Magnificent and mellow sounds filled Helzberg Hall of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts when the Kansas City Symphony hosted Kenny G. for their second POPS concert of the season, Jan. 17-19.
Unlike many featured artists, Kenny G. opened the show and remained on stage for the entirety of the musical experience. Helzberg Hall never sounded so good as the mellow, melodious notes sang out from Kenny G.’s soprano saxophone. The Kansas City Symphony, led by Aram Demirjian, blended well with the tuneful pop musician who displayed a great stage presence and interactive performance by including the assembled audience in his performance.
The show opened with Kenny G. standing alone at the top of the choir balcony behind the KCS. As the spotlight illuminated him, he started with one of his signature hits and played from the top tier before coming down into the front row of the lofted area and interacting with the crowd. He performed most of his second number while shaking hands, high-fiving, and waving to all parts of the KCS orchestra, the audience on all sides, and displayed some of his circular breathing when he held one note for at least five minutes while he descended to the main stage and in front of the KCS.
The 3-day concert series, like most of the KCS classical concerts provided Friday, Saturday, and Sunday concerts for the accommodation of large, consistent patrons. The Kenny G. program attracted outsiders, Kenny G. fans, and jazz enthusiasts as well. Most concerts were sell outs.
As an added bonus, Kenny G. stayed after each show and signed autographs, photos, and CDs of purchasers. Also for sale, his personally designed soprano saxophone series III and series IV were available. A representative said the series III sold out and the series IV had only four units left with many still in line for autographs and merchandise.
For added fan involvement and to drive the masses to the merchandise table during the intermission, Kenny G. announced that persons who registered and received a ticket would be eligible for an on stage drawing during the second half of the concert for one of his soprano saxophones. One lucky person won one at each performance. After the drawing, the winner and a guest were brought on stage where Kenny G. took the new saxophone and played the first song on it before presenting it to the winner.
That was just a part of his crowd interaction. He waved, joked, smiled, laughed, and talked with audience members throughout the show. He played to the front, back and sides of the auditorium so no area felt left out of his performance. He did what he could to keep his audience involved as well as possible.
Songs performed in the show included: “Loving You,” “Silhouette,” “Havana,” “Forever in Love,” “Desafinado,” “Olympic Theme,” “Deck the Halls / Twelve Days of Christmas / White Christmas,” “Heart and Soul,” “Sabor a mi,” “Innocence,” “Songbird,” “My Heart Will Go On,” and the encore, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.