Classical Music & Dance

The Classical Beat: Handel, Owen/Cox, Randy Newman with KC Symphony, Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’

Arnold Epley will direct Musica Vocale in “European Viewpoints” on Sunday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Arnold Epley will direct Musica Vocale in “European Viewpoints” on Sunday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. From the artist

Arnold Epley, artistic director of Musica Vocale, is always searching for connections and themes in his programming. On Sunday, he will lead Kansas City-based Musica Vocale in “European Viewpoints” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The bright and brilliant baroque music of George Frideric Handel will be juxtaposed with the heavy-hitting German Romanticism of Max Reger and Johannes Brahms.

Countertenor Jay Carter will be featured in Handel’s Te Deum Laudamus. Carter studied voice with Epley at William Jewell College and has gone on to have a remarkable international career. He has a master’s degree in music from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music and has performed with some of the biggest names in early music. Carter is just one of many outstanding musicians who were profoundly influenced by Epley during his years as a vocal teacher at William Jewell College.

6 p.m. Sunday. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St. $10-$15. Tickets at the door. For more information, visit MusicaVocale.org.

“Ludus Tonalis”

Choreographer Jennifer Owen and pianist Kairy Koshoeva obviously have a rapport. Koshoeva’s performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations inspired Owen to create some of her most critically acclaimed choreography.

The Owen/Cox Dance Group will present the duo’s latest collaboration Sunday at White Recital Hall. The program features the world premiere of “Ludus Tonalis,” set to Paul Hindemith’s monumental piano score, and Bach Partita No. 3, with violinist Elizabeth Suh Lane as violin soloist.

Translated as “Play of Tones” or “Tonal Game,” “Ludus Tonalis” is considered Hindemith’s “Well-Tempered Clavier.” The music’s elaborate patterning should lend itself well to Owen’s inventive choreography. Koshoeva will perform Hindemith’s highly contrapuntal score live. Stick around after the performance for a free “artist talk” at 3:45 p.m. Owen is articulate and entertaining when describing her art and creative process.

2 p.m. Sunday. White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry St. $12-$23. 816-235-6222 or OwenCoxDance.org.

Randy Newman

Randy Newman is one of the most prolific film music composers of the past 30 years, having written scores for movies like “Ragtime,” “The Natural” and “Toy Stories I and II.”

He’s also a quirky pop music legend who was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. He hasn’t been ignored by highbrows either. In 2014, he was presented with a PEN New England Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award.

On Wednesday, Newman will bring his combination of mass appeal and braininess to Helzberg Hall when he joins the Kansas City Symphony, conducted by Aram Demirjian. Expect an evening of great film music and Newman’s one-of-a-kind pop hits.

7 p.m. Wednesday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $49-$89. 816-471-0400 or KCSymphony.org.

Shostakovich and Stravinsky

If you tipple at the Symphony’s last free happy hour of the season Thursday night at Helzberg Hall, you might consider getting a White Russian.

It’ll help put you in the mood for music by two of Mother Russia’s greatest composers: Dmitri Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky. Members of the Symphony will perform the String Quartet No. 8 by Shostakovich and the “Soldier’s Tale” suite by Stravinsky immediately following the happy hour.

“Soldier’s Tale” is the story of a man who trades his fiddle to the devil for endless riches. Stravinsky’s quirky score is a workout for a septet of musicians who have to negotiate some diabolical time changes. Shostakovich wrote his String Quartet No. 8 in 1960 and dedicated it to “the victims of fascism and war.”

According to the music critic Erik Smith, when Shostakovich heard the Borodin Quartet perform his quartet for the first time, he was “overwhelmed by this beautiful realization of his most personal feelings, buried his head in his hands and wept. When they had finished playing, the four musicians quietly packed up their instruments and stole out of the room.”

Better make that a couple of White Russians.

Lobby bar opens at 5 p.m., concert at 6 p.m. Thursday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Free. Reserve your tickets at KCSymphony.org.

Heritage Philharmonic

Give ’em hell, Heritage! The Heritage Philharmonic will conclude its 70th season with a free concert Saturday on the steps of the Truman Library. Two special guests will take turns conducting: the orchestra’s conductor laureate, Jack Ergo, and meteorologist and timpanist Bryan Busby. Let’s hope Busby can pull out a good forecast for Saturday, but a rain date is scheduled for June 14.

7 p.m. Saturday. Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, 500 U.S. 24, Independence. Free. HeritagePhilharmonic.org.

“Four Seasons”

The Kansas City Chamber Orchestra will present Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” on Friday at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral with four solo violinists, one performing in each of the four movements.

Music director Bruce Sorrell has lined up an award-winning dream team from Park University’s International Center for Music to do the honors: Cristian Fatu, David Radzynski, Maria Ioudenitch and Laurel Gagnon.

8 p.m. Friday. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $17-$32. 816-960-1324 or KCChamberOrchestra.org.

Patrick Neas is program director for RadioBach.com. To reach him, send email to pneas@jccc.edu.

  Comments