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Backstage And Beyond

IN REVIEW: Lyric stages tuneful, visually striking new opera (and the weather outside is indeed frightful)

Everest possesses something found in surprisingly few contemporary operas: soaring, tastefully singable tunes that stick in your head but avoid the tacky pizzazz of Broadway that plagues so many new operas. Some will admire the piece (by composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer) simply for its dazzling physical production and its starkly naturalistic score, […]

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TRIO OF TITANS: KC-based megastar teams up with mentors for special moment

Hearing one musical giant at a concert is a great thing. Two, even better. But three, on the same program? Few events on this season’s calendar stand out quite as much as the appearance of Maestro Valery Gergiev on the Harriman-Jewell Series, with an ensemble from the Mariinsky Orchestra that he has built into a […]

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FOLLY JAZZ AT 35: Top-drawer guitarist opens milestone season as local series offers international lineup

Lee Ritenour might not know exactly what he and his ensemble will be playing when they perform here on October 28th, at the glittering Opening Night of the Folly Jazz Series’ 35th Anniversary Season. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be arriving unprepared. In fact, the legendary 65-year-old guitarist, who has played with everyone from Sinatra […]

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IN REVIEW: CSO returns to Helzberg Hall for stirring encore performance

The Chicago Symphony plays like a well-oiled, meticulously hand-crafted engine, and an opportunity to hear it in a fine acoustic space is always a treat. In 2015, when the Harriman-Jewell Series brought the CSO for its first appearance here in nearly a half-century, Music Director Riccardo Muti was so delighted with the experience of performing […]

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IN REVIEW: EQUAL PARTS DANCE AND DRAMA: KC Ballet presents new version of durable classic

Devon Carney has already demonstrated his skill as choreographer in the four full-length ballets he’s created since becoming the Kansas City Ballet’s Artistic Director in 2013. What stood out in his Romeo and Juliet, which received its world premiere October 13th at the Kauffman Center, was the former Boston Ballet Principal Dancer’s unwavering skill as […]

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LOVE AMIDST THE TURMOIL: Rep enlists top director to steer Wilson production

Theater comes in all shapes and sizes, but the plays that stick with us tend to be those that hold up a mirror to our own joys and tragedies, our loves and weaknesses and ruined relationships. When August Wilson’s plays began to appear on prominent stages during the 1980s, many noticed immediately the birth of […]

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IN REVIEW: Lyric’s open-hearted ‘Onegin’ strikes to the core of the work’s humanity

The Lyric Opera’s handsome production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin hit home partly because of its simplicity. The spare approach both to design and to direction, and the unfussy singing that managed to avoid excess (even as non-Russian-speakers labored to sing in Russian), allowed us to focus so intently on the drama that we found ourselves […]

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IN REVIEW: Performing-arts season opens with fine, variegated dance

Kansas City’s performing-arts season opened with a vengeance in mid-September, with more than a dozen professional-level productions of music, dance and theater vying for attention. Among the half-dozen or so I managed to take in, one that stood out (after Cliburn medalist Kenny Broberg’s recital, reviewed here) was the Harriman-Jewell Series’ presentation of Parsons Dance […]

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CAD OR VICTIM? Shattering Russian masterpiece opens Lyric Opera’s 60th-anniversary season

It’s true that many operas of the standard repertoire are drawn from stories that are implausible, overwrought or even downright ridiculous. Almost as often, though, composers find themselves setting literary masterpieces to music, and they are challenged to create a work that can at least function on its own terms, stand up to the mastery […]

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Email: Paul@kcindependent.com   Paul studied piano and musicology at WSU and Cornell University. He also earned a degree in journalism, because writing about the arts in order to inspire others to partake in them was always his first love. After earning a PhD from Cornell, he became Program Annotator for the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he learned […]

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IN REVIEW: Recital by local piano student suggests that Cliburn Silver was no fluke

By Paul Horsley Trying to gauge the artistry of a musician on the basis of a performance at an international composition is like trying to identify a future Oscar-winning filmmaker on the basis of a YouTube “short” he or she made in high school. This most unnatural of settings (for which the Van Cliburn International […]

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FROM THE PAGE TO THE STAGE: Carney’s R&J journey comes full circle with KC Ballet premiere

For a kid who was about to devote his life and career to dance, young Devon Carney sure took a long time to realize that Romeo and Juliet was not just a Shakespeare play but also one of the most famous ballets in the classical repertory. “The first time I actually experienced the ballet was […]

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SITTING DOWN FOR A PIECE OF PIE: Coterie Theatre presents reflection on essential Civil Rights event

By Paul Horsley Often when peering at photographs of historically momentous events, after our eyes have stared at the central subject for a while, we begin to gaze at what’s going on at the periphery. Provocative questions can arise from examining the faces of those on the sidelines: What was behind those expressions of shock, […]

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FOOD FOR MIND AND SOUL: These arts highlights can brighten your Fall

By Paul Horsley Feel like “raging against the machine” this Fall? Art is your best recourse! So get out your desk calendars, cell phones, iPads and whatnot and start marking down some of our must-sees. You’ll thank us later! . AUGUST Through September 24: New Theatre Restaurant; Million Dollar Quartet; This fanciful tribute re-creates a […]

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MASTER IN THE WORKS: Cliburn medal in hand, Park U student to make KC recital debut

By Paul Horsley The making of every great musician involves natural talent, assiduous practice and, perhaps most important of all, teachers whose influences mold an artist through intelligence, caring attention and a deep understanding both of music and of career-building. When Kansas City resident and Park University graduate student Kenneth Broberg won the Silver Medal […]

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SISTER, SING: Songs of women reveal commonalities, not conflicts

By Paul Horsley If we listen to stories and songs of men, we learn of conflicts and wars, preening pride and costly conquest. If we turn our ear to women’s songs, we are more likely to hear common, and often more constructive, themes emerging: family, nurturing, and the “cycle of life” including love, marriage, childbirth, […]

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PLAYING RIGHT THROUGH: Summerfest continues exploring new approaches

By Paul Horsley Here’s a hint for performing-arts groups: If you want to keep the public interested year-in, year-out, you have to try new things all the time. Kansas City’s Summerfest, a breath of fresh air each July in the form of professional chamber-music in appealing venues, is about to begin its 27th season. And […]

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MOMMY MOST FOUL: Local-boy-turned-celeb ponders big questions in HASF’s 25th anniversary

By Paul Horsley For actor Nathan Darrow, Hamlet is not some dreamy philosopher pondering the meaning of life. The title character of Shakespeare’s essential play is asking some very specific questions: What the heck is going on here, in this nation that I’m supposed to be ruling one day? Does my mother love me? Does […]

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DANCING FOR LIFE: Misty Copeland, ABT Principal Dancer, returns home to honor KC roots

By Paul Horsley From the moment she first discovered the freedom and beauty of movement, Misty Copeland had one goal in life: to become a Principal Dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. That the vaunted company had never had an African-American woman in this position did not allow the Kansas City-born dancer to stray from […]

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THE WAY WE TALK: KCAT presents stern, witty play about life, ennui, dying

By Paul Horsley If we were to write out our conversation the way we actually speak, it might look like the scrawled musings of a child. Or it might look a bit like Will Eno’s play The Realistic Joneses, a striking piece of theater that had its Broadway premiere in 2014 and was proclaimed, by […]

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IT’S ALL THERE FOR THOSE WHO SEE: KCB program shows breadth of American dance (REVIEW)

Paul Horsley If you’ve ever wondered what ballet in America is about these days, the Kansas City Ballet’s current Director’s Choice program might be an ideal place to start. In just three works spanning 65 years, the company reveals a glimpse of the breadth and depth of dance today: from the Russian-inspired Balanchine Theme and […]

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