Kansas City Symphony

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.

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.

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