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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

Gabriela Ortiz Kauyumari
Béla Bartók  Concerto for Orchestra
Johannes Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major

The Music is Calling! Where will it take you? Our 2023/24 Season begins with an invitation to experience your Kansas City Symphony like never before.

In this concert, the emotional works of Ortiz, Bartók and Brahms will fill Helzberg Hall with beautiful sound, inspiring you to express how the music makes you feel. Just as Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra highlights the many talented individuals of the orchestra through amazing solo moments, you’ll have the opportunity to place a spotlight on how symphonic music brings color to your world through interactive experiences in the Kauffman Center’s Brandmeyer Great Hall.  Featuring Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto with Yefim Bronfman, world-class music and exciting new experiences unite in this concert for a brilliant beginning to our 2023/24 season.  

The Music is Calling. Let the Kansas City Symphony color your world.

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

Step outside the structured lines of everyday life and into the outrageous imagination of Strauss’s legendary Don Quixote with your Kansas City Symphony.

Guided by the fantastic talents of Principal Viola MingYu Hsu and Principal Cello Mark Gibbs, embark on an exhilarating musical adventure to find out just how far the incredible power of symphonic music can take you. Paired with Mason’s A Joyous Trilogy, a work that embodies cheerfulness, and Lutosławski’s audacious and wonderfully rewarding Concerto for Orchestra, this concert’s program will fuel your mind with powerful sound!

Outside the walls of Helzberg Hall, allow your imagination to soar through an immersive experience including orderly knights and rooks, avant-garde artistry and even a specialty cocktail from Spain! “Can You Imagine?” Come to the Kansas City Symphony, and “Explore Your Imagination!”

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

There’s nothing quite like the awe-inspiring ability of music to illuminate profound truths and emotions straight from the soul. Allow your Kansas City Symphony to ignite your spirit through the thrilling sounds of music made by voice and hand.

This concert’s music evokes a beautiful display of contrasts—dark and light, tragedy and triumph, sunshine and shadow. Largely inspired by Mary, the mother of Jesus, the works of Pärt and Verdi invite you on a deeply emotional journey containing both drama and ethereal serenity, while Schumann’s Second Symphony will guide you on a spirited adventure toward a richly satisfying conclusion.

In addition to this moving program of music, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in an inspirational experience just outside of Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center lobby! Complete with elegant visions of the night sky and enlightening entertainment, this concert gives you the opportunity to discover music’s true power to illuminate the soul.

THROUGH THE LENSFriday 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

Our backgrounds, who we are and where we’re from, shape the way we experience the world around us. Join us in a multicultural celebration of symphonic music and the incredible individuals (audience members and musicians, alike!) that help your KC Symphony to thrive.

In this concert, we’ll showcase a kaleidoscope of Kansas City through our fantastic symphony musicians, the captivating music of Chilean composer Miguel Farias, a sensitive interpretation of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 played by Chinese pianist Zhu Wang and Dvorak’s brooding Symphony No. 7. Plus, this evening of enthralling music will be led by the fantastic Chilean-Italian conductor Paolo Bortolameolli, marking his return to Kansas City.

This unique cultural gathering doesn’t just include Helzberg Hall! Venture with us into the Kauffman Center’s Brandmeyer Great Hall, where you can get up close and personal with the sounds of symphonic music from around the world, enjoy themed cocktails representative of the cultures reflected in this concert’s program, and more! Don’t miss this chance to experience the immense, multicultural world of symphonic music. You belong at the Kansas City Symphony!

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.

Kazem Abdullah, guest conductor
Jun Iwasaki, violin

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Violin Concerto No. 5
Erich Korngold  Symphony in F-sharp

Guest conductor Kazem Abdullah balances a busy career conducting operas and symphonic literature, with numerous engagements in both genres around the world. For this program, he leads the orchestra in Erich Korngold’s Symphony in F-sharp. Korngold divided his time between the concert hall and composing film scores, writing the music for 16 Hollywood movies and winning two Oscars in the process. Completed in 1952, Korngold’s only symphony melds his talent for melody with tradition in a profound work of beauty.

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 meets Mozart’s gift for melody in this stylish and thoroughly enjoyable concerto.

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

Michael Stern, conductor
Pamela Frank, violin

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

Thanks to Santee Floral.

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.

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.

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

Errollyn Wallen  Violin Concerto (KCS co-commission)

Matthias Pintscher and the musicians of the Kansas City Symphony made an immediate connection with one another in their electrifying performances together last March. Because of that incredible creative synergy, Pintscher is now music director designate and he returns with another outstanding program. Savor this wonderful music in a gripping performance by Matthias Pintscher and your Kansas City Symphony.
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.

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  New Work (World Premiere)
Benjamin Britten  “Four Sea Interludes” from Peter Grimes
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.

Maestro Stern and the Symphony reprise their brilliant Grammy® Award-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. This adventuresome program includes beloved masterworks, exciting new pieces and thrilling sounds at every turn.

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.

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.

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.