Soprano Victoria Botero is one of Kansas City’s most passionate and caring performers. A concert by Botero is more than just a recital of beautiful songs, it’s a reflection on the human condition.
One thinks of her program “Morena,” which celebrated love and family as expressed in the ancient music of the Middle East. Or her next concert, which explores the music of a Kansas City composer whose music is very much driven by human stories.
Botero’s Cecilia Series presents “The Music of Susan Kander” Jan. 25 at the 1900 Building and Jan. 27 at St. James United Methodist Church.
Kander was born and raised in Kansas City. She received her bachelor’s in composition from Harvard University and in 2017, received a master’s in composition from Conservatory of Music at Purchase College. She has been commissioned to write works for the Kansas City Chorale, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Botero will sing the world premiere of Kander’s “Eavesdropping,” a song cycle based on the poetry of Kansas City poet Michelle Boisseau written for Botero, and the Kansas City premiere of the one-woman opera “dwb *driving while black*”
On Jan. 27, Botero and company will give a free performance of “dwb *driving while black*” at St. James United Methodist Church. Immediately following the performance, there will be a panel discussion about racial profiling.
8 p.m. Jan. 25 at the1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods. $15-$30. 913-730-1905 or https://tinyurl.com/y7zzj5l9.
1 p.m. Jan. 27 at St. James United Methodist Church, 5540 Wayne Ave. Free. For more information, visit sjumckc.org.
Firebird, Aladdin and Rachmaninoff
Fantasy and romanticism will fill Helzberg Hall Jan. 25-27, when the Kansas City Symphony, led by Michael Stern, performs Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” Carl Nielsen’s incidental music for “Aladdin” and the White Peacock by Charles Tomlinso Griffes.
On the first half of the program, pianist Alon Goldstein will be the soloist for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
Even before “The Rite of Spring,” Stravinsky shook up the classical world with “The Firebird.” Written for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in 1910, “The Firebird” has the Russian sound of Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, and yet there’s something sparkling and modern about the ballet. The electrifying finale is one of the most exciting moments in classical music. Rachmaninoff said, “Great God, what a work of genius this is. This is true Russia.”
Danish composer Carl Nielsen is best known for his symphonies, but his incidental music for a staged production of the fairy tale “Aladdin” is another Nielsen masterpiece and should be much better known.
The American Impressionist composer Charles Tomlinson Griffes (yes, America had Impressionists) was inspired to write “The White Peacock” after a visit to the Berlin zoo. Griffes wrote that has his tone poem “pictures a wonderful garden filled with gorgeous color, where a white peacock moves about slowly ‘as the soul, as the breath of all this beauty.’ The music tries to evoke the thousand colors of the garden and the almost weird beauty of the peacock amid these surroundings.”
Rachmaninoff once said, “When I tell them in America that I will play the First Concerto, they do not protest, but I can see by their faces that they would prefer the Second or Third.” It may not be as popular, but the Piano Concerto No. 1 is a masterpiece in its own right.
8 p.m. Jan. 25 and 26 and 2 p.m. Jan. 27. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$82. 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.
St. Mary’s Episcopal’s Choral Evensong
Step inside Seattle’s Episcopal Cathedral some Sunday night at 9:30 and you might be astonished.
Every Sunday night, the Cathedral’s Choir sings the ancient service of Compline to a packed church of all ages, with young couples sitting on the floor embracing each other as the choir intones the Anglican chant.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church downtown is seeing a similar response to its excellent choral liturgies, like Choral Evensong, which will be sung by the William Baker Festival Singers on Jan. 27.
”At St. Mary’s, we don’t shy away from the ancient musical and liturgical traditions we’ve inherited, and find that many young people in today’s world long for an experience of the Divine that is mysterious and otherworldly,” said the Rev. Charles Everson, priest at St. Mary’s. ”Beautiful music, liturgy and architecture may seem to be incompatible with ministry to the poor, but in our tradition, they go hand in hand. At St. Mary’s, there are days when we provide groceries to those in need and then host a choral music concert on the same day. This is who we are.”
5 p.m. Jan. 27. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1307 Holmes St. Free. For more information, visit www.stmaryskcmo.org.
You can reach Patrick Neas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.