Classical music isn’t as easy to find in the summertime as other genres of music. The Kansas City Symphony and the other arts organizations wind down in early June, and many musicians leave town to perform in festivals around the country or just take some well-deserved time off.
But some of the most fascinating classical concerts of the year happen in the summer, if you know where to look.
Celebration at the Station
This year, the annual concert by the Kansas City Symphony, conducted by Michael Stern, will be joined by Patti Austin, who also hosts the event.
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The concert will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ella Fitzgerald with a selection of her World War II-era songs. Of course, there will be lots of other American and patriotic music leading up to the grand finale, a spectacular fireworks display accompanied by the “1812 Overture.”
You can make it an all-day family affair with preconcert musical acts, food trucks and special events in Union Station and the National World War I Museum. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome.
Event site opens at 3 p.m. May 28. Concert at 8 p.m. Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road. Free. For more information, visit kcsymphony.org.
Mozart and ‘Merry Pranks’
It’s always an event whenever pianist Emanuel Ax performs with the Kansas City Symphony. His appearance June 2-4 will be especially festive as he performs two piano concertos by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
On the first half of the program, it’s Piano Concerto No. 19, and the second half will feature Piano Concerto No. 16. Opening the concert is Claude Debussy’s lovely “Jeux,” and to close, it’s Richard Strauss’ orchestral showpiece “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.” Michael Stern conducts.
8 p.m. June 2 and 3 and 2 p.m. June 4. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $28-$80. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.
Don Quixote and his trusty page, Sancho Panza, are riding back into town.
Bach Aria Soloists presents a return engagement of “The Adventures of Don Quixote” June 3 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. “Quixote” was one of the most popular concerts presented last year by the group.
The adventures of the deluded knight-errant are illustrated with exquisite Spanish Renaissance music performed by violinist Elizabeth Suh Lane, harpsichordist Elisa Williams Bickers, soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson and guitarist Beau Bledsoe. Actor Mark Robbins narrates and acts out Cervantes’ classic tale, bringing Don Quixote to life.
7:30 p.m. June 3. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $17-$35. bachariasoloists.com.
The blending of Jewish, Christian and Moorish cultures in Spain produced a rich legacy of music. Soprano Victoria Botero and her ensemble will explore this repertoire in a program she’s calling “Morena.”
The concert will feature songs composed by Sephardic, Muslim and Christian women in the Middle Ages. Botero by herself is worth the price of admission, but her ensemble features some of Kansas City’s finest musicians: Beau Bledsoe on guitar and oud, soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson, Gerald Trimble on viola da gamba and percussionist Brandon Draper.
July 22. 1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods. For more information, visit victoriabotero.com.
Bless you, Summerfest. We can always count on you for the cooling sounds of chamber music during the blistering month of July.
This year, Summerfest is hoping to bring in new audiences with lower ticket prices and a new format that eliminates intermission. Summerfest is also making its concerts multimedia by incorporating artwork and other visuals.
The ever-popular post-concert receptions will continue, however. It’s a great opportunity to chat with the artists to get a deeper appreciation of the music and how it’s performed.
Weekends in July. Saturday evening performances at White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry St. and Sunday afternoon performances at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1307 Holmes St. For more information, visit summerfestkc.org.
Ensemble Iberica and Making Movies
Ensemble Iberica’s performances are always intriguing and unusual, but on July 27 the group, founded and led by guitarist Beau Bledsoe, promises something really extraordinary.
Latin alternative band Making Movies will join Ensemble Iberica to explore the “pulse of the ports,” the multicultural music that developed in cities like Havana, Buenos Aires and New Orleans. This promises to be a vibrant evening of music with lots of exotic percussion to get you up and moving.
July 27. RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd. For more information, visit ensembleiberica.org.
‘An Evening With George Gershwin’
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” No American song better summarizes the season than that George Gershwin classic.
Musical Theater Heritage presents “An Evening With George Gershwin” Aug. 10-27 at the MTH Theater in Crown Center. The revue, which will feature “An American in Paris” and, of course, “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess,” is written and hosted by MTH impresario George Harter.
Aug. 10-27. MTH Theater at Crown Center. For more information, visit musicaltheaterheritage.com.
More classical music and dance
Kansas City Symphony, “Classics Uncorked: The Architecture of Music,” June 7, Kauffman Center. kcsymphony.org
Doc Severinsen with Kansas City Symphony, June 8, Kauffman Center. kcsymphony.org
Kansas City New Dance Partners, June 8, Kauffman Center. kauffmancenter.org
Heartland Men’s Chorus, “Show Tune Showdown,” June 10-11, Folly. hmckc.org
Kansas City Symphony, Symphony in the Flint Hills, June 10, Geary County, Kan. kcsymphony.org
Owen/Cox Dance Group, “The Goldberg Variations,” June 10-11, White Recital Hall. owencoxdance.org
Kinnor Philharmonic, June 11, Lewis and Shirley White Theatre. thejkc.org
KCBassfest, June 13-18, multiple venues. brownpapertickets.com/event/2919679
Kansas City Dance Festival, June 24, Folly. follytheater.org
Sound of Soul Concert and Dance of Mother Earth Performance, June 30, Nelson-Atkins Museum. nelson-atkins.org
Seamless Dance Theatre, “Blush,” July 15-17, H&R Block City Stage Theater. seamlessdance.com
Kansas City Symphony, “Season Finale: Rachmaninoff’s Second and Barber’s Violin Concerto,” June 16-18, Kauffman Center. kcsymphony.org
Kansas City Symphony, Screenland at the Symphony: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” June 21-24, Kauffman Center. kcsymphony.org
Heartland Chamber Music Festival, July 28-Aug. 5, Carlsen Center. heartlandchambermusic.org
Ensemble Iberica, “Viva Sevilla,” Aug. 18, Carlsen Center Polsky Theater. ensembleiberica.org
Compiled by Dan Kelly, email@example.com