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Backstage And Beyond

Can one woman change the direction of a culture? We all know the answer is yes, but it’s still gratifying to see it when it happens. Among her multifarious other accomplishments Valerie Naranjo —a native of Colorado who has played with the Saturday Night Live band and for the Broadway hit The Lion King — is credited with having helped […]

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It’s not often that a 12-minute piece by a living American composer proves to be the musical highlight of a two-hour concert of classical favorites. Usually the “modern” piece is that cacophonous thing that you grin and bear to get through to the good stuff. But at Friday’s season-opening concert by the Kansas City Symphony, […]

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Choreographer David Parsons’ earnest new piece Remember Me takes as its ambition to do Jesus Christ Superstar and Movin’ Out one better, by creating not just rock-opera or rock-ballet but rock-opera-ballet. Its conceit seems reasonable enough: to tell a love story through dance in collaboration with singers of the East Village Opera Company, a group that in recent years has achieved fame/notoriety for creating big-boned […]

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Are you as tired as I am of country singers and demagogues telling you what it is that makes America great? Freedom, family values, guns, pickup trucks. Choreographer Paul Taylor embodies, as much as any American I know, the values that have made this country strong:  At 79, he still works like the devil every day, using […]

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Octarium continues to refine its sonority and musical profile, and its distinguished concert on November 14 and 15, Modern Masters, showed that the group is gaining heft with leading choral composers around the country as well. The program included two world premieres and marked the release of a CD by the same title containing the music performed […]

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If you want to know what the six youngsters playing the lead parts in the Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker think about what they do, just ask them. Not only can they pirouette, plié and jeté, these boys and girls aged 9 to 14 can also talk about dance with clarity, thoughtfulness and no small amount of humor. We recently sat […]

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If you are looking for just one holiday event to attend, the Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker might not be the most inexpensive offering in town, but it’s probably the most solidly satisfying aesthetically. With Balanchine-inspired choreography by late artistic director Todd Bolender and delicious scenic and costume design by veteran Hollywood designer Robert Fletcher, it’s one of the […]

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The Kansas City Symphony has an intriguing array of soloists lined up for the spring, from superstars to newcomers, and the first one I’m looking forward to is Benedetto Lupo, a marvelous Italian pianist with a substantial European career who only recently has begun to attract due notice on these shores. Odd, considering that his career […]

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Musical groups of all kinds have drawn on word-play for their names — from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Chanticleer (Geoffrey Chaucer’s “clear-singing” rooster in The Canterbury Tales) and Anonymous 4 (a quartet named for the unknown author of a famous 13th-century musical treatise). But one Dutch vocal ensemble may have gone those groups […]

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