Music

Ken Howard / Metropolitan Opera

Olathe, Kansas, native Scott Conner has performed on North American and European stages. Last month marked Conner's debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Through May 13, Conner plays the police commissioner in a new production of Richard Strauss’s opera, Der Rosenkavalier. One highlight: He shares the stage with opera diva Renée Fleming, who stars in a signature role as the aristocrat, the Marschallin.

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.

Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Courtesy Summer Breeze

Lenexa drummer and philanthropist Billy Brimblecom says he’s put blood, sweat, and tears into trying to be an original musician.

“But seriously, one of the most fun and — dare I say — at least locally successful things I’ve done, is this.”

The clowns are coming to town! That's right, there's a Clown Convention happening in the Northland this week. We check in with a few locals on the art and lifestyle of being a clown.

Plus, musician Greg Wickham joins us to talk about his new album "Almost to Springfield."

Guests:

Courtesy Jim Murray

Jim Murray will never forget the first time he heard "Study for Strings" by the Czech composer Pavel Haas. It was a performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra in Kansas City back when Murray was a junior at William Jewell College.

Alicia Solo

As the dynamic singer of the now-defunct Beautiful Bodies, Alicia Solombrino was a whirlwind front person, displaying as much energy with her free-spirited stage antics as any contemporary Kansas City musician.

Courtesy Lalah Hathaway

Six weeks after stumbling over the roll-out of a major new jazz festival scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, leaders of the American Jazz Museum made the announcement again Thursday, this time joined by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and City Councilman Jermaine Reed.

Courtesy Eddie Moore

Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle, a youthful group of forward-thinking jazz-based musicians, is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished ensembles.

The core Outer Circle band currently consists of keyboardist Moore, guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist DeAndre Manning and drummer Zach Morrow. The band occasionally tours (it has a gig in Austin later this month) and Moore hosts a weekly jazz jam session every Wednesday at Californos and a monthly showcase at the Tank Room, in which he collaborates with hip-hop artists.

Amy Britain

Culture wars were raging. The National Endowment for the Arts was under threat. A conservative senator from a southern state was earning his reputation as a "prominent unabashed white racist." Protesters were hitting the streets.

"It was a really interesting time," Mark Manning says of the early 1990s. "Similar to now."

Courtesy Katy Guillen & The Girls

Katy Guillen & the Girls — the blues-rock trio of guitarist Katy Guillen, bassist Claire Adams and drummer Stephanie Williams — is one of Kansas City’s most accomplished bands, touring regularly throughout the country.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The artist: Calvin Arsenia

The song: "Kansas City, Baby"

The album: Catastrophe

The accompaniment: Jessica Paige (vocals), Coleen Dieker (violin), Joe Donley (upright bass)

The story: Calvin Arsenia calls his music neo-classical urban folk. His signature instrument is pretty unusual – it's a harp.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Peter I. Tchaikovsky wrote three classic ballets, but until now, the Kansas City Ballet has only performed two of them: Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Besides completing its repertoire of Tchaikovsky ballets, the company's premiere of The Sleeping Beauty is a case study in how setting a ballet to the great composer’s music requires changing it.

Courtesy Second Hand King

Working as Second Hand King, the locally based Joe Stanziola is a self-described “doo-wop rap” artist.

The new Kansas City label Haymaker Records just released a compilation album featuring local artists. After a taste of the album, we pivot from "math rock" to straight up science, with one KU sociologist whose research sheds light on a connection between success in life and genetic makeup.

Courtesy Sky Smeed

An 11 a.m. Sunday slot at any festival, especially the Kansas City Folk Festival, is a dicey gig, and Lawrence singer-songwriter Sky Smeed admits his morning show last month made him anxious. Turned out that anxiety was unnecessary: The room filled up with people who weren't just awake — they were enthusiastic.

Courtesy Victor & Penny

The delightful vocalist Erin McGrane and the accomplished guitarist Jeff Freling lead the Kansas City ensemble Victor & Penny.

They once described their music as “antique pop,” but now they say it's "swing-infused folk-jazz" — based on the gypsy jazz tradition, it's a nostalgic sound more closely rooted in styles associated with Paris and New Orleans than Kansas City.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

On Ces Cru's new song "Purge," Donnie "Godemis" King and Mike "Ubiquitous" Viglione get more political than they have ever been before. Over a menacing and melodic piano, several voices say things like "friends, family, coworkers — all undocumented" and "it's genocide." 

courtesy B Trump Photography

For more than three decades, musician Bob Reeder has played weekly gigs — singing Irish folk songs and bawdy limericks — in an underground pub in Weston, Missouri. O'Malley's is roughly 50 feet underneath the ground in a limestone brewery cellar built in 1842. 

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

Ahead of the release of her new book of poetry, Striking the Black Snake​, local poet Monique Salazar joins us to share some of her personal journey, including her inspiring experience at Standing Rock, her heritage and memories of an abusive childhood.

Plus, Kansas City rap duo Ces Cru on their latest album "Catastrophic Event Specialists."

Guests:

Courtesy Everette DeVan

Hammond B3 organist Everette DeVan is a beloved dean of Kansas City’s jazz scene.

Though the popularity of DeVan’s good-time, organ-based jazz peaked about 50 years ago, the throwback style gets revived several times a week at the Green Lady Lounge. Organist Chris Hazelton and guitarist Matt Hopper are among the younger Kansas City musicians DeVan has mentored.

Courtesy The Elders

The Kansas City based Celtic-rock band The Elders has long been one of Kansas City’s most popular bands, performing regularly at prominent civic gatherings including the Plaza Lighting Ceremony on Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, the band oversees another annual tradition: The Elders’ 15th annual hoolie.

In honor of their featured status this week, we're playing "Meetings of the Waters," off of the band's seventh studio album, 2014's Story Road.

Wikimedia Commons

The Vietnam War didn't end silently, it went out to the loud riffs of rock n' roll. Revisit the songs that shaped the 1960s and '70s, and captured the moods of soldiers overseas and civilians at home. We also find out how the electric guitar became the international symbol of freedom, danger and rebellion.

Courtesy Poor Bishop Hooper

Poor Bishop Hooper, the husband-and-wife duo of Jesse Braswell Roberts and Leah Brace Roberts, celebrates the release their fourth album Gold at the Tank Room on Friday.

3 reasons we're listening to Poor Bishop Hooper this week:

1. The duo performs a Christian-informed variation of the energetic folk music associated with bands like the Old Crow Medicine Show and the Lumineers.

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