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Classical Series 2023/24

14 concert weekends filled with moving performances

To order a 2023/24 Classical Series season ticket package, CLICK HERE.

MASTERWORKS & BRAVO SERIES
Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 3, 2024 2 p.m.

Rei Hotoda, guest conductor
Joyce Yang, piano

Gabriela Lena Frank  Escaramuza
Dmitri Shostakovich  Symphony No. 9
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  Piano Concerto No. 1

Fresno Philharmonic Music Director Rei Hotoda delights in reaching audiences with innovative concerts and she’ll lead your Kansas City Symphony in this thought-provoking and deeply satisfying program.

Gabriela Lena Frank describes Escaramuza as a “brightly chiseled romp” that captures the triumphant and joyful spirit of Peru’s kampacha music. The entire orchestra gets a workout in this high-energy piece.

Breaking the stereotype that ninth symphonies are monumental, Dmitri Shostakovich’s compact Ninth Symphony is his sardonic statement in the face of grandiose expectations. Composed in 1945, the symphony is infused with humor and lyricism, deftly sidestepping overt defiance of Stalin’s regime with emotionally complex music beneath an unassuming surface.

With fiery technique and deep emotion, Joyce Yang brings Tchaikovsky’s beloved Piano Concerto No. 1 to glorious life with your Kansas City Symphony. Standing ovations invariably follow Yang’s performances with the Symphony due to her marvelous artistry. Tchaikovsky’s music is especially popular with Kansas City audiences and his First Piano Concerto has thrilled listeners for nearly 150 years.

MASTERWORKS & OVATION SERIES
Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 24, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Matthias Pintscher, music director designate
Philippe Quint, violin

Leonard Bernstein  Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Errollyn Wallen
  Violin Concerto (KCS co-commission)
Charles Ives Three Places in New England
Sergei Rachmaninoff  Symphonic Dances

The excitement is building for one of the most riveting concerts of the year, led by our next music director, Matthias Pintscher. Right from the downbeat, you’ll be drawn in by the melodic genius and rhythmic brilliance of Leonard Bernstein’s music for West Side Story. Whether it’s the “Cool” fugue, a dream of friendship in “Somewhere,” the compelling “Mambo,” or the danger of “Rumble,” you’ll love these Symphonic Dances by one of America’s most storied composers and conductors.
Melding styles and musical thoughts, Belize-born UK composer Errollyn Wallen took inspiration from violin virtuoso Philippe Quint’s childhood memories of church bells and a lullaby to create a new violin concerto that will have its U.S. premiere in Kansas City. Quint’s spellbinding playing will bring this new work to life, with its incredible personal story.
One of America’s most original composers — ever — Charles Ives always followed his own muse. Three Places in New England gives us Ives’ unique perspective of time and place. This imaginative exploration of sound is like none other.
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s last orchestral work is a fitting end to this dazzling program. Urbane, filled with rich colors and seductive harmonies, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances are aristocratic and more than a touch nostalgic.  From tolling bells to sensuous swagger, this is compelling music that will linger in your memory.

MASTERWORKS & BRAVO SERIES
Friday and Saturday, April 5-6, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 7, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Xavier Foley, double bass

Maurice Ravel  Le tombeau de Couperin
Xavier Foley  Soul Bass
Angel Lam  Please let there be a paradise… (World Premiere)
Alberto Ginastera Variaciones concertantes
Maurice Ravel  Boléro

Deeply affected by the loss of life in World War I, Maurice Ravel’s homage to the Baroque world of François Couperin commemorates six friends who died in combat. Decidedly not somber or grim, Le tombeau stands as a tribute to the world’s beauty and the value of human life in contrast to the depredation of war.

Featured soloist Xavier Foley is a double bass double threat — virtuoso player and imaginative composer. He’ll wow you with stellar technique and win your heart with gorgeous sound. With a seemingly effortless blend of classical sensibilities and jazz creativity, Foley’s music is mesmerizing.

The Kansas City Symphony is excited to be the lead orchestra for the commission of a new work by Angel Lam. Her fearless exploration of tone, colors and respect for her Chinese heritage results in music that will captivate you with its incredible variety.

Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera expertly blended invigorating harmonies with irresistible Latin rhythms in his appealing Variaciones concertantes. Be amazed at the extraordinary talent of your Kansas City Symphony on display in this fabulous work.

The program closes with one of Ravel’s most popular works: Boléro. Expertly orchestrated, the work’s insistent rhythm and singular melody undergo a miraculous transformation, from whisper-soft beginning to thunderous ending.

MASTERWORKS & OVATION SERIES
Friday and Saturday, April 19-20, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 21, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Ralph Vaughan Williams  Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Ludwig Van Beethoven  Piano Concerto No. 4
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Serenade No. 10, “Gran Partita”

Michael Stern has crafted a unique program that will delight the senses and linger in your memory. Ralph Vaughan Williams was steeped in the rich heritage of English string music and he used a sweet melody by the Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis in this glorious fantasia that has delighted audiences for more than a century. You’ll be swept away by the luscious string sonority.

Throughout his stellar career, Jeffrey Kahane has enchanted audiences with insightful and inspiring performances. An acclaimed pianist, we’re delighted to welcome him back to Kansas City to play Beethoven’s superb Fourth Piano Concerto, an absolute masterwork for the piano. Hear for yourself what happens when great talents combine across the centuries.

The Kansas City Symphony woodwinds are exceptional musicians and they’ll be featured in Mozart’s Serenade No. 10, often called “Gran Partita” for its expansive form. This graceful work pushes the conventional boundaries in an elegant and polished manner that readily demonstrates Mozart’s genius.

MASTERWORKS & BRAVO SERIES
Friday and Saturday, May 31-June 1, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 2, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin

Guillaume Connesson  Flammenschrift (Flame Writing)
Franz Joseph Haydn  Symphony No. 59, “Feuersinfonie” (Fire Symphony)
The Elements (selections)
Kevin Puts “Earth”
Edgar Meyer “Water”
Jake Heggie “Fire”
Henri Vieuxtemps  Violin Concerto No. 5
Maurice Ravel  Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloé

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The ancient elements of earth, water, and fire provide inspiration for this blockbuster concert headlined by violin superstar Joshua Bell. He has commissioned works by renowned composers Kevin Puts, Edgar Meyer and Jake Heggie, incorporating these elements thematically. You’ll hear a magical blend of old and new in these ingenious pieces. Also on the program is Henri Vieuxtemps’ virtuosic Fifth Violin Concerto. Vieuxtemps’ beautiful music and Joshua Bell’s phenomenal artistry are a heavenly match — romantic music indeed.

Maestro Stern continues the elemental theme with Flammenschrift (Flame Writing) by French composer Guillaume Connesson. Borrowing the word from Goethe, Connesson’s Flammenschrift is a fiery psychological portrait of Beethoven, filled with allusions to his monumental music as well as nods to Johannes Brahms and Richard Strauss.

Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Fire Symphony” probably got its nickname from accompanying Die Feuersbrunst (“The Conflagration”), a play by Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann. Savor the sweet elegance of Haydn’s clever writing and then delight in the last movement’s blazing passages.

Ravel’s sensuous music for the ballet Daphnis and Chloé brought him worldwide fame. He described it as a symphonie chorégraphique and filled the work with shimmering orchestral colors and hypnotic rhythms. Waves of sound cascade all around you in this suite as Daphnis and his lover Chloé are happily reunited, concluding with a frenzied dance.

MASTERWORKS & OVATION SERIES
Friday and Saturday, June 14-15, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 16, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Joelle Harvey, soprano
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Kansas City Symphony Chorus, Charles Bruffy, chorus director

Gustav Mahler  Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”

A transcendent experience awaits you — Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony is truly one of his greatest, most deeply emotional works. The stage and choral loft will be filled with musicians bringing you music that touches the soul. Soprano Joelle Harvey and mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor give voice to this luminous work.

Mahler’s personal favorite of his many symphonies, it took him seven years to complete the work. From moments of sublime tenderness to extravagant displays of vigor, this powerful symphony illuminates life’s journey.  Soloists, chorus, and a massive orchestra join together to contemplate the nature of life and death, the role of faith, and ultimate meaning.

Inspiration for the radiant finale came as Mahler attended the funeral of his mentor, the conductor Hans von Bülow. Upon hearing “The Resurrection,” a poem by Friedrich Klopstock set to a chorale melody, Mahler later said, “It flashed on me like lightning and everything became plain and clear in my mind. It was the flash that all creative artists wait for …” From that creative spark came the shape of this epic symphony. Join Michael Stern, Joelle Harvey, Kelley O’Connor, the Symphony Chorus directed by Grammy® winner Charles Bruffy, and your Kansas City Symphony for an unforgettable performance.

MASTERWORKS & BRAVO SERIES
Friday and Saturday, June 21-22, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 23, 2024 at 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor

Felix Mendelssohn  Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Samuel Barber  Symphony No. 1
Jean Sibelius  Symphony No. 2

With a virtuosic program to close this magnificent season, Maestro Stern shares music that inspires him.

An astounding child prodigy, Felix Mendelssohn composed the Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was only 17 years old. This brilliant music captures the essence Shakespeare’s play and stands on its own as an orchestral masterwork.

Long a fan of Samuel Barber’s elegant writing, Stern and the Symphony recorded Symphony No. 1, sharing their take on this American classic. Enjoy the immediacy and vibrance of this one-movement symphony, with its sleek lines and piquant harmonies.

In Jean Sibelius’ glorious Symphony No. 2, Stern and the orchestra will take you on a journey across vast expanses. Transparent textures are etched with incisive melodies that float effortlessly. Fire and warmth beckon as you trek through the crystalline Nordic landscape of this symphony, ending with a well-earned sense of triumph and satisfaction. Bravissimo!

To order a 2023/24 Classical Series season ticket package, CLICK HERE.