Classical Music & Dance

International Center for Music at Park University to showcase its accomplishments

Award-winning pianist Behzod Abduraimov, artist-in-residence at Park University’s International Center for Music, will be among the performers at the gala concert Wednesday, May 4, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Award-winning pianist Behzod Abduraimov, artist-in-residence at Park University’s International Center for Music, will be among the performers at the gala concert Wednesday, May 4, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Benjamin Ealovega

Picturesque Parkville is becoming known for producing some of the world’s greatest musicians. That’s thanks to the International Center for Music at Park University, founded by Van Cliburn Award-winning pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch.

Piano superstar Behzod Abduraimov is the most famous student of the center, but the school has been turning out many other supremely talented musicians who now have outstanding careers.

Ioudenitch and his world-class team — such as professor of violin Ben Sayevich and professor of cello Daniel Veis — are rightly proud of their school and their students, and they want to make Kansas City more aware of their accomplishments.

To that end, the International Center for Music is presenting a gala concert featuring Ioudenitch, Abduraimov, Sayevich and Veis Wednesday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

“People need to learn more about us,” Ioudenitch said. “It’s so important. So this is our present to the community. And, of course, it’s prestigious and a pleasure to play at the Kauffman Center.”

Abduraimov, winner of the London International Piano Competition and now artist-in-residence at the center, will open the concert with two powerhouse works: Ferruccio Busoni’s piano transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Mussorgsky’s piano miniatures are perhaps best known through Maurice Ravel’s masterful orchestration, but Abduraimov thinks the original solo piano version has its own beauty.

“Of course it’s a masterpiece how Ravel did it for the orchestra, but I can tell you from my experience, talking to the audience after concerts, they really love the piano version, which they haven’t heard much,” Abduraimov said.

Ioudenitch is Abduraimov’s mentor and teacher and provides valuable feedback for the young pianist. He has been guiding Abduraimov through Mussorgsky’s “Pictures,” encouraging him to imagine his own orchestration of the work and then to imitate the instruments on the piano.

“This piece requires a lot of imagination,” Abduraimov said. “It’s all about the imagination. You have to paint those pictures and describe to the listener what’s happening there. It reminds me a lot of pictures from Russian fairy tales and also Russian literature. I feel very close to this piece, and I hope listeners feel that.”

As a nice complement to the Mussorgsky, Ioudenitch, Sayevich and Veis will perform Ravel’s Piano Trio, composed in 1914.

“Ravel had this trio in mind for six years before writing it on paper,” Ioudenitch said. “What he decided eventually to do was to use all the ranges of the instruments in this piece. It’s crazy. I was rehearsing the other day, and the student who was turning pages for me got lost.”

The International Center for Music is small (next year it is estimated to have 26 students), but it is one of the most highly specialized music schools in the country, being totally devoted to training concert hall virtuosos. And Abduraimov isn’t the only student making news.

In 2014, the Israel Philharmonic hired violinist David Radzynski, a student of Sayevich, to be its concertmaster. This November, Abduraimov and Radzynski will perform together with the Israel Philharmonic, and Ioudenitch and a contingent from the center will be attending. Ioudenitch hopes other music-loving Kansas Citians will join them.

“We invite people to come with us first to New York, where Behzod will be playing a big recital in Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall,” Ioudenitch said. “We’re all going, our friends are going, and if a lot of people go with us, we will be very, very happy.”

Founded in 2003, the International Center for Music looks to have a bright future. Ioudenitch says that Park University has recently agreed to a five-year strategic plan that includes adding a wind department and, eventually, a chamber symphony. But the school needs more than the university’s support. Ioudenitch and Sayevich both emphasize that community support is vital.

“We all have a certain confidence that right now is only the beginning,” Sayevich said. “This is only 20 percent of what we can do. It’s very important for us to get the support of the community. We do have support from the community, but we would love to have bigger support because we could do much, much more.

“The only thing we need is to help raise scholarships for our talented kids. More scholarships, so we can bring more gifted kids. We will do the rest.”

▪ 8 p.m. Wednesday. Helzberg Hall at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $40-$75. 816-994-7222 or

For more information about joining the trip to New York and Israel this November, contact Roger Kugler at 816-584-6484 or email him at

Kansas City Ballet: “Rite of Spring”

So far this season, the Kansas City Ballet has presented a stunning succession of three new productions of storybook ballets: “The Three Musketeers,” “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.” But to conclude the season, Devon Carney, the ballet’s artistic director, has decided to go full-blown contemporary.

The main work on the Kansas City Ballet’s spring program is, appropriately enough, “The Rite of Spring.” Adam Hougland has created the choreography and scenario for a “Rite” that is post-apocalyptic, incredibly creative and thrilling to behold. After witnessing a rehearsal, I can assure you this is going to be a visceral, sock-to-the gut “Rite of Spring” that would make the music’s composer, Igor Stravinsky, proud.

There are three other contemporary works on the program: “Petal,” with choreography by Helen Pickett and music by Thomas Newman and Philip Glass; Yuri Possokhov’s “Diving Into the Lilacs”; and the world premiere of “Vesna,” choreographed by Viktor Plotnikov to the music of Antonin Dvorák.

This is a program of courageous works that is a fitting finale to one of the finest Kansas City Ballet seasons in its history. Every performance has been a home run, and Carney and company should be very proud — as should the entire city. The Kansas City Ballet has always been a fine company, but this year it has leaped to another level. Bravo to all.

▪ 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and May 13 and 14, 2 p.m. May 8 and 15. $35-$125. 816-931-2232 or

Kansas City Chorale

April 23 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. The Kansas City Chorale will commemorate the event with “Such a Charm,” a program of songs from Shakespeare’s plays, with dialogue read by actors from the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. “Such a Charm” will be presented Sunday at Asbury United Methodist Church in Prairie Village and Tuesday at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

▪ 2 p.m. Sunday at Asbury United Methodist Church, 5400 W. 75th St., Prairie Village, and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. $10-$30. 816-235-6222 or

Bach Aria Soloists: BAS Spectrum

The Bach Aria Soloists perform much more than the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. BAS Spectrum will allow the ensemble to display its versatility and breadth of repertoire Friday at the 1900 Karbank Building in Mission Woods. There will, of course, be some Bach on the program, but also French chansons, tangos and songs by Guinga, a contemporary Brazilian guitarist and songwriter.

▪ 7:30 p.m. Friday. The 1900 Karbank Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods. $17-$35.

Heritage Philharmonic

The Heritage Philharmonic, conducted by James Murray, will present its annual Young Artists Concert Saturday at Blue Springs High School Performing Arts Center. Co-sponsored by the Kansas City Music Teachers Association, the program will feature winners of the 2016 Young Artists Competition performing concertos with the orchestra.

The concert kicks off with Carl Maria von Weber’s “Oberon” Overture, and then pianist Shwetha Ramachandran will join the orchestra for Frédéric Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante. Saxophonist Jordan Savage will then be the soloist for the delightful, although not often heard, Saxophone Concerto by Alexander Glazunov. Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 “Romantic” will conclude the evening on an American note.

▪ 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Blue Springs High School Performing Arts Center, 2000 N.W. Ashton Drive, Blue Springs. Free. For more information, visit

Shir Ami Ensemble

Shir Ami, Hebrew for “song of our people,” is one of Kansas City’s more unusual musical ensembles. Made up of some of Kansas City’s finest musicians, including Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller, the group is dedicated to performing music from Jewish culture and heritage.

“Jewish Soul: A Musical Journey From Shtetl to Stage,” which the ensemble will perform Monday at Congregation Beth Torah in Overland Park, will explore the rich contributions of Jewish composers through the years. Vocalist and accordionist Katharina Müther will join Shir Ami for music with origins ranging from the Jewish villages and ghettos of Europe to the Broadway stage.

▪ 7 p.m. Monday. Congregation Beth Torah, 6100 W. 127th St., Overland Park. $10-$25.

Augsburg Choir

The Augsburg Choir from Augsburg College in Minneapolis is one of the finest Lutheran choirs in the country. Led by Peter Hendrickson, the group performs a wide variety of sacred repertoire from many eras. The group will pay a visit to Kansas City this week and give a free concert Tuesday at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The program will include works by Pavel Chesnokov, Morten Lauridsen and Leonard Cohen, as well as a selection of African-American spirituals.

▪ 7 p.m. Tuesday. Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1700 Westport Road. Free. For more information, visit

You can reach Patrick Neas at