Renowned violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter isn’t going to mind if your cellphone goes off during her concert Sunday.
At least during a portion of her program.
As part of her Harriman-Jewell Series concert, Mutter will perform Sebastian Currier’s “Ringtone Variations.”
“It’s a tongue-in-cheek thing, making fun of the circumstances we often find in concerts,” Mutter said. “We do play ring tones, but on our instruments.”
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The piece was commissioned by the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation, which provides scholarships and support for young artists around the world.
Mutter, who gave a recital on the Harriman-Jewell Series in 2008, is performing this time with the Mutter Virtuosi, a group of 15 incredibly gifted players whose careers she is carefully nurturing.
“I’m trying to find the right teachers for them and link them up with conductors, other musicians, managers, record companies,” Mutter said. “It’s an all-encompassing care package I’m bestowing upon these young people. We have an American student in our ensemble, lots of Europeans as well as Chinese and Koreans.
“It’s a very multicultural string ensemble, which illustrates so well something that all of our musicians believe in: the language of music is bridge-building, and musicians are ambassadors of good will and wonderful thoughts.”
In addition to “Ringtone Variations,” Mutter and her proteges will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Octet for Strings” and the big hit on the program, Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” a piece one would think she has played thousands of times.
“I don’t think I’ve played it as often as people expect me to have played it,” Mutter said. “To be honest, for me it doesn’t make much of a difference if I’ve played a piece 10 times or a hundred times. I’m terribly excited by music. With ‘The Four Seasons,’ we’ll all have great fun together. It’s such a colorful, wonderfully narrative piece of music. It’s an endless ground for experimenting with tempi and colors and stylistic details.”
But with “Ringtone Variations” on the program, one wonders if Mutter has ever been rudely interrupted by a smartphone’s electronic marimba.
“That does happen, but rarely, thanks to God,” she said. “One only hopes it doesn’t happen in the most delicate, most fragile, most beautiful passage. Of course, you’re aware of it when it is rather quiet. But during ‘Ringtone Variations,’ I would actually invite the audience to let their phones ring. It’s the only piece on the program where you’re not going to be shushed too badly.”
In 2004, the Harriman-Jewell Series inaugurated its Discovery Concert Series, and what a gift to the community it has been.
These are free concerts, but the artists are world-class, so anyone, no matter his or her financial situation, can enjoy the finest in classical music.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Discovery Concerts and Harriman-Jewell’s golden anniversary, Simon Trpceski is returning for a Discovery Concert this Saturday at the Folly Theater.
The Macedonian pianist was the first artist to appear on the aptly named concert series. Kansas City got to discover this amazing pianist, and in the past 10 years, so has the whole world.
Now one of classical music’s big stars, Trpceski sells out concerts that command premium ticket prices.
But all you need to do is print off your tickets and then enjoy Trpceski performing virtuosic music by Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel and Francis Poulenc.
7 p.m. Saturday. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. Free. Print your tickets at hjseries.org. Limit four per household.
Kansas City Symphony
Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony continue this year’s theme of music written in the years leading up to World War I with a blockbuster program of orchestral showpieces next weekend.
The concert will start with “La Valse,” a work commissioned from Ravel by Serge Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes.
After hearing a piano run-through of the work, Diaghilev acknowledged that it was a masterpiece but declared that it was “not a ballet. It’s a portrait of ballet.”
Although Diaghilev passed on the piece, other ballet companies have choreographed it over the years. But its place in the concert hall as one of Ravel’s most dazzling compositions is firmly established.
Philippe Quint, a young violinist who has been making fine recordings and receiving critical raves, will perform “Serenade (After Plato’s Symposium)” by Leonard Bernstein.
This piece has a personal connection to Stern. The serenade was first performed in Venice in 1954 with Bernstein conducting and Stern’s father, Isaac, as violin soloist. Although it’s one of Bernstein’s serious works, it has a big entertainment factor. Not often heard in the concert hall, it should be much better known.
The main work on the program is the Symphony No. 3 by Jean Sibelius. This is another work that doesn’t get the play it deserves. It’s a stunner. This is Sibelius at his frosty, Finnish best, with a sweeping, cinematic finale that’ll have you seeing the aurora borealis.
As if all this weren’t enough, the concert will conclude with the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from the opera “Salome” by Richard Strauss. Classical music doesn’t get more erotic than this. In fact, it’s downright kinky.
I try not to use the word legend when describing an artist, but there’s just no getting around it when you’re talking about Burt Bacharach. He has written 48 Top 10 hits and nine No. 1 songs, he’s a three-time Academy Award winner and has won the Grammy eight times. Yeah, he’s a legend.
The 86-year-old Bacharach (who was born in Kansas City, by the way) and his combo will perform many of his hit songs Friday night at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.
Bacharach studied with French composer Darius Milhaud, who told the young man, “Never be afraid to be melodic.” Bacharach certainly took that advice to heart.
If you love the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, you’ll want to attend the lecture “Bach Enlightened” by Christoph Wolff on Saturday at the Kansas City Central Library to gain a much deeper understanding of the composer.
Wolff, who is director of the Bach Leipzig-Archiv and a professor at Harvard University, is perhaps the world’s leading authority on the life and music of Bach. It’s fitting his appearance in Kansas City is being sponsored by the Bach Aria Soloists.
7:30 p.m. Saturday. Kansas City Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. Free but must reserve admission at bachariasoloists.com.
“Cosi Fan Tutte”
Some of the most satisfying opera performances I’ve seen in Kansas City have been presented by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance.
These enthusiastic young performers bring a freshness and verve to opera that is totally disarming.
This week the conservatory will give four performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte.” It is setting the flighty tale of young men testing the faithfulness of their girlfriends in the world of college fraternities and sororities. Just like the Lyric Opera, the conservatory performs its operas in the original language and uses English supertitles so you know what’s going on.
The Friends of Chamber Music will present the elegant Quatuor Ebene Friday night at the Folly Theater.
This French string quartet performs the classics, but it also has quite a way with jazz. In addition to music by Franz Joseph Haydn and Mendelssohn, Quatuor Ebene will offer a selection of jazz favorites.
To get a taste of what these guys can do, visit the Friends’ website to check out a video of the quartet performing the surf classic “Miserlou.” Cowabunga!
Kansas City Wind Symphony
This sounds intriguing. The Kansas City Wind Symphony will perform a transcription of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” for piano and wind orchestra Sunday at Village Presbyterian Church.
Kairy Koshoeva, who is on the faculty of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, will be the piano soloist. The free concert will include other works as well.
7 p.m. Sunday. Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. kcwindsymphony.org.
“Barber of Seville”
If you attended the Lyric Opera’s production of “The Italian Girl in Algiers” and have now been bitten by the Rossini bug, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera will present a live HD broadcast of “The Barber of Seville” this Saturday in select local movie theaters.
“Barber” is right up there with “Italian Girl” as one of Gioachino Rossini’s funniest operas, and the Met’s production stars Lawrence Brownlee and Isabel Leonard, two singers who know how to do Rossini right.
11:55 a.m. Saturday in select local movie theaters. There will be an encore presentation on Nov. 26. $15-$22. For tickets and participating theaters, visit FathomEvents.com.
St. Cecilia Music Festival
This will be the fifth year that the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception has celebrated the feast of St. Cecilia with a music festival. That’s very appropriate, given that the second century Roman martyr is the patron saint of music.
This year’s festival, which takes place Sunday, will feature some of the finest Catholic choirs in the area: St. Thomas More Children’s Choir, St. Gabriel the Archangel, St. John LaLande, Our Lady of the Presentation, Cure of Ars and the cathedral’s own Schola Cantorum led by Mario Pearson, who founded the festival five years ago.
3 p.m. Sunday. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St. Free will donation. kcgolddome.org.