Excerpt from the Kansas City Star
MARCH 06, 2020 05:00 AM

Michael Stern has the golden touch when it comes to putting together a concert season. The music director of the Kansas City Symphony crafts a masterful blend of familiar audience favorites with intriguing contemporary works that surprise and delight.

Stern also draws on his connections to bring some of the world’s greatest artists to town to perform as soloists with the symphony.

The Kansas City Symphony’s recently announced 2020-2021 season is a perfect example of Stern’s artful programming.

Masterpieces of the classical repertoire, like Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, are juxtaposed with contemporary works like Fidl-Fantayze: A Klezmer Concerto by Noah Bendix-Balgley and the world premiere of a piano concerto by Gabriel Kahane, which is being commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony.

And next season is full of stars. Violinist Gil Shaham, who will perform Brahms’ Violin Concerto, and the wunderkind pianist Conrad Tao, who’ll tickle the ivories in Gershwin’s jazzy Piano Concerto, are just two of the artists adding their luster to an illustrious line-up of talent.

Kansas City’s world-class homegrown stars will also have a chance to shine. Organist Jan Kraybill will be the soloist for Saint-Saëns’ ever-popular Organ Symphony, and the members of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, directed by Charles Bruffy, will raise their voices in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Berlioz’s dramatic oratorio “Roméo et Juliette.”

It’s a stellar season, and a perfect way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Helzberg Hall.

The scheduled performances:

▪ Oct. 9-11: Robert Schumann’s Manfred Overture, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and the world premiere of Gabriel Kahane’s Piano Concerto commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony (Jefferey Kahane, piano)

▪ Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Brahms’ Violin Concerto (Gil Shaham, violin), Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 and the world premiere of “Odyssey” by Stuart Murray Turnbull

▪ Nov. 20-22: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Kansas City Symphony Chorus directed by Charles Bruffy)

▪ Nov. 27-29: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 (Janice Carissa, piano), Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 and Walton’s Johannesburg Festival Overture (Michael Francis, guest conductor)

▪ Jan. 15-17, 2021: Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (Jon Kimura Parker, piano), Richard Strauss’ “Ein Heldenleben” and Michael Ippolito’s Nocturne (Edo de Waart, guest conductor)

▪ Jan. 19-21, 2021: Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto (Pamela Frank, violin), Franck’s “Psyché et Eros” and excerpts from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”

▪ Feb. 5-7, 2021: Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations (Zlatomir Fung, cello), Richard Strauss’ “Don Juan,” Kodály’s Dances of Galánta and Bartók’s “Miraculous Mandarin” Suite (Paolo Bortolameolli, guest conductor)

▪ Feb. 19-21, 2021: Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony (Jan Kraybill, organ), Sibelius’ Violin Concerto (Benjamin Beilman, violin) and “Field Guide” by Gabriella Smith (Gemma New, guest conductor)

▪ March 26-28, 2021: Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and MacDowell’s Piano Concerto (Martina Filjak, piano)

▪ April 9-11, 2021: Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto (Raymond Santos, clarinet), Stravinsky’s “Pétrouchka” and “Tambor” by Joan Tower

▪ May 21-23, 2021: Berlioz’s “Roméo et Juliette” (Kansas City Symphony Chorus directed by Charles Bruffy, Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano. Other soloists to be announced)

▪ June 4-6, 2021: Gershwin’s Piano Concerto (Conrad Tao, piano), Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Poem for Orchestra by William Grant Still (Joshua Weilerstein, guest conductor)

▪ June 18-20, 2021: Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, Martinu’s Memorial to Lidice and “Fidl-Fantayze”: A Klezmer Concerto by Noah Bendix-Balgley (Noah Bendix-Balgley, violin)

▪ June 25-27, 2021: Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto (Yefim Bronfman, piano), Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” and “Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance” by Samuel Barber

All performances in Helzberg Hall. Michael Stern conductor, unless otherwise noted. Season tickets $80.50-$602. For more information, 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.

Read the article on The Star website.