Arts & Culture

Palace of Versailles organist to give baroque recital at Village Presbyterian Church

Jean-Baptiste Robin is the organist of the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles.
Jean-Baptiste Robin is the organist of the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles.

Goethe said that architecture is “frozen music” and one can see that in Versailles.

The palace’s crystal chandeliers, cherubs and gilt ornamentation are the visual manifestation of the same French baroque spirit that can be heard in the music of Rameau, Couperin and Lully.

Jean-Baptiste Robin, the organist of the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles, will give a recital Sept. 27 at Village Presbyterian Church that will include a generous amount of French baroque organ music, repertoire not heard often enough in recital. Robin’s program will also include works by later French composers like Debussy and Dupré.

When one thinks of baroque organ music, Bach is the first composer who comes to mind. And for good reason. Bach composed an unparalleled amount of brilliant works for the organ.

But the French school also made significant contributions to organ literature with a sound very distinctive from Bach’s.

“French baroque music has its own style,” Robin wrote in an e-mail. “Ornaments in the melody, rich harmonies and much more are really unique from the beginning of the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century.”

Jean-Baptiste Robin is the organist of the Royal Chapel at the Palace of Versailles. Robert Onofrio

While Dietrich Buxtehude and his admirer, Bach, exerted a profound influence on German music, Robin says they were mostly unknown by their French contemporaries.

“On the other hand, the French style had some influence on German composers,” he wrote. “The main influence on the French baroque was from Italy, when France came in touch with Italian music under the violinist Arcangelo Corelli.

Robin, who has been the organist at Versailles since 2010, is steeped in French history, and writes that he is “greatly emotional” when performing there.

“Playing in the royal chapel at the palace in Versailles is always an incredible journey in history,” he wrote. “When you think of the kings of France, the important events in the history of France and Europe, Versailles is a fundamental place in European history. Marie-Antoinette was married in the chapel, hundreds of works were created in this place. And Marchand, Couperin, Daquin, Dandrieu were organists there.”

Village Presbyterian’s Richards, Fowkes & Co. 3,800 pipe organ sounds especially good with baroque music, so the concert should be a superb pairing of instrument and repertoire.

Robin’s program will venture beyond the baroque with works by Chopin and Jehan Alain, as well as a piece he was commissioned to write last year for the Kansas City chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

But I’m most eager to hear Robin’s uniquely French approach to the music of composers closely associated with Versailles, like Dandrieu, Lully and Grigny.

“Couperin said that French music cannot be played by foreigners,” Robin wrote, “because the French don’t have to play what is written on the score.”

7:30 p.m. Sept. 27. Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. Free. For more information about Jean-Baptiste Robin, visit

New Dance Partners

New Dance Partner is an innovative collaboration between the Carlsen Center and local dance companies.

Emily Behrmann, general manager of the Carlsen Center, started the program in 2013 with the center’s commissioning choreographers to create original works, which are then premiered in Yardley Hall.

This year’s New Dance Partners performances will take place Sept. 27 and 28.

The companies taking part are Kansas City Ballet, Owen/Cox Dance Group, Störling Dance Theatre and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company.

Mary Pat Henry, artistic director of Wylliams/Henry, says that New Dance Partners has been a boon for small dance companies like hers, with the Carlsen Center picking up the tab for new choreography and providing a nurturing environment for creativity.

“Emily Behrmann is so open and generous with artists,” Henry said. “She has worked so hard to promote and encourage new audiences for dance.”

This year, Wylliams/Henry will perform a work created for the company by Frank Chaves, the founder and former artistic director of River North Dance Company in Chicago.

“It’s wonderful,” Henry said. “His movement is very fluid and uses many changes in dynamics. The first part is meant to be very emotional but it builds to a very uplifting conclusion. In the slower movement, which is so dramatic, he allows the dancers to bring their own emotional feeling into it, so that it’s very stark and powerful. But that’s all I can tell you because it’s brand new and we’re still working on it.”

8 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28. Yardley Hall, Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd. $14-$42. 913-469-4445 or

Kansas City Chamber Orchestra

Anthony Maglione will take the baton of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, which is usually conducted by Bruce Sorrell, for “Night Reflections” on Sept. 26 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The program will include Haydn’s “Trauer” Symphony, as well as works by the 19th century Russian composer Anton Arensky and the contemporary “sacred minimalist” Arvo Pärt. Maglione will also conduct a relatively new work, “Starburst,” composed by Jessie Montgomery in 2012.

7:30 p.m. Sept. 26. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $12-$35. 816-960-1324


Kantorei, led by Chris Munce, seems to have a special affinity for Renaissance polyphony. The group’s attention to detail as well as its soaring sound bring to mind groups like the Tallis Scholars and Stile Antico. Kantorei will bring its special skills to music of the Spanish Renaissance Sept. 22 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church.

“Music of the Iberian Peninsula” will feature little known but gorgeous Spanish choral music, including the Missa El Ojo by Francisco de Peñalosa, who worked for three years in the papal chapel in Rome but spent most of his career in Seville, where he died in 1528.

3 p.m. Sept. 22. St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 701 E. Meyer Blvd. $10-$20.

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