Arts & Culture

Pianist Jeremy Denk to appear at Folly with Academy of St. Martin in the Field

Pianist Jeremy Denk will conduct and perform at the concert with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on March 2 at Folly Theater.
Pianist Jeremy Denk will conduct and perform at the concert with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields on March 2 at Folly Theater. Harriman-Jewell Series

I wish I had a nickel for every time I said, “the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,” when I was an announcer on classical radio. The Academy was the go-to ensemble for baroque and classical era music.

Founded by Neville Marriner in 1958, they still are. The Academy will make its seventh appearance on the Harriman-Jewell Series on March 2. The program includes works by C.P.E. Bach and Haydn. The outstanding pianist Jeremy Denk will conduct and perform works by Mozart and Benjamin Britten.

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields soars when it comes to baroque and classical era music, and its Folly Theater concert offers both. A concerto by Italian baroque composer Tomaso Albinoni will start the program, which includes symphonies by C.P.E. Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn. There are also the works for piano and orchestra featuring Denk as soloist and conductor.

Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the Avery Fisher Prize, Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year award and a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Denk is one of today’s the most acclaimed pianists. He’ll perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 and Britten’s “Young Apollo.”

Many critics have commented that Mozart’s genius can best be found in his operas and his piano concertos. The Piano Concerto No. 12 is full of the Mozartean lyricism that gives his concertos an operatic quality. The piece opens with an orchestral tutti before the piano makes its entrance like an opera diva.

The second movement quotes a theme from the overture to “La calamita de’ cuori” by Johann Christian Bach, Mozart’s mentor who died the year Mozart composed it. The concerto ends with a jaunty rondo, while the orchestra and pianist engage in sparkling banter.

In 1939, Britten was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to write “Young Apollo,” a “fanfare” for piano, string quartet and string orchestra.

The title was taken from John Keats’ epic poem about the gods, “Hyperion.” Britten was especially taken with this line from the poem: “He stands before us — the new dazzling Sun-god, quivering with radiant vitality.”

A god like that deserves a fanfare.

7:30 p.m. March 2. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. $36.50-$91.50. 816-415-5025 or www.hjseries.org.

Kantorei presents jazz choral fusion

Speaking of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, in 2018 the British orchestra commissioned “Passion Music,” a fusion of jazz and choral music. Kansas City’s superb choral ensemble Kantorei will perform Will Todd’s “Passion Music” March 3 at Community Christian Church.

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Kantorei will perform Will Todd’s “Passion Music” March 3 at Community Christian Church. Kantorei

The work, which will receive its U.S. premiere Feb. 26 at the American Choral Directors International Conference, is a follow-up to Todd’s “Mass in Blue,” another jazz-choral fusion.

Jazz vocalist Millie Edwards and a seven-piece back-up band made up of students from the University of Missouri’s Conservatory of Music and Dance will join Kantorei for a concert that explores the spiritual side of jazz.

3 p.m. March 3. Community Christian Church, 4601 Main. $15-$25. https://tinyurl.com/y3taax94.

You can reach Patrick Neas at patrickneas@kcartsbeat.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.

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