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Backstage And Beyond

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin has an uncanny ability to convince you, through the sheer force of his musical personality and will, that whatever he’s playing at the moment is the greatest music on earth — even music whose genius you might later, upon reflection, decide you’re not as sure about as he is. But at the moment he’s […]

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It’s an irresistible image, almost like a scene from a Werner Herzogmovie: the aging Albert Schweitzer — theologian, musician, philosopher, physician, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Johann Sebastian Bach biographer — sitting in his bungalow playing Baroque organ music, while outside his windows the sounds of Africa buzz and sing. Such was the inspiration for Lambarena, an ingenious CD […]

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One of the most electrifying pianists I’ve heard recently is a 19-year-old college student right here in Our Town. Uzbek-bornBehzod Abduraimov, a protégé of Van Cliburn Competition gold medalist Stanislav Ioudenitch at Park University, is quickly garnering international renown. On March 5th at the Folly Theater, pupil and teacher will perform a joint recital on Cynthia Siebert’s Friends of […]

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Sometimes a conductor of strong musicianship can make up for a multitude of orchestral sins. Such was the case, almost, on Saturday at the Folly Theater, when the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra offered an all-Tchaikovsky program on the prestigious Harriman-Jewell Series. The conductor, Alexei Kornienko, demonstrated a natural ease with Tchaikovsky’s music: The ebbs and flows of […]

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Verdi’s Rigoletto rings true because, like much great art, it deals in subject matter that most of us can relate to. A loving father smothers his teenage daughter with overprotective zeal, and the sheltered girl falls for the first guy who gives her the time of day. (The guy, naturally, turns out to be a jerk.) Old […]

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For about the first 20 years of my acquaintance with Joseph Flummerfelt’s artistry, I had no idea what he looked like. He was the silent presence behind great recordings of choral-orchestral works by the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras that I and many Americans cut our classical teeth on. As director of the Westminster College Choir […]

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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is a restless soul. When he plays a piece like Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata, which he has no doubt played hundreds of times, you can feel him struggle to take a new look at each phrase and gesture, each dynamic shading, each mood shift — so that the piece can remain fresh not just for […]

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Verdi’s Rigoletto is like a Lifetime Movie Network potboiler, complete with contrived crises, gratuitous violence and a cast of inexplicably mean characters who only occasionally seem like real people. The Lyric Opera’s current production rarely flinches from the work’s unseemly tawdriness, and that is, in some measure, its strength. It leaves us feeling even ickier than we […]

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It’s not often you get to attend a standing-room-only classical concert in Kansas City. So many choral fans showed up for the thrilling rendering of Brahms’ German Requiem at the UMKC Conservatory’s White Hall, featuring mega-conductor Joseph Flummerfelt and Conservatory forces, that the house managers left the entrances open so that the throng of overflow audience could hear the […]

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In 1975, Cynthia Siebert had a dream. She began by holding concerts in local homes, inviting top musicians to perform music of Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and others. But these were not just social soirees, Cynthia says. “The vision was always to make a fine chamber music series.” That’s exactly what she did. Over the last 35 years, […]

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Orchestra musicians love Mahler’s music because it’s fun to play. Hard work, yes. But what other music of the Austro-Germanic repertoire has the clarinetists raise their bells and point them straight at the audience, or lets the concertmaster play a solo on a mistuned violin, or asks the timpanist to come down hard on the […]

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Europeans have a different concept of the passage of time than we do. The “New College” at Oxford and the famous choir associated with it were founded in the 14th century (imagine how old the oldcollege was!). Six centuries later the Choir of New College continues to sing services six days a week at one of […]

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We have a fascination with tales of man-made things that come to life — whether to fascinate us (Pinocchio), hurt us (Frankenstein) or steal our hearts (Tales of Hoffmann, the Pygmalion of Greek mythology). In ballet, the favorite doll-come-to-life-(but-not-really) story is Coppélia, the tale of a mysterious inventor who creates a beautiful doll that is so lifelike […]

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A well-oiled operatic production relies on the convergence of so many elements that it seems a miracle when it actually does all come together. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City was thrown a curve-ball recently when the singer contracted to sing the title role of Don Giovanni pulled out because of illness. Less than two weeks before opening, the […]

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Dolls that come to life, a village love story, iconic ballet moves: Coppéliais hard to resist even in a so-so production. The version by the Moscow Festival Ballet, presented here on May 1st by the Harriman-Jewell Series, was a considerable cut above the average, with youthful dancers, faux-naïve set designs, and fine dancing in the Russian tradition. […]

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As recently as 20 years ago it was rare to find works by women on the programs of professional ballet companies. That’s changing, albeit slowly. On May 6 the Kansas City Ballet opens its spring program with new works by not one but two of the most sought-after choreographers in America — both of whom just happen […]

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The Kansas City Ballet has scored a home run with its spring program that opened May 6 at the Lyric Theatre, with an appealing lineup ranging from classical ballet to Balanchine-does-jazz, from Todd Bolender to two adventurous new ballets receiving their world premieres. It was a gratifying conclusion to an erratic 2009-2010 season that has […]

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Like many Southerners of her generation, choreographer Mary Pat Henry had a front row seat for the explosive events surrounding desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement. As a child in Columbus, South Carolina, she remembers being continually jolted by the racism she encountered all around her. For two years now she has grappled with reenacting some of […]

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Symphony in the Flint Hills this year features not only the live strains of the Kansas City Symphony echoing out over the verdant hills of Chase County, Kansas, but also the hickory twang of country superstar Lyle Lovett, who will sing a few tunes. Scheduled for June 12th with a rain date on June 13th, it’s an all-day […]

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Bruce Sorrell has spent a great deal of his life thinking about Mozart, and it shows when he conducts the composer’s music: He has a special understanding of this most challenging of Classicists. Astonishingly, the founding music director of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra finds that he has never conducted Mozart’s iconic Requiem, and this week […]

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The Kansas City Ballet continues to be the envy of mid-sized American companies, maintaining fiscal health while continuing to challenge itself artistically. At Thursday’s season finale opener, veterans and younger dancers mingled like a well-oiled machine in two distinguished world premieres and a reprise of Twyla Tharp’s elegant Nine Sinatra Songs. And the company showed that it has a […]

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