Though we lost a guest conductor, we’re gaining another.
Osmo Vanska, conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, was originally scheduled to guest conduct the Kansas City Symphony this month. Lucky for him, the bitter labor dispute that threatened the existence of the Minnesota Orchestra has come to an end, and Vanksa, who had resigned as the orchestra’s conductor, was reappointed music director.
Unfortunately, his new schedule required that he cancel his appearance in Kansas City.
Enter Carlos Kalmar.
Kalmar, music director of the Oregon Symphony, Orquestra Sinfónica de Radio Television Espanola in Madrid and the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago, will lead the Kansas City Symphony in Vanska’s stead March 27-29 at Helzberg Hall.
He’ll conduct the Symphony No. 7 by Antonin Dvorak; Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, for which pianist Yevgeny Sudbin will be soloist, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Capriccio Italien.”
Kalmar is another dynamic, sought-after conductor in the Vanska mold. And such an interesting backstory.
He was born in Uruguay in 1958 to Jewish parents who fled to South America to escape the Nazis. At 15, Kalmar moved to Vienna to study music. He lived there for 38 years before moving to the United States to conduct the Oregon Symphony. He’s a native Spanish speaker, but he says his heritage is 100 percent Austrian.
He’s conducting a solid classical program here. The music was chosen by Vanska before he had to cancel, but Kalmar did a little tweaking.
“In cases like this, I look at the program and try not to change too many things,” he said, “but I simply did not like what he (Vanska) chose for the first piece. I don’t remember what it was. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure it’s fantastic music, but not exactly what I thought would be right.
“So in essence I suggested we do a different piece and gave the Kansas City Symphony at least five options. They came back and said ‘Wow. Wonderful. Let’s go with Tchaikovsky’s ‘Capriccio Italien.’”
The concert will be the first time Kalmar conducts Sudbin, the soloist for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which Kalmar considers the lightest concerto Beethoven wrote. Sudbin has previously performed in Kansas City on the Harriman-Jewell Series. Kalmar said the two will work together again to open the Grant Park Festival in Chicago in June.
“I’m looking forward to working with him first in Kansas City,” Kalmar said.
Kalmar is also altering the traditional classical concert format. Rather than starting with a short piece followed by a concerto, intermission and a major work, Kalmar will begin the concert with Symphony No. 7, then Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 after intermission and, in conclusion, “Capriccio Italien.”
“At the end of the day, the ‘Capriccio Italien’ is so brilliant, it makes a great ending piece for a concert,” he said. “And it shows, as with other composers of his time, how much Tchaikovsky loved Italy. It was influenced by his travel to Rome. It’s such a fun piece, and I think at the end of the concert everybody will just smile.”
Te Deum Chamber Choir’s Passion
The Te Deum Chamber Choir will perform a program appropriate for Lenten reflection March 28 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral and March 29 at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village. Matthew Christopher Shepard will conduct works by contemporary composers David Lang and Eriks Esenvalds that reflect on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
Grammy-winning soprano Estelí Gomez will be the soloist in “Passion and Resurrection” by Esenvalds, a young Latvian composer. The work is a setting of sacred texts in Latin and English. Lang’s “Little Match Girl Passion,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2008, uses Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a poor street girl as a metaphor for the passion story.
7:30 p.m. March 28 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St., and 3 p.m. March 29 at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. $10. Te-Deum.org.
Musica Vocale: “Singet!”
Musica Vocale, led by Arnold Epley, will perform masterpieces of the German choral repertoire today at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral and March 29 at First Presbyterian Church in Leavenworth. The works will range from the late 16th to the early 20th centuries.
On the program are three different settings of Psalm 98, which begins with the command to sing. Heinrich Schütz, Johann Sebastian Bach and Hugo Distler each provides a unique vision of the biblical text. Musica Vocale also will perform a Mass by Franz Schubert and a motet by Georg Schumann.
2 p.m. Sunday at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St., and 3 p.m. March 29 at First Presbyterian Church, 407 Walnut St., Leavenworth. $10-$15. MusicaVocale.org.
Kansas City Wind Symphony
The Kansas City Wind Symphony conducted by Phil Posey and Pat Setser will welcome spring with a concert Sunday at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village. The program includes works like “The Hounds of Spring” by Alfred Reed and “Cloudburst” by Eric Whitacre. Chriss Scherer will narrate Ernest Thayer’s baseball epic “Casey at the Bat,” with music by Randol Alan Bass.
7 p.m. Sunday. Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. Free. KCWindSymphony.org.