Arts & Culture

KC Symphony guests to perform ‘William Tell,’ Samuel Barber; James Galway at JCCC

Acclaimed pianist Alessio Bax will play Samuel Barber’s piano concerto with the Kansas City Symphony.
Acclaimed pianist Alessio Bax will play Samuel Barber’s piano concerto with the Kansas City Symphony. Kansas City Symphony

Esteemed Dutch conductor Edo de Waart will guest conduct the Kansas City Symphony March 8-10 at Helzberg Hall. In addition to popular works by Rossini and Mendelssohn, pianist Alessio Bax will join the orchestra for Samuel Barber’s notoriously difficult piano concerto.

Former music director of the San Francisco Symphony, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Milwaukee Symphony, de Waart’s musical credentials are impeccable. It will be great to hear him conduct two standards of the repertoire, as well as a lesser-known work.

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Dutch conductor Edo de Waart will guest conduct the Kansas City Symphony March 8-10 at Helzberg Hall. Kansas City Symphony

The concert will begin with the classic curtain-raiser, the “William Tell” Overture by Rossini. I’ve discussed this piece with conductor Riccardo Muti, who wished that audiences would put all thoughts of the “Lone Ranger” and “Looney Tunes” cartoons out of their mind and listen to the overture for what it is — a revolutionary call to arms.

Mendelssohn is a composer with one foot in the classical era and the other in the romantic. His Symphony No. 3 “Scottish” is a great example of this classical/romantic mix.

A classical, four-movement symphony, “Scottish” manages to paint a picture of Scotland, for which Mendelssohn had an abiding affection.

After a walking tour of Scotland, Mendelssohn wrote his family: “In the deep twilight we went today to the palace were Queen Mary lived and loved ....The chapel below is now roofless. Grass and ivy thrive there and at the broken altar where Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything is ruined, decayed, and the clear heavens pour in. I think I have found there the beginning of my ‘Scottish’ Symphony.”

American composer Samuel Barber was commissioned to write his Piano Concerto by G. Schirmer Inc. to celebrate the centennial of the music publisher’s founding. Since its first performance by pianist John Browning and the Boston Symphony in 1962, the work has had the reputation of being fiendishly difficult.

It is certainly virtuosic and requires a pianist of great strength to pull it off, but it’s also full of Barber’s trademark lyricism, so the pianist needs to be exquisitely sensitive as well. Bax is well-qualified on both counts.

8 p.m. March 8 and 9 and 2 p.m. March 10. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$85. 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.

James Galway at Carlsen Center

“The Man with the Golden Flute,” James Galway, will give a pre-St. Paddy’s Day concert at Yardley Hall on March 10. The legendary flutist turns 80 this year, and he’s celebrating with a U.S. tour that includes, luckily enough, the Carlsen Center.

Galway grew up in Belfast playing in flute bands, which are popular in Northern Ireland. After studying flute at the Royal College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and the Paris Conservatory, Galway was principal flutist for the Berlin Philharmonic from 1969-1975.

To the consternation of the Berlin Philharmonic’s music director, Galway decided to leave the orchestra and strike out as a soloist. The rest is history.

Galway, now one of the most well-known and beloved classical musicians, will perform an audience-friendly program at Yardley Hall. In addition to works by Antonin Dvorak, Camille Saint-Saens and and Hamilton Harty, there will, of course, be a selection of Irish folk tunes. A pre-show dinner will be available in the Capitol Federal Suite, Regnier Center. Reservations are required.

7 p.m. March 10. Yardley Hall, Carlsen Center Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park. $25-$40. 913-469-4445 or https://tinyurl.com/y3rtdheq.

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James Galway is known as “The Man with the Golden Flute.” Carlsen Center

Convent music by Te Deum Antiqua

In recent years, female composers overlooked for centuries have finally been getting their due. Te Deum Antiqua led by Matthew Christopher Shepard will shed light on some unjustly neglected music with “Convent Music” March 10 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

The female voices of Te Deum will be joined by two of Kansas City’s finest musicians, cellist Trilla Ray-Carter and organist Jan Kraybill, to bring the music of 17th-century Italian convents to life.

One can only imagine what these cloistered nuns, who never expected any recognition, would think of their music still being performed hundreds of years later. Many thanks to Shepard and Te Deum for giving this music the recognition it deserves.

7 p.m. March 10. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $15-$20. www.te-deum.org/donations/convent-music/

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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