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Kansas City Symphony announces ambitious program for 2014/15 season

Marilyn Maye
Marilyn Maye
Kevin Alvey

The Kansas City Symphony recently announced its enthusiastic programming lineup for the entire 2014/15 season, including Classical, Pops and Family Series as well as special and holiday concerts.

The 2014/15 season marks the ensemble’s fourth season in the acoustically superior Helzberg Hall of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City, MO. Michael Stern, music director of the Kansas City Symphony since 2005, prepared an array of music for the Classical Series, including crowd favorites, such as Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, Holst’s The Planets and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

According to a spokesman for the KCS, a wide range of distinguished guest artists will join the Symphony, including soprano Joyce DiDonato who opens the season, plus a not-to-be-missed collaboration between legendary violinist Pinchas Zukerman and the Symphony’s own Concertmaster Noah Geller (May 29-31, 2015). The expansive classical programming — featuring music by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Holst, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Strauss, Wagner and many more — promises to appeal to a variety of tastes while showcasing the extraordinarily talented Symphony musicians, he said.

In addition to the Classical Series, the Symphony also announced the dates, programs and guest artists of its Pops and Family Series as well as upcoming holiday and special concerts, like the popular Screenland at the Symphony shows, which will include screenings of Singin’ in the Rain (April 10-12, 2015).

Pops Series patrons will enjoy performances spanning from tunes a la Mad Men (Sept. 19-20, 2014) to a Halloween night show, “Mysterioso,” (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2014) to pianist Jim Brickman (Feb. 13-14, 2015).

Family Series audiences can look forward to fun-filled concerts, such as Peter and the Wolf, Live! (Feb. 22, 2015) and Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage (Nov. 9, 2014).

Kansas City’s famous jazz vocalist, Marilyn Maye (Oct. 4, 2014) as well as Natalie Merchant (Nov. 15, 2014) will appear in special concerts with the KCS.

“Our 2014/15 season is extraordinary, with a rich selection of great masterworks and also other works that may be new to our audiences,” Executive Director Frank Byrne, said. “We have a very impressive roster of great musicians joining us as guests on stage and on the podium, and each program has been carefully crafted to inspire and delight you. With each season in Helzberg Hall, we have seen a greater connection between the orchestra and our audiences, and we invite you to join us for the next chapter in this great musical adventure.”

When planning the Symphony’s 2014/15 Classical Series, Maestro Stern said that he turned to several sources for inspiration, one being the WW1 centennial and the city’s special connection with the memorial and museum, KCS said.

Drawing upon the years leading up to the Great War, Stern notes that — like all art — music is a mirror of its time. He contends the years prior to WW1 made a profound impact on the evolution of classical music, bringing forth the sound of modernism.

“The idea that our 2014/2015 season gives us ‘a soundtrack for a new time’ came from two directions,” Stern says. “With 2014 marking the WWI centennial, we aimed to revisit that extraordinary time of upheaval in the decades immediately ramping up to the outbreak of the war, when everything in the world was to change, politically, economically, socially and artistically. It’s astonishing to note the variety and range of music that composers produced as the 19th century slipped into the opening years of the 20th. In harmony, rhythm, melody and sound, modernism led to something entirely new.

“But with this thread running through our programs, focusing a spotlight on the music of that era throughout our season, we also put that foment into context: each program has some of the most essential, compelling and beautiful works of music of any time, including great works from today. Considered together, they indeed form a modern soundtrack for a new time.”

KCS announced that 2014/15 season ticket renewal process begins immediately. Current subscribers can expect to receive renewal packets in the mail shortly and also will have the option to renew online.

Classical subscribers who renew by March 1 receive last season’s (2013/14) prices. New subscribers also may purchase subscriptions now, and their seating preference will begin March 1. For more information, call (816) 4710-0400, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit

2014/15 Classical Series Highlights

With fourteen programs, each presented with three performances in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center, the Symphony’s bustling 2014/15 season opens Sept. 12-14, 2014. The classical season is full of great works from the repertoire, such as:

Sept. 12-14, 2014: Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5

Oct. 24-26, 2014: Brahms, Schicksalslied (featuring the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, led by Charles Bruffy)

Nov. 21-23, 2014: Strauss, Salome’s Dance from Salome

Nov. 28-30, 2014: Holst, The Planets (featuring the Women of the Symphony Chorus)

Jan. 9-11, 2015: Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring

Jan. 16-18, 2015: Mozart, Syphonmy No. 35 Haffner and Brahms, Symphony No. 1

Jan. 23-25, 2015: Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto No. 3

March 6-8, 2015: Beethoven, Leonore Overture No. 3 and Schumann, Symphony No. 3

March 27-29, 2015: Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 2 and Dvořák, Symphony No. 7

May 1-3, 2015: Strauss, Don Juan and Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20

May 29-31, 2015: J.S. Bach, Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins and String Orchestra and Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 (concert also features the Symphony Chorus)

June 5-7, 2015: Schoenberg, Verklärte Nacht and Ravel, Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloé

June 19-21, 2015: Strauss, Ein Heldenleben and Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No. 1

Returning Soloists and Guest Conductors

The Symphony welcomes back a hand-picked collection of world-renowned guest artists for the upcoming season, including Kansas City’s own soprano Joyce DiDonato who opens the season (Sept. 12-14, 2014), pianist Yefim Bronfman (Jan. 9-11, 2015) and violinist Pinchas Zukerman who performs with KCS Concertmaster Noah Geller (May 29-31, 2015).

The Symphony also said it is pleased to announce the returns of celebrated guest conductors Bramwell Tovey (Nov. 28-30, 2014) and Osmo Vänskä (March 27-29, 2015).

Pops Series and Family Series Highlights

The Symphony’s four-concert Pops Series provides subscribers the option to attend on Friday or Saturday evenings. Pops audiences can look forward to an especially fun grouping of concerts, ranging from cool swingin’ tunes of the 1960s with Music of the Mad Men Era (Sept. 19-20, 2014) to magical, spooky nights during Halloween weekend with Mysterioso (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2014) to a date night with the romantic piano music of Jim Brickman on Valentine’s Day weekend (Feb. 13-14, 2015) and a screening of Singin’ in the Rain (April 10-11, 2015) in partnership with Screenland Theaters.

The Symphony’s 2014/15 Family Series led by Associate Conductor Aram Demirjian plans to entertain and educate children with some of the world’s best music through light-hearted, shorter programs. The Family Series season opens with a Lemony Snicket mystery, The Composer is Dead (Sept. 21, 2014) and then the series features a Classical Kids production of Mozart’s Magnificent Voyage (Nov. 9, 2014). Families will be cheering for their favorite mascots from local professional sports teams and universities with the sports-themed show, Peter and the Wolf, Live! (Feb 22, 2015).

Holiday and Special Concert Highlights

The 98-year old holiday tradition continues as the Independence Messiah Choir joins with the Symphony and Symphony Chorus to perform three performances of Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 5-7, 2014) conducted by Associate Conductor Aram Demirjian. Symphony’s Christmas Festival also returns (Dec. 18-21, 2014). It is Kansas City’s grandest holiday concert with six performances of festive songs of the season and a visit from Santa.

The 2014/15 season also features special concerts, including performances from Kansas City’s own musical icon Marilyn Maye (Oct. 4, 2014) and American singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant (Nov. 15, 2014).

The Screenland at the Symphony Series continues with a showing of the 1922 silent horror film classic, Nosferatu, featuring accompaniment on the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ (Oct. 29, 2014) and screenings of the cheery, Hollywood musical, Singin’ in the Rain, (April 10-12, 2015).

Founded in 1982, the Kansas City Symphony has established itself as a major force in the cultural life of the community. Praised for performances of uncompromising standard, the orchestra is the largest in the region and enjoys a national reputation under the artistic leadership of Music Director Michael Stern.

The Kansas City Symphony performs nearly 100 concerts each year, while also serving as the orchestra for the Kansas City Ballet and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and often welcomes guests of international acclaim as part of its Classical and Pops subscription series.

Complementing its full schedule of concerts, the Symphony strives to enrich the lives of Kansas City residents by providing music education opportunities for children and adults, including KinderKonzerts, Young People’s Concerts and an Instrument Petting Zoo.

Highlights each season include a range of free masterclasses, events and concerts reaching more than 100,000 community members, including the annual Bank of America Celebration at the Station concert each Memorial Day weekend and Symphony in the Flint Hills every summer.

The Symphony has released three recordings on the Reference Recording label — Shakespeare’s Tempest, the Grammy®-winning Britten’s Orchestra, a recent Elgar/Vaughan Williams project plus an additional 20th century project highlighting composers Paul Hindemith, Sergei Prokofiev and Béla Bartók to be released in 2014 as well as a Saint-Saëns album for later release.

The Symphony and Michael Stern also have recorded for the Naxos label. KCS performances can be heard locally each week on KCUR 89.3 FM, Kansas City’s NPR affiliate. More information on the Kansas City Symphony is available at their website:

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