The Kansas City Chorale, conducted by Charles Bruffy, has released a new Super Audio CD from the distinguished British label, Chandos.
By PATRICK NEAS
Special to The Star
“Life and Breath” is a collection of sumptuous choral works by American composer René Clausen and is yet another testament to why the Kansas City Chorale is one of the finest choral ensembles in the world.
Clausen describes himself as a neo-romanticist, and his accessible music is quite popular with high school and church choirs. But Clausen also has written music that only the most accomplished choirs can perform well.
“Life and Breath” presents a range of Clausen’s music including the Mass for Double Choir, a work written for the Kansas City Chorale. This is the first recording of the Mass, which Clausen composed last year. It’s a marvelous setting of the Catholic liturgy, filled with colorful tone painting. The chorale is to be commended for commissioning this work, which is certain to become a favorite with other choirs.
Although Clausen delights in making beautiful sounds, there are occasional modernist dissonances, as in his setting of William Blake’s poem “The Tyger.” But mostly this is a CD that will appeal to the choral connoisseur and to those who simply want to be swept away on a cloud of glorious music.
And swept away you will be, especially if you have a Super Audio surround sound system. In this age of compressed MP3 downloads, it seems that many people don’t put a premium on high-quality audio, but for this release, Chandos’ engineers have outdone themselves to provide an ecstatic experience.
At a time when so much art reflects post-modern irony and cynicism, it’s refreshing to hear the heartfelt, optimistic music of Clausen. It’s exalting and joyful, and as welcome as a cool gust of air on a stifling, oppressive summer afternoon.
The Heartland Music Academy does fine work throughout the year, connecting eager young students with some of the area’s finest musicians and music teachers. Each summer, the academy presents the Heartland Music Festival, so the entire community can enjoy their superb music-making.
This year, the festival will include a faculty concert at 2 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Tuesday, a junior student concert at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, a scholars performance at 7 p.m. Friday and student concerts at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday. All performances are at the Carlsen Center at Johnson County Community College, and admission for all the concerts is free.
After the Friday night performance, the audience is encouraged to attend Passionato, a benefit for the Heartland Music Academy. For $50 you can enjoy even more music and wine and desserts, while helping this very worthy organization. For more information about the benefit and to purchase advance tickets, visit heartlandmusicacademy.com.
As part of the festival, the Heartland Academy will present the acclaimed Miami String Quartet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Carlsen Center.
Tickets for that concert are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. They may be purchased through the Carslen Center Box Office by calling 913-469-4445.
Guitars in the park
Brazilian guitar music sounds even better during a sweltering heat wave. You can tell yourself that, anyway, when you attend Guitars in the Park at 7 p.m. today at Oppenheimer Park, 12th and Walnut streets.
Michael McClintock and Jordan Shipley, who are Mistura Fina, will play Brazilian jazz and samba on guitars, mandolin and cavaquinho, a sort of Brazilian ukulele. Oppenheimer Park is quite shady, so bring a lawn chair, some food and a cold beverage, and you can imagine yourself on the Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro.
The free concert is a joint production of the Kansas City Guitar Society, the Downtown Council, the Jackson County Department of Parks and Recreation and DowntownKC.org. To find out more about the Kansas City Guitar Society, visit kansascityguitarsociety.org.
You can reach Patrick Neas at PatrickNeas@gmail.com.