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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.

Friday and Saturday, October 6-7 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 8 at 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Yefim Bronfman, piano

Jessie Montgomery  Hymn for Everyone
Béla Bartók  Concerto for Orchestra
Johannes Brahms  Piano Concerto No. 2

Every concert is a celebration of Michael Stern’s visionary artistic leadership this year, his final season as music director. He has long championed American composers and music of our time so it is a special pleasure to feature Jessie Montgomery’s Hymn for Everyone. Composed in 2021, Montgomery describes Hymn as “a kind of meditation for orchestra, exploring various washes of color and timbre.”

A stunning masterpiece, Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra is one of the greatest works of the 20th century. By turns playful, daring, mystical, and brassy, this Concerto will wow you with its inventiveness and virtuosic displays. Be ready to be amazed.

A longtime friend of Maestro Stern and the Symphony, pianist Yefim Bronfman plays with extraordinary technical prowess and remarkable creativity. He’s a perfect match for Johannes Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto, a tour de force for soloist and orchestra alike. From intimate solo moments to thunderous outbursts — and everything in between — you’ll be swept along on waves of elegant melody.

Friday and Saturday, October 27-28 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 29 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Mark Gibbs, cello
Mingyu Hsu, viola

Quinn Mason  A Joyous Trilogy
Witold Lutosławski  Concerto for Orchestra
Richard Strauss  Don Quixote

Maestro Stern has a talent for finding exciting new music and A Joyous Trilogy by up-and-coming composer/conductor Quinn Mason is a terrific discovery. Mason set out to “create a composition that was the very embodiment of happiness and cheerfulness, an accessible work that would put any listener in a good mood.” Exactly what we all need!

Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra is an audacious work and wonderfully rewarding. Carefully balancing structure and content while navigating a path between intellect and emotion, Lutosławski is firmly anchored in tradition while simultaneously searching the avantgarde for expressive potential. His Concerto demands individual virtuosity but uses it collectively in a sound world that seems old yet is unmistakably contemporary. Discover new dimensions of the symphonic realm in this bold work from the mid-20th century.

The Kansas City Symphony has superbly talented musicians and this is your chance to hear Principal Cello Mark Gibbs and Principal Viola MingYu Hsu featured in Richard Strauss’ noble tone poem, Don Quixote. Through a series of variations vividly depicting the Don’s adventures as a knight, Strauss offers a delightful vision of Cervantes’ novel. Follow your quest to hear great music by joining the Kansas City Symphony for this exhilarating concert!

Friday and Saturday, November 17-18 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 19 at 2 p.m.

Eduardo Strausser, guest conductor
Kansas City Symphony Chorus, Charles Bruffy, chorus director

Arvo Pärt  “Salve Regina”
Giuseppe Verdi  “Stabat Mater”
Giuseppe Verdi  “Te Deum”
Robert Schumann  Symphony No. 2

We welcome charismatic Brazilian conductor Eduardo Strausser back to Kansas City for a program of transcendent beauty. Inspired by the revered 13th-century hymn to Mary, the mother of Jesus, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt set the “Salve Regina” with ethereal choral lines, murmuring strings and crystalline celeste, all seemingly suspended in time and space. You’ll love this moment of serenity in the midst
of our busy world.

The last two works that famed opera composer Giuseppe Verdi completed were “Te Deum” and “Stabat Mater,” reflecting religious contemplation at the end of his life. Like Pärt, Verdi found inspiration in a 13th-century hymn to Mary, commemorating her sorrow at Jesus’ crucifixion. His “Stabat Mater” ranges from quiet contemplation to anguished outcry. Based on the 4th-century hymn of praise, “Te Deum” is filled with drama and huge contrasts that will take you on a deeply emotional journey.

Robert Schumann described his Second Symphony as “music of light and shade, sunshine and shadow.” Enjoy those contrasts as the spirited scherzo movement charms and delights while a more pensive mood follows. The triumphant conclusion is richly satisfying.

Friday and Saturday, November 24-25 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 26 at 2 p.m.

Paolo Bortolameolli, guest conductor
Zhu Wang, piano (underwritten by the Almy Legacy Fund)

Miguel Farías Retratos Australes
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Piano Concerto No. 21
Antonín Dvořák  Symphony No. 7

Chilean-Italian conductor Paolo Bortolameolli returns to Kansas City to lead the Symphony in a marvelously captivating program. To open the concert, Chilean composer Miguel Farías offers his portrait of the southern hemisphere in Retratos Australes, a work brimming with restless energy, hypnotic phrases, and kaleidoscopic orchestral colors.

Our longtime partnership with the famous Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (Michael Stern is an alumnus, after all) brings amazingly talented students or recent grads to Kansas City for solo appearances, helping to launch their careers and allowing us to hear tomorrow’s stars today. A native of Hunan, China, pianist Zhu Wang has already performed all over the world, winning prizes and thrilling audiences with his lyrical playing. His sensitive interpretation of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 will delight you, especially in the famous slow movement. (Film buffs will know that it was featured in the 1967 Swedish film “Elvira Madigan.”

Antonín Dvořák composed some of the best symphonic music ever written. With its impassioned melodies and brooding atmosphere, Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony transits the full expanse of emotions. From soul-searching angst to sun-dappled phrases that dance joyfully, this is music that affirms a zest for life.

Friday and Saturday, January 12-13, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 14, 2024 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano

Chen Yi  Transplanted Seeds
Charles Ives  “The Unanswered Question”
Gustav Mahler  Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer)
Joel Thompson  The Places We Leave
Gustav Mahler  “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” (I have been lost to the world) from Rückert-Lieder
Johann Strauss, Jr.  Overture to Die Fledermaus

You’ll want to start 2024 off right by joining Maestro Stern and superstar mezzo-soprano (and hometown favorite!) Joyce DiDonato for a dazzling evening of music.

Chen Yi is a distinguished composer and long-time faculty member at the UMKC Conservatory and she’s writing a new piece. Her brilliant use of orchestral color and vivacious rhythms are captivating — we can hardly wait!

A true American original, Charles Ives penned music that invites you to ponder. The Unanswered Question is one of his most famous works and DiDonato, another American original, sings this contemplative version, straight from her new recording “Eden.”

Gustav Mahler wrote the poems that he later set to music in Songs of a Wayfarer, a thinly veiled autobiographical portrayal of his sensitive emotional state. Inhabiting the realm between pathos and acceptance, these songs follow the wayfarer through poignant memories, sharp despair, love betrayed, resignation, and dreams of solace. Also on the program, Mahler’s setting of poetry by German Romantic poet Friedrich Rückert is introspective and meditative, leaving behind the cares and tumult of the world, caressed in silken sounds.

“The Places We Leave” by rising talent Joel Thompson is an evocative setting of poetry by Tracy K. Smith, a U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner. The combination of DiDonato’s luminous voice, Smith’s haunting words, and Thompson’s lush orchestration will linger in your memory.

After such an emotional journey, it’s time for some musical champagne by Johann Strauss, Jr. The Overture to Die Fledermaus set the standard for rom-com soundtracks and never fails to please with its witty sparkle.

Friday and Saturday, January 26-27, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 28, 2024 2 p.m.

To Be Announced, guest conductor
Jun Iwasaki, violin

Program to include:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Violin Concerto No. 5

Our amazing concertmaster Jun Iwasaki takes a solo bow in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, the pinnacle of elegance and refinement. Iwasaki’s incredible artistry matches Mozart’s gift for melody in this stylish and thoroughly enjoyable concerto.

As we continue our search for the next music director of the Kansas City Symphony, we look forward to inviting an exciting guest conductor to lead these concerts. On every program, the fantastic musicians of your Kansas City Symphony will bring their talents to bear on masterworks selected just for you!

Friday and Saturday, February 2-3, 2024 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 4, 2024 2 p.m.

Michael Stern, conductor
Pamela Frank, piano

Shelley Washington  Both (KCS co-commission)
Alberto Ginastera  Variaciones concertantes
Ludwig Van Beethoven  Violin Concerto

Raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Shelley Washington is making a big splash with her unique music that blends elements of jazz, rock, and American folk. You’ll love how she happily rattles cages, rages against the machine, and makes lots of joyful noise in “Both,” a work co-commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony.

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.

Maestro Stern and the Symphony are eager to welcome Pamela Frank back to Kansas City for what’s sure to be a dazzling performance of Beethoven’s singular Violin Concerto. Frank will move you with her bold and perceptive interpretation of this landmark work.

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

To Be Announced, guest conductor
Joyce Yang, violin

Program to include:
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  Piano Concerto No. 1

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.

We bring you another guest conductor for this concert, searching the world for top talent with a gift for imaginative programming. You can be assured of a terrific performance that will delight and inspire you!

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

Michael Stern, conductor
Philippe Quint, violin

Maurice Ravel  Le tombeau de Couperin
Angel Lam  New Work (World Premiere)
Errollyn Wallen  Violin Concerto (KCS co-commission)
Benjamin Britten  “Four Sea Interludes” from Peter Grimes
Maurice Ravel  Boléro

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

Filled with pulsing drive and spellbinding harmonies, Errollyn Wallen’s new Violin Concerto draws on her eclectic sensibilities. Born in Belize and now living in a lighthouse in northern Scotland, Wallen is fascinated with the rhythm of life and her music reflects deep listening. American violinist Philippe Quint returns to Kansas City to bring this new concerto to life. Quint’s opulent sound and insightful approach to new works are the perfect match for Wallen’s music.

Maestro Stern and the Symphony reprise their brilliant Grammy®-winning recording of “Four Sea Interludes” from Benjamin Britten’s haunting opera Peter Grimes. Britten’s gripping music portrays the human drama and power of the sea with stunning effect.

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.

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. Marvel at the wondrous ingenuity on display throughout this exceptionally varied program.

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

To Be Announced, guest conductor
Xavier Foley, double bass

Program to include:
Xavier Foley  Double Bass Concerto

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. Paired with the Kansas City Symphony, he’s irresistible! Even better, he now calls Kansas City home.

We’re delighted to welcome another guest conductor to lead this program.

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

To Be Announced, guest conductor
Jeffrey Kahane, piano

Program to include:
Ludwig Van Beethoven  Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”

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 monumental “Emperor” Concerto, an absolute masterwork for the piano. Hear for yourself what happens when great talents combine across the centuries.

This program features the last of our guest conductors this season. Don’t miss your chance to hear the magic that happens when a talented conductor meets a world-class orchestra!

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

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.

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.

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.