Arts & Culture

Friends of Chamber Music’s new season glitters with talent, from quartets to pianists

The Academy for Ancient Music Berlin is scheduled to appear in Kansas City on Feb. 21.
The Academy for Ancient Music Berlin is scheduled to appear in Kansas City on Feb. 21. Friends of Chamber Music

The Friends of Chamber Music is pure class.

Cynthia Siebert, the founder and CEO of the series, has always maintained the highest standards. From the beautiful, glossy and informative program book to the performances themselves, one is always guaranteed a superlative time.

The Friends recently announced 2019-20 season glitters with more of the high quality concerts one has come to expect from the series.

As usual, the Friends of Chamber Music season has three components: the International Chamber Music Series, the Master Pianists Series and the Early Music Series.

The chamber music series features some of the world’s finest quartets and small ensembles. Next year, three quartets will bring their rarefied art form to Kansas City: the Calidore String Quartet, the Rolston String Quartet and the Paval Haas Quartet.

In addition to the quartets, the Berlin Early Music Academy, one of the world’s finest period instrument orchestras, is part of the Chamber Music Series. The group will perform the music of Bach and his contemporaries.

Siebert is a highly accomplished pianist and teacher, so she has exquisite taste when it comes to pianists. One can always expect the best of the best on her Master Pianists Series, like the four pianists scheduled to appear next season: Sergei Babayan, winner of the Robert Casadesus international piano competition; Fabio Bidini, an Italian pianist who was a finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; Benjamin Grosvenor, a young British pianist who recently wowed the audience at the Kansas City Symphony season finale; and Polish pianist Rafal Blechacz, the only pianist to win all five first-prizes at the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.

I have to confess that my favorite part of any Friends season is the early music. Some familiar favorites will be making a return: the Boston Camerata, the popular early music pioneers and a Friends of Chamber Music regular, will present a semi-staged production called “A Night’s Tale,” which will capture the chivalric world of the Middle Ages. Also: Fretwork, a British consort of viols will be joined by the Grammy Award-winning counter-tenor Iestyn Davies; the Boston Early Music Chamber Ensemble with counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky; and the Tallis Scholars will make its biennial appearance in Kansas City with a special Christmas concert.

All performances are at 7:30 p.m. except the Boston Camerata on April 19 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, 816-561-9999 or

Benjamin Grosvenor.jpg
Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor recently wowed the audience at the Kansas City Symphony season finale. Patrick Allen

Sept. 28: Calidore String Quartet. $15-$35. (1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway)

Oct. 11: Rolston String Quartet. $15-$35. (1900 Building)

Oct. 25: Fretwork with Iestyn Davies. $15-$35. (Linda Hall Library, 5109 Cherry St.)

Nov. 3: Sergei Babayan, pianist. $35. (Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.)

Nov. 24: Boston Early Music Festival with Philippe Jaroussky (Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road)

Dec. 12: The Tallis Scholars. $15-$35. (The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St.)

Jan. 24, 2020: Fabio Bidini. $35. (Folly Theater)

Feb. 21: Academy for Ancient Music Berlin. $35. (Folly Theater)

March 6: Paval Haas Quartet with pianist Boris Giltburg. $35. (Folly Theater)

March 20: Benjamin Grosvenor, pianist. $35. (Folly Theater)

April 3: Rafał Blechacz, pianist. $35. (Folly Theater)

April 19: Boston Camerata. $25-$35. (Linda Hall Library)

You can reach Patrick Neas at and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at

Correction: An earlier version of this story included a description of a program book cover that was from last season, not the 2019-20 one. Also, the dates for the Calidore String Quartet adn Rolston String Quartet shows have been corrected.