Classical Music & Dance

San Francisco Orchestra will play Ravel, Adams, Prokofiev

The Friends of Chamber Music presents a return engagement of the Galileo Project with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Sunday at the Folly Theater.
The Friends of Chamber Music presents a return engagement of the Galileo Project with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra Sunday at the Folly Theater.

Talk about your San Francisco giants.

The Harriman-Jewell Series will present the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, one of the world’s great orchestras, Wednesday night at Helzberg Hall. Music director Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct works by Samuel Adams and Maurice Ravel, and another heavy hitter, violinist Gil Shaham, will join the orchestra for Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.

Thomas has chosen a program that will show off his orchestra splendidly. And Helzberg Hall’s acoustics will provide a home-field advantage for the visiting team.

Throughout his career, Thomas has been known as a champion of American classical music, so it’s fitting that he’s starting off the concert with Adams’ “Drift and Providence.” Adams, the son of composer John Adams, is a jazz bassist who has also studied composition and electroacoustics at Stanford University. “Drift and Providence” is scored for four percussionists and electronics and should be an intriguing start to the evening.

Shaham is a Kansas City favorite, having previously appeared five times on the Harriman-Jewell Series. In the past few years, Shaham has been focusing on violin concertos of the early 20th century, of which the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 is a grand example. Written for the French violinist Robert Soetens, the concerto was first performed in Madrid in 1935. Prokofiev paid tribute to Spain in the final movement by adding castanets to the score.

The second half of the program will be devoted to the complete ballet “Daphnis and Chloe.” Ravel, of course, was one of the great orchestrators, but he even outdid himself with “Daphnis and Chloe.” The work, commissioned by Serge Diaghilev for his Ballets Russes, is a love story set in ancient Greece about the goatherder Daphnis and his shepherdess, Chloe. Ravel said that with the ballet he wanted to create “the Greece of my dreams.”

7 p.m. Wednesday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-415-5025 or www.hjseries.org.

Friends of Chamber Music: Galileo Project

Science meets art once again when the Friends of Chamber Music presents a return engagement of the Galileo Project with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

When the Friends presented the Galileo Project in 2010, the response was overwhelming. People were being turned away at the doors. So for those who weren’t able to make it last time and those who were so blown away that they’d like to experience it once again, you have a chance Sunday afternoon at the Folly Theater.

The Galileo Project is a multidisciplinary, multimedia production. It incorporates music from the Renaissance and the Baroque eras performed by Tafelmusic along with narration which tells the history of the telescope. It’s all accompanied by stunning images of historical documents and photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

This is a concert where you will definitely want to attend the pre-concert lecture. William Ashworth, an associate professor in the history department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and consultant on the history of science for Linda Hall Library, will give a 1 p.m. talk on “Galileo, Kepler and the Harmony of the Spheres.”

Ashworth presides over the world famous rare books collection at Linda Hall Library and is himself a rare treasure. His knowledge of the history of science and his ability to communicate it is breathtaking. As part of his lecture, he will show slides of some of the unbelievably rare books in the Linda Hall collection, including first editions of works by Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo.

During intermission, visit the Shareholder’s Room to tour “Visions of the Spheres,” and exhibit of images from original Renaissance documents curated by Bruce Bradley, Linda Hall Library of Engineering and Science.

Ashworth’s lecture and the exhibit are included in the price of admission.

2 p.m. Sunday. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. $35-$45. 816-561-9999 or www.chambermusic.org

Park University

Often when we think of postwar Russian composers, unsmiling intellectuals like Sofia Gubaidulina and Alfred Schnittke come to mind. But the 59-year-old Leonid Desyatnikov is a new breed of Russian composer.

Desyatnikov can write serious music with the best of them, but he often indulges in a postmodern puckishness and tongue-in-cheek irony that charms audiences. According to Desyatnikov, his favorite musical form is the “tragically naughty bagatelle.”

Although he’s collaborated with violinist Gidon Kremer on concerts and recordings, Desyatnikov’s music is not that well-known in the West, so it’s a real treat that Park University’s International Center for Music is presenting a concert devoted to his music Friday night at Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel.

Park’s star-studded faculty, including Stanislav Ioudenitch, will perform, and they’ll be joined by Russian pianist Alexey Goribol. Desyatnikov himself will be attending the concert, and you can meet him for a question and answer session before the concert at 6:45 p.m.

7:30 p.m. Friday. Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel, Park University Campus, 8700 N.W. River Park Drive, Parkville. $5-$20. www.park.edu/icm.

Te Deum Chamber Choir

The hectic holiday season is almost here, and before things get too crazy, the Te Deum Chamber Choir conducted by Matthew Christopher Shepard would like to give you the opportunity to take a deep breath and … rest.

“Rest” is the name of a program the group will be performing three different times in three different venus beginning this afternoon at Village Presbyterian Church. Shepard, a real connoisseur of choral music, has chosen little-heard gems that will put you in a relaxed yet energized state. On the program is music by a wide variety of composers, including Edward Elgar, John Tavener and Krzysztof Penderecki.

An especially poignant selection is “Hymn to the Eternal Flame” by Stephen Paulus. A beloved and highly respected choral composer, Paulus recently suffered a stroke and passed away on Oct. 19.

3 p.m. Sunday at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village, 7:30 p.m. Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 New Hampshire, Lawrence, and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1307 Holmes St. Suggested donation of $10. www.te-deum.org.

Tivoli Cinemas: Lucrezia Borgia

Hundreds of years before cable television, the antics of the Borgia family were fodder for entertainment.

For example, the opera “Lucrezia Borgia” by Gaetano Donizetti, first performed in 1833. Based on Victor Hugo’s play “Lucrèce Borgia,” the opera has all the adultery, murder and mayhem you’d expect, but sung to Donizetti’s exquisite melodies.

You have two chances to see the San Francisco Opera’s “Lucrezia Borgia” starring Renée Fleming at the Tivoli Cinemas in Westport this week.

Filmed in 2011, this production by all accounts was a stunner. The New York Times said that Fleming sang the title role “with raw intensity and earthy richness, utterly inhabiting the character.”

This isn’t one of the more frequently performed operas. It’s just too darn expensive to mount. So take advantage of this rare opportunity to see this bel canto classic.

1 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday. Tivoli Cinemas in Westport, 4050 Pennsylvania. $10-$15. 816-561-5222 or www.tivolikc.com.

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

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