For the Kansas City Baroque Consortium, it’s a summer to celebrate women. The superb early music ensemble led by cellist Trilla Ray-Carter will present three concerts this summer under the title “Women of Note: The Woman’s Voice as Composer, Patron & Performer in the Baroque Era.”
The first of those concerts, “The Donne, the Dueling & the Divine” will take place June 21 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
“We were inspired by the centenary of the women’s right to vote,” Ray-Carter said. “We also recognized that this is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Barbara Strozzi, who is probably the best known female composer of the early baroque era. So we felt it was a year to explore baroque music, which I think most of the general public has little awareness of.”
Strozzi’s music will be featured on each of the three concerts, but each concert will also focus on the unique and different roles that women played in the music of the baroque. On the first concert, singers Suzanne Anderson, Lindsey Lang and Kayleigh Aytes will bring to life the female performers of the era. In addition to Strozzi, the music of Handel will be performed.
“There are many wonderful behind-the-scene stories about the dueling sopranos in Handel’s life, but we will also focus on the great virtuoso singers of the late 1500s and early 1600s,” Ray-Carter said. “They were referred to as the Concerto delle Donne, or the Consort of Ladies. This was a small group established by Duke Alfonso of Ferrara. He created these secret, by invitation only, concerts featuring these wonderful virtuosic singers, and he commissioned great works for them to perform.”
Countertenor Jay Carter and Aytes will be the soloists on the second concert on July 26. “Power, Rhetoric and Royalty” will highlight two of the great female patrons of the arts of the baroque: Queen Anne of Great Britain, a significant supporter of Handel in London, and Queen Christina of Sweden.
“Queen Christina was quite a fascinating character,” Ray-Carter said. “She abdicated the throne, became a Catholic and moved to Rome, where she surrounded herself with the intellectuals, artists, poets and philosophers in Italy. But she was also a great supporter of music. So we’ll hear the music she commissioned from wonderful Italian composers like Corelli and Bononcini.”
The final concert, “Timeless Voices,” will feature soprano Victoria Botero, who studied the music of Strozzi first-hand in Italy. A highlight of that concert will be the debut of a newly commissioned work by Ingrid Stölzel, a professor of composition at the University of Kansas.
“This continues what has now been a three-year commitment to commissioning new works for old instruments,” Ray-Carter said. “This is a big part of our desire to create connections between what we might consider old music or early or antique music to our contemporary language, which I think is a fascinating bridge to explore.”
The fact that all performances will be on period instruments, combined with Ray-Carter’s deep knowledge of early music, single out these concerts as don’t-miss events.
“The musical language of the early 1600s is rarely heard,” Ray-Carter said. “It’s certainly rarely offered on the stages of Kansas City. I think this music provides a really important portal into the early baroque era.”
Season tickets $50-$85. Individual tickets $18-$30. www.kcbaroque.org.
June 21: “The Donne, the Dueling & the Divine: The Composer’s Muse of the 17th & 18th Century.” 7:30 p.m. at St Paul’s Episcopal, 40th & Main.
July 26: “Power, Rhetoric and Royalty: Music for Queen Anne of Great Britain and Queen Christina of Sweden.” 7:30 p.m. at Village Presbyterian, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village.
Aug. 23: “Timeless Voices: Women Composers, Baroque & Contemporary.” 7:30 p.m. at St Paul’s Episcopal, 11 E. 40th St.
KC Symphony season finale
The Kansas City Symphony will conclude its season with two powerhouse works: Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 and Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” June 21-23 at Helzberg Hall. Michael Stern will conduct and British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor will be the soloist for the Brahms concerto.
When Grosvenor, 26, graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2012, he was awarded the Queen’s Award for Excellence for being best all-round student of the year. Since graduating, the honors have kept coming.
In 2012, Grosvenor became the youngest-ever double winner of the Gramophone Award. He is also the youngest person ever to sign with the Decca record label.
He’s also been making his mark performing in the world’s great concert halls, including a memorable performance with the Kansas City Symphony in Helzberg Hall in 2016.
8 p.m. June 21 and 22, and 2 p.m. June 23. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$85. 816-471-0400 or www.kcsymphony.org.
You can reach Patrick Neas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.