Arts & Culture

In Symphony's first rehearsal, new concert hall sounds like ‘dream come true’

If you’re going to have a new beginning, you might as well do it with Beethoven. And more specifically, Beethoven’s First Symphony.

That fundamental and playful romp, ranging from light, dancelike parts to booming crescendos, gave members of the Kansas City Symphony on Wednesday their first chance to hear themselves in the orchestra’s soon-to-be new home, Helzberg Hall.

And hear themselves they did.

"It’s spectacular," said violinist Kristin Velicer during a break in the Symphony’s first rehearsal in the concert hall of the $413 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. "It takes your breath away. It is a dream come true."

The completion of all but the smallest details in the concert hall -- though a void remains where a huge pipe organ will come later -- gave music director Michael Stern and the Symphony musicians the opportunity to begin to tune themselves to their future surroundings.

As the morning rehearsal began, Stern told his players, arrayed before him on the blond wood risers of the stage, about the symbolic moment they were about to launch into. During his tryout to become the Symphony’s music director, he directed a program that his predecessor, Anne Manson, had planned, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 was on it. It has been eight years since then, and Stern and the Symphony musicians have steadily grown together toward this moment of working in a new home.

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