severinsen recalls starting under the tutelage of his father then moving on to the likes of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman before landing the gig he would play for thirty years.

After his appearance on Up To Date, former Tonight Show band leader Doc Severinsen wanted to stick around to talk about one of our favorite subjects — Kansas City. Hear him rave about our music scene, our sports teams and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Two classical music organizations, Kansas City Symphony and the Kansas City Chorale, will be vying for the Best Engineered Album, Classical, in the 58th annual Grammy awards. The nominees were announced Monday morning.

"I think it's excellent for Kansas City," says Kansas City Symphony's executive director Frank Byrne, "because it brings attention to the great work being done here and it gives our entire city a great deal of which we can be proud." 

Todd Rosenberg Photography

It's been a decade since Michael Stern started his appointment as the fourth music director of the Kansas City Symphony.

Stern's contract with the Symphony was up in June 2016, and it was not a given that he would choose to stay. But officials announced Wednesday that his contract has been extended through the 2019 - 2020 season.

He’s won half a dozen Grammy’s and been nominated for more than 20 Academy Awards. On this edition of Up To Date, Steve Kraske asks musician and composer Randy Newman five questions from his biggest influences to how he really feels about short people.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in May 2015.    

Musicians in the Kansas City Symphony play a lot of places out in the community, but earlier this week they found themselves in one place they’d never been: Lansing Correctional Facility. For the first time, they played a concert for inmates.

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.

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