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Kansas City Symphony plays new compositions by 3 UMKC doctoral candidates

Associate Conductor Aram Demirjian will conduct the Symphony in the following student works:  Brian Lynn, "Resident 1"; Joseph Kern, "Stähldämmerung"; and Phil DeWalt, "Ignatius Wishes He Could Dance".
David Bickley

Three University of Kansas City-Missouri Conservatory of Music and Dance (UMKC) doctoral candidates hear their compositions played by the Kansas City Symphony at 10a.m., Monday, March 17, the Symphony just announced today.

The upcoming readings occur in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Helzberg Hall and is both free and open to the public. Reservations, though, are required. Parking is available in the Arts District garage for this event is $7.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, specifically Helzberg Hall, serves as home for the KCS performances. And, according to a spokesman for the KCS, having a piece of music selected to be read by the KCS is alike “an Oscar-winning director reviewing a budding screenwriter’s script or a James Beard award-winning chef giving notes to a promising culinary student. The KCS professional musicians of the critically acclaimed Kansas City Symphony have selected to play through the works of three deserving doctoral composition students.”

Associate Conductor Aram Demirjian will conduct the Symphony in the following student works: Brian Lynn, Resident 1; Joseph Kern, Stähldämmerung; and Phil DeWalt, Ignatius Wishes He Could Dance.

These selected composition students have the invaluable opportunity to hear their works performed live by a professional orchestra in the acoustically superb setting of Helzberg Hall. The students also will receive feedback from Associate Conductor Aram Demirjian, the symphony spokesman said. This serves as not only a wonderful opportunity for the students but also a chance for the Symphony to read through new music.

Music Director Michael Stern said that he is thrilled about the continued partnership between the Symphony and the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. While the Symphony and Conservatory have coordinated efforts on various programs in the past, the two organizations formalized their partnership in fall of 2010 when Stern conducted the first Conservatory Orchestra concert that fall. The first composition reading session took place in spring 2011 at the White Recital Hall on the UMKC campus. Organizers moved the composition readings to Helzberg Hall in spring 2012 during the Symphony’s first season in the Kauffman Center.

“This possibility of allowing young composers the chance to hear their music professionally rehearsed, played, and critiqued is a unique and extraordinarily gratifying concept,” Stern said. “I think for these young and talented composers to work with this caliber of musicians, from Aram Demirjian to all the players, is a great opportunity. It also highlights our core values and many of the goals towards which we are continually striving to achieve and improve. I am proud of our mission at the Symphony, for many reasons. More than just playing concerts, we want to be the engine of music in our city and the entire region, in order to contribute to the musical and artistic life of the entire community, in all sorts of ways, with all different kinds of repertoire, and for as many constituencies as possible.”

Stern thinks that the Symphony has an ongoing commitment to nurturing and championing music for “our time.”

“We want to elevate the artistic life of the city,” he said. “We believe in young people and the talent they can develop to make great things happen. And above all, we believe in the power of music and the arts to make our world better. This project reflects all of those aspects, and we are all thrilled to make it an ongoing success.”

To learn more about the Symphony’s commitment to furthering music opportunities for students, visit the education page on the Symphony’s website, To learn more about the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, visit:

To reserve tickets, go to:, or call the box office at (816) 471-0400.

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