Arts & Culture

Rare pairing: Mandolin and accordion featured in Orpheus Chamber Orchestra show

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

The mandolin is not commonly featured at classical music concerts, and the accordion even less so. Both instruments will be highlighted, however, when the Friends of Chamber Music presents the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in concert Nov. 7 at Helzberg Hall.

Mandolinist Avi Avital and accordionist Ksenija Sidorova will perform a concerto for mandolin and accordion, which the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra commissioned from composer Benjamin Wallfisch. The program, “Stars Aligned,” also includes music by Bach and composers well known for their film music: Franz Waxman, Nino Rota and Miklós Rózsa.

Mandolinist Avi Avital and accordionist Ksenija Sidorova will perform a concerto. Submitted

The Orpheus will perform Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins aka the Double Concerto, one of the composer’s best-known works. The gorgeous slow movement shows Bach, pigeon-holed as a cerebral composer by many, to be a heart-on-his-sleeve romantic.

The rest of the program by three of Hollywood’s most famous composers features works that are smaller in scale than their lush cinematic scores, but no less evocative. Waxman’s Sinfonietta for String Orchestra and Timpani was a huge hit in Russia when it was performed in Moscow in 1962. It was also turned into ballets by the La Plata Festival in Argentina and the American Ballet Theatre.

Rota, best known for his scores for the films of Federico Fellini and the “Godfather” trilogy, composed his Canzona in 1935. One can already hear Rota’s distinctive style that would come into full bloom decades later. Rózsa, who wrote the stirring score for “Ben Hur,” also wrote his Hungarian Serenade in the 1930s. It’s a multi-movement work of Hungarian themes that’s as fulfilling as a big bowl of goulash.

7 p.m. Nov. 7. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $71.50-$81.50. 816-561-9999 or

Violinist Bella Hristova

Bella Hristova Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova has been winning accolades and wowing audiences around the world for several years. Thanks to the Harriman-Jewell Series, she’s about to be discovered by Kansas City.

Hristova will join the Youth Symphony of Kansas City to help the group celebrate its 60th anniversary with a special free Discovery Concert Nov. 9 at Helzberg Hall.

Hristova, 33, will perform a selection of solo works, as well as Pablo de Sarasate’s over-the-top virtuosic display “Zigeunerweisen.” On the second half of the concert, the Youth Symphony will perform Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture.

This is a free concert, and all the tickets have already been distributed, but the Harriman-Jewell Series encourages all who would like to attend to print a voucher from its website. In case any tickets are returned to the box office, which officials say is rather common for free concerts, a voucher will get you in.

7 p.m. Nov. 9. Helzberg Hall. Print voucher from

Bach, Bluegrass and Bourbon

Bluegrass music has its roots in the music of the British Isles, with many melodies going back to the 18th century and earlier. One can hear in this American folk music the toe-tapping dances, like the gigue, that inspired Bach and other Baroque composers.

The Kansas City Symphony will explore this connection in “Bach, Bluegrass and Bourbon” Nov. 8 at Helzberg Hall. It’s part of the Symphony’s popular Classics Uncorked series.

In addition to some authentic bluegrass pickin’ and grinnin’, associate conductor Jason Seber will lead the Kansas City Symphony in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. Afterward, enjoy a complimentary glass of wine in the Brandmeyer Great Hall, or choose a bourbon from a selection curated especially for this concert.

7 p.m. Nov. 8. Helzberg Hall. $25-$30. 816-471-0400 or

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