Classical music and dance 2012 | The Bard, Nixon and Bach

It will be hard to match the excitement of the grand opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, but the second half of the 2011-2012 arts season promises enough thrills to keep Kansas City classical music lovers on the edge of their seats.

World-renowned orchestras, pianists and vocalists, a ballet inspired by Shakespeare and an opera inspired by Nixon, as well as a festival dedicated to Bach are some of the noteworthy classical events to look forward to this year.

Kansas City Symphony

Michael Stern programmed some outstanding concerts for the Kansas City Symphony’s first season in Helzberg Hall, with much of the best yet to come. For example, cellist Yo-Yo Ma will join the Symphony for Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto Jan. 20 to 22. Tickets are officially sold out. Call 816-471-0400 for possible last-minute ticket information.

International opera sensation and Prairie Village native Joyce DiDonato has expressed her pride in Kansas City and its new Performing Arts Center many times. She’ll perform in Helz-berg Hall for the first time March 23 to 25 when she joins the Symphony to sing an aria by Gioacchino Rossini and gives the Kansas City premiere of “The Deepest Desire” by acclaimed composer Jake Heggie. Keeping with the operatic theme, the Symphony also will perform selections from “Carmen” by Georges Bizet, as well as Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 85 “La Reine” (“The Queen”). Perhaps in honor of DiDonato?

Like Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Joshua Bell is popular even with those who aren’t classical music fans. Bell will be the soloist for Edouard Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” with the Symphony June 15 to 17. On the same program, the Symphony will perform the world premiere of Stephen Hartke’s “Muse of the Missouri.” Audiences will also finally get to hear Helzberg Hall’s 5,548-pipe Casavant organ when renowned organist Paul Jacobs performs Camille Saint-Saën’s mighty organ symphony.

To conclude the season, the Symphony and its chorus, directed by Charles Bruffy, will perform Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, June 22 to 24. The joyous “Choral” symphony will be the perfect way to cap an exhilarating season, and Stern has lined up an impressive array of soloists to do the work justice: soprano Erin Wall, mezzo soprano Sasha Cooke, tenor Thomas Cooley and bass Robert Pomakov. Also on the final program is Alan Hovhaness’ haunting “Mysterious Mountain” symphony.

For tickets and info, call 816-471- 0400, or visit



Lyric Opera

“Nixon in China” by John Adams, which was first performed by the Houston Grand Opera Company in 1987, is now considered a watershed American opera. The Lyric Opera of Kansas City will give the opera its local premiere in March. “Nixon in China” is considered a masterpiece of minimalism, but Adams drew on other influences as well, including big band and jazz. It’s unlike anything the Lyric has done before. See

tickets. kcopera.org

for more information.

Kansas City Ballet

The Kansas City Ballet will present the full-length “Romeo and Juliet” by Sergei Prokofiev from Feb. 17 to 26. The work, based on William Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, has been an audience favorite since it was first performed in 1940 by the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. The Kansas City Ballet’s performance will be choreographed by Ib Andersen, whose work is often rooted in the classicism of George Balanchine and Michel Fokine.

For tickets and more information, call 816-931-2232, or visit




The Harriman-Jewell series will bring the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and its warm, full-bodied sound to Helzberg Hall for a concert at 7 p.m. Jan. 25. The orchestra, led by Jeffrey Tate, will perform Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D Major with violinist Guy Braunstein.

Vivica Genaux is a truly astonishing singer but she specializes in early music, so she’s not as well-known as she should be. The Harriman-Jewell Series will present Genaux with Europa Galante conducted by Fabio Biondi at 8 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.

Genaux will perform a program of Vivaldi, and if the only Vivaldi you know is the Four Seasons, be prepared to have your mind blown. Vivaldi wrote some of the most flamboyant opera arias ever written, and Genaux performs them with a thrilling vivaciousness.

The Harriman-Jewell series will present opera sensation and heartthrob Juan Diego Florez in recital at 2 p.m. Feb. 19 in Helzberg Hall and Murray Perahia, one of the world’s greatest pianists, at 7:30 p.m. March 14 at the Folly Theater.

For tickets and more information, call 816-415-5025 or visit



Friends of Chamber Music

Lovers of Johannes Sebastian Bach’s music will rejoice when the Friends of Chamber Music presents a Bach Festival Jan. 24 to Feb. 19. The amazing pianist Konstantin Lifschitz will perform Bach’s works — from memory — in several venues around town. In addition to solo recitals, Lifschitz will perform the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra conducted by Bruce Sorrell in the Folly Theater on Jan. 24, and Lifschitz will join the orchestra for two of Bach’s keyboard concertos in Helzberg Hall on Feb. 14.

Another great pianist, Richard Goode, will be presented by the Friends of Chamber Music this year. Friends president Cynthia Siebert first brought Goode to Kansas City in 1987 when he performed all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. She has brought him back several times, and every concert is a special memory for lovers of piano music. Goode will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Beethoven and Frederic Chopin at 8 p.m. March 9 in the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.

For tickets and more information, call 816-561-9999 or visit

chamber music.org


Dinnerstein at Yardley Hall

Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College continues to bring performers for every musical taste. At 8 p.m. Jan. 28, pianist Simone Dinnerstein will perform a program of Bach, Schumann and Chopin. Since her self-financed recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations became a smash critical and popular hit in 2007, Dinnerstein has played to sell-out performances all over the world. Yardley Hall’s warm acoustics should be the perfect setting for her exquisite pianism.

Full orchestras sound great in Yardley Hall, too. The Tschaikowski St. Petersburg State Orchestra, conducted by Roman Leontiev, will perform there at 2 p.m. March 4. The orchestra will play the lush Prelude and Liebestod from Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” and Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” They’ll be joined by violinist Mikhail Krutik for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 “The Turkish.”

For tickets and more information, call 913-469-4445 or visit