There is a treasure inside Grand Avenue Temple.
The downtown United Methodist church is home to the Opus 190, 3,500-pipe Skinner organ built for the church by the Ernest Skinner’s company in 1912.
It’s a rare 4-manual Skinner organ that has not been mechanically or tonally modified by anyone other than Skinner himself. The church and the organ are on the National Historic Registry.
You’ll have a chance to hear this magnificent instrument Monday night in a concert sponsored by the Kansas City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Thomas Murray, who is currently professor of music and university organist at the Yale School of Music, will perform a program of romantic literature that is particularly suited to the Skinner organ’s rich, tonal palette.
Chloe Stodt, dean of the Kansas City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for 2014-15, said that her chapter wanted to involve the Grand Avenue Temple’s historic organ in this year’s guild concert season.
“We wanted to have an artist play that instrument,” she said, “and we thought that Thomas Murray, who is internationally renowned for playing organs of this style, would be the best candidate. If anybody would be able to make that organ speak, he would. He was very happy to accept, and we are thrilled that he is coming.”
Murray will perform music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Cesar Franck, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a selection of transcriptions, including the Holberg Suite by Edvard Grieg.
Murray’s concert is part of the Kansas City guild chapter’s regular monthly programs, which are on the third Monday of each month, September through May, except for December.
7:30 p.m. Monday at Grand Avenue Temple, 205 E. 9th. Free. www.kcago.com.
If you’re craving great music, but on a budget, consider concerts presented by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. They’re some of the best-kept secrets in town.
The Conservatory Orchestra, for example, is an ensemble of outstanding musicians. They will present a fall concert Friday night at White Recital Hall — and the most expensive ticket is only $8.
Robert Olson will conduct a fine program, too: the Ruy Blas Overture by Felix Mendelssohn, the Dances of Galanta by Zoltan Kodaly and Jean Sibelius’ epic, sweeping Symphony No. 2.
Brown Bag Concert
An intimate lunchtime concert is the perfect setting for harpsichord.
The harpsichord is best appreciated in a smaller venue, like a church, rather than a concert hall, which can swallow its delicate sound.
So Johann Sebastian Bach’s harpsichord masterpiece, the “Well-Tempered Clavier,” should sound wonderful in Immanuel Lutheran Church in Westport.
Marian Thomas and Leora Nauta will perform the first volume of the work Friday. The concert is part of the Westport Center for the Arts’ Brown Bag Concert Series.
Thomas and Nauta will be playing a French double-manual harpsichord, which Thomas constructed from a Frank Hubbard kit in 1983. Thomas actually spent a year in Hubbard’s workshop to learn all the intricacies of harpsichord building before tackling her own instrument.
12:10 p.m. Friday at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1700 Westport Road. Free. www.wcakc.org.
“Music of the Mad Men Era”
The “Mad Men” era of the early 1960s was America’s last gasp at swingin’ stylishness before patchouli-scented hippie culture came to the fore.
The Kansas City Symphony, led by guest conductor Steven Reineke, will perform music that epitomizes the classic cool of the early ’60s, with music by Paul Anka, Brenda Lee and Burt Bacharach.
To really get into the vibe, have an Old Fashioned in the lobby before the show and freshen it up at intermission.
But please, no smoking in the Kauffman Center.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $40-$85. 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.
The Kansas City Symphony hits high notes in new financial report
The Kansas City Symphony is doing something right.
In addition to providing high-caliber music under the leadership of music director Michael Stern, the orchestra is on financially sound footing, according to its recent fiscal report.
Ticket sales for the Kansas City Symphony were up 16 percent for the fiscal year 2014. In addition, the Symphony is expecting to have an estimated budget surplus of $450,000.
Classical Series concerts averaged 96 percent sold, Pops Series averaged 97 percent sold and Family Series averaged 94 percent sold.
No small feat in an era when orchestras across the country are facing financial crises.
“We do not measure our success by other people’s failure,” said the Symphony’s executive director, Frank Byrne. “Being better than other organizations that are not well-run is not a very high standard. What we have done at the symphony is to take our artistic mission to another level.
“I sincerely believe that audiences respond to quality,” Byrne said. “The quality of our orchestra and the manner in which we treat people when they come to the symphony and the overall customer experience create an environment where people leave the hall excited, energized and they want to come back.”
Donors have increased their gifts by 40 percent in the past fiscal year, with more than a third of those coming from first-time donors.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished together,” Byrne said. “I think the Kansas City Symphony is setting the standard for how an orchestra can thrive and be connected to its community.”