Has it really been 35 years since the first Bachathon?
Those of us who venerate the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (and music lovers in general) owe John Schaefer, organist and director of music at Grace Holy Trinity Cathedral, and the Kansas City chapter of the American Guild of Organists a tremendous debt of gratitude for presenting this springtime festival of Bach’s music every May.
The annual Bachathon will begin today at 2 p.m. and will conclude with organist Jan Kraybill performing two preludes and fugues at 6:30 p.m. As the Bachathon slogan says, “Come when you can, leave when you must.”
Although organ music comprises the lion’s share of Bachathon (and that’s fine by me), there are plenty of instruments to provide variety.
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Other musicians taking part include flutist Lyra Pherigo, harpsichordists Thomas Zachacz and Nicholas Good and cellist Trilla Ray Carter.
A highlight of Bachathon will be a performance of the Lutheran Mass No. 3 performed at 6 p.m. by the Schola Cantorum and the Kansas City Baroque Consortium.2-7 p.m. today. Grace Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. Free, although donations will be accepted. For more information, kcago .com/bachathon.html
The Kansas City Symphony Chorus conducted by Charles Bruffy has been an integral part of some of the Kansas City Symphony’s most electrifying performances, like Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”
Now the finely honed ensemble will have a chance to shine on its own when it performs in Helzberg Hall this afternoon.
The Grammy-winning Bruffy will lead the chorale in Benjamin Britten’s Festival Te Deum, as well as excerpts from masses and oratorios by Felix Mendelssohn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Brahms, as well as spirituals and American folk songs. To make the concert even more special, Jan Kraybill, conservator of the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ, will accompany on Helzberg Hall’s magnificent instrument.3 p.m. today. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $15-$35. kcsymphony.org
The Harriman-Jewell Series will bring a touch of the Great White Way to Kansas City on Saturday when it presents Broadway star Brian Stokes in Helzberg Hall.
Stokes, who has appeared in some of Broadway’s biggest hits, including “Man of La Mancha,’ “Kiss Me Kate” and “Ragtime,” will perform songs on his most recent CD, “Simply Broadway.”
Accompanied by pianist Tedd Firth, Stokes promises a program that should delight fans of show tunes.8 p.m. Saturday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$75. 816-415-5025 or hjseries.org
.New Kantorei CD
In the past few years, several outstanding new choirs have appeared on the scene in Kansas City.
Kantorei, founded by Chris Munce in 2009, has made its mark by performing music from all eras with the highest standards.
The group has just released a compact disc on the Resonus Classics label called “Music and Sweet Poetry, Choral Music by Matthew Harris,” which demonstrates what a lush and full-bodied sound it can make.
I have to admit that I was not familiar with Matthew Harris’ work, but apparently he’s a big darn deal in the choral music world, and I can see why. The 58-year-old American composer writes music with a big romantic sound that’s very appealing.
To my ears, his music sounds very much in the English choral tradition, with a few modern twists drawn from jazz, pop and Broadway. The texts he sets are also very traditional, ranging from Latin prayers to William Shakespeare to William Blake. His Blake settings are especially delightful, by the way.
If you’re looking for challenging 21st-century music that explores new territory in musical composition, “Music and Sweet Poetry” is probably not for you. But if you want to hear some gorgeous singing and inspiring words, Kantorei’s new CD is right up your alley.