Time flies when you’re playing Bach. The Bach Aria Soloists, made up of four of Kansas City’s finest musicians — violinist, founder and artistic director Elizabeth Suh Lane, keyboardist Elisa Williams Bickers, soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson and cellist Hannah Collins — is celebrating its 20th anniversary next season.
The group has lined up a gala schedule that focuses on Bach, of course, but includes lots of other music. The season will kick off Sept. 8 with Bach, Beer and Brats at Boulevard Brewing Company.
Bach Aria Soloists will be joined by BAS alumni guitarist Beau Bledsoe, soprano Rebecca Lloyd and keyboardist Jan Kraybill. Pianist Roger Wilder will provide jazz interludes between the classical selections.
“It’s a celebration,” Lane said. “There will be a lot of food from Affäre German restaurant and, of course, delicious beer from Boulevard. And there will be music all evening, too. It’s very casual. There will be birthday cake.”
The very first BAS concert two decades ago was a hauskonzert or house concert in a showcase home. That show was so popular that these hauskonzerts have become an annual event. The group will present another one Oct. 20 at the Mission Hills home of Mandy and Jaswinder Singh.
“Sarah will sing some Purcell arias and Hannah and I will do a Kodály duo and Elisa will play some keyboard music by Buxtehude and Rameau,” Lane said. “We wanted to pay homage to the heritage of the Singhs, so we’re consulting composer Reena Esmail for some Indian-flavored music.”
On Dec. 14, the Holiday Concert will feature bright and festive baroque music. Special guest Kyle Stegall will join the group for a program of Bach, Mozart and Vivaldi, as well as traditional and not-so-traditional carols.
“Kyle is a tenor who’s been performing at a lot of different Bach festivals around the country and he’s going to do two incredible Bach arias,” Lane said. “They’re two of my favorites, and they’re perfect for the holiday season.”
On Feb. 22, 2020, it’s a Bach Extravaganza at Westport Presbyterian Church with Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. Bickers will have an opportunity to display her dazzling talents on the church’s gorgeous Martin Pasi organ.
“We all have such tremendous respect for Dr. Christoph Wolff,” Lane said. “This will be the third time he will comment alongside our program. They’ve always been sold out concerts because a lot of people are interested to hear about Bach the person, his life and his music with the insight that only Dr. Wolff can bring. You can ask him literally anything about Bach, and he seems to have answer.”
The season will end with “An Evening with Rodney Marsalis” at Village Presbyterian Church. Rodney is the cousin of renowned jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. To cognoscenti, Rodney is a trumpeter of equally impressive talents.
“My friendship with Rodney goes back to our Tanglewood days as students,” Lane said. “He has his own brass ensemble in Philadelphia and they do all their own brass arrangements and they are absolutely outstanding. We’re going to utilize Village Presbyterian’s organ a lot. There’s a beautiful concerto by Bach that we’ve never done that he will perform with Elisa. I’ve spoken with Rodney, and he feels like this program will be the crème de la crème of baroque music.”
Sept. 8: Bach, Beer and Brats: Bach Aria Soloists 20th Anniversary Celebration. 5:30 p.m. at Boulevard Brewing Company, 2534 Madison Ave. $50.
Oct. 20: 20th Annual October Hauskonzert. 7 p.m. at the Singh residence.
Dec. 14: BAS Holiday Concert. 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $17-$35.
Feb. 22, 2020: Bach Extravaganza with Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. 7:30 p.m. at Westport Presbyterian Church. $17-$35.
April 18: BAS Presents: An Evening with Rodney Marsalis. 7:30 p.m. at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. $17-$35.
Summer Singers of Kansas City
William Baker always likes to present a summer blockbuster with his Summer Singers of Kansas City. Last year it was Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” and this year he’ll conduct Handel’s epic “Israel in Egypt” Aug. 18 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.
“After enjoying the excesses of ‘Carmina Burana’ in 2018, it seems fitting that the Summer Singers of Kansas City spend a season in plague and pestilence in 2019,” Baker said.
If Cecil B. DeMille had composed an oratorio, it would have been “Israel in Egypt.” Handel’s wide-screen, technicolor spectacle has it all: locusts, frogs, the parting of the Red Sea, everything except Charlton Heston.
“Handel was such a gifted storyteller in his use of the elements of music to bring the narrative alive,” Baker said. “For ‘Israel in Egypt,’ he paints on one of his largest canvases with double choir, large orchestra and more choral movements than solos.”
After “Messiah,” “Israel in Egypt” is easily Handel’s most popular oratorio. And for good reason. It’s so much fun.
“‘Israel in Egypt’ is a challenging work, particularly for a summer chorus with nine weeks of rehearsal,” Baker said, “but the dramatic story and thrilling choruses give it a heroic dimension, one that lingers with joy in musical memory.”
2 p.m. Aug. 18. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $5-$50. https://tinyurl.com/y6qn4nta.
Free chamber music recital
Summer is a great time for adventurous classical music fans to explore off-the-beaten-path offerings.
Cellist Catherine Lehr Ramos and pianist Hyunki Yoon — both superb local musicians — will present a chamber music recital Aug. 17 at Guardian Angels Catholic Church.
The duo will perform Robert Schumann’s charming Five Pieces in Folk Style and Franz Schubert’s Sonata and Arpeggione, but they’ll also go farther afield with tangos by Astor Piazzolla and an arrangement of a Korean folk song.
The concert is free, but donations will be accepted to benefit children battling cancer at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
6 p.m. August 17. Guardian Angels Catholic Church, 1310 Westport Road. Free. For more information, visit www.guardianangelskc.org/events.
You can reach Patrick Neas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.