Richard Harriman, who founded the Harriman-Jewell Series, had a real knack for bringing to Kansas City superb singers destined to become bona fide opera stars.
The most famous example, of course, being Luciano Pavarotti, who made his international recital debut on the series in 1973. Clark Morris, the current executive director of the Harriman-Jewell Series, has inherited his mentor’s gift for finding amazing young singers on the cusp of superstardom.
Something tells me that soprano Nadine Sierra, who will make her Kansas City debut Oct. 19 at the Folly Theater, is one of those singers.
Sierra, 31, has already made quite a name for herself with opera aficionados. In 2017, she won the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Award, a prestigious award whose previous winners include Renée Fleming and Joyce DiDonato. In 2018, Sierra won the Beverly Sills Artist Award from the Metropolitan Opera, where she has already made several appearances.
Accompanied by pianist Bryan Wagorn, Sierra will perform a program rich with romanticism. She’s chosen arias by French composers Charles Gounod and Marc-Antoine Charpentier and German lieder by Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann and Richard Strauss. She’ll also sing works by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. It promises to be a swoon-worthy evening of song.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 19. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. $31.50-$82. 816-415-5025 or www.hjseries.org.
Te Deum’s ‘Be a Blessing’
Te Deum, the top notch choir conducted by Matthew Christopher Shepard, will present “Be a Blessing” on Oct. 19 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral and Oct. 20 at Village Presbyterian Church.
The central work on the program is Patrick Hawes’ “Beatitudes,” which uses Christ’s Sermon on the Mount as its text. Each beatitude will be interspersed with other choral pieces by contemporary composers like Rosephanye Powell and James MacMillan.
“It’s always a strong desire of mine to create programs that are meaningful and spiritual without only being religious, that are ecumenical and that speak to anyone who comes through the doors,” Shepard said.
Certainly a person of any faith can appreciate sentiments like “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Shepard also has chosen the other works to amplify Jesus’ profound words, such as “What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?” by Melissa Dunphy.
“It takes its text from testimony that was given in Maine by a veteran in response to rights for gay and lesbian people,” Shepard said. “It would be easy to set the words in a way that is over the top and accusatory of the other side, but that’s not what Dunphy does. We pair it with ‘Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness For They Shall Be Satisfied.’ It’s a wholly non-scriptural example of someone thirsting and hungering for righteousness, equality for all.”
Te Deum will be accompanied by pianist Sora Park. Shepard says that his group almost never performs with piano, but that he intentionally chose pieces that “show off the piano and all of its different colors in virtuosic ways.”
“I think this concert will have a wide variety of styles,” he said. “We have gospel, we have African-American spirituals. We also have contemporary classical. But if choral music isn’t your hook, I think you’ll find the texts are thoughtful and meaningful. The texts are going to be the best gateway into the music.”
7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W 13th St. and 3 p.m. Oct. 20 at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village.
Musica Sacra - Mozart and Salieri
According to the film “Amadeus,” the 18th century composer Antonio Salieri was the “patron saint of mediocrities.” But that’s fake news.
More and more recordings of Salieri’s music are being released and audiences are discovering that his works are some of the hidden gems of the classical era.
Musica Sacra conducted by Timothy McDonald will present “Mozart and Salieri” Oct. 13 at Arrupe Hall Auditorium. You can listen to the two composers side by side and give Salieri a fair hearing.
“This concert will afford listeners an opportunity to hear more live music by Salieri than most people hear in a lifetime,” McDonald said. “The picture most of us have of Salieri is that of a trite and trivial composer, but Salieri was highly regarded and his operas were performed all over Europe. He was a great teacher who counted Beethoven and Schubert among his students. Schubert was quite proud to call Salieri his teacher.”
In addition to Mozart’s glorious Mass in C, K. 258, Musica Sacra will perform Salieri’s Sinfonia Veneziana and Hofkapellmeister Messe, which was composed in 1788, the year Salieri was appointed to the Viennese Court Chapel.
Arrive at 6:45 for McDonald’s enlightening live program notes to get the real scoop about Salieri, perhaps the most maligned composer in history.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 13. Arrupe Hall Auditorium, Rockhurst University, 1100 Rockhurst Road. Free. www.rockhurst.edu/center-arts-letters/musica-sacra.
Ensemble Iberica with Nadia Larcher
Guitarist Beau Bledsoe, founder and artistic director of Ensemble Iberica, has always gone to the source to learn the various musical traditions of Latin America. His studies with masters in Mexico and Argentina give Ensemble Iberica performances a well-earned authenticity.
Ensemble Iberica also invites world-renowned artists to take part in their endeavors. Acclaimed Argentine vocalist Nadia Larcher will be making her North American debut when she joins Bledsoe and Ensemble Iberica for an evening of folkloric music Oct. 14 and 15 at MTH Theater, Crown Center.
Larcher, one of the most popular folk singers in Buenos Aires, is known for her blending of traditional and modern styles. To make the evening even more special, violinist Christine Brebes will be making a guest appearance. For years, she and Bledsoe performed together locally as Duo Lorca before Brebes moved to Buenos Aires in 2002. Her local fans will definitely not want to miss one of her rare visits to Kansas City.
7:30 p.m. Oct. 14 and 15. MTH Theater, Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd #30. $25-$30. 816- 221-6987 or www.ensembleiberica.org.
You can reach Patrick Neas at email@example.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.