Classical Music & Dance

KC Symphony to play with ‘once-in-a-generation’ Russian pianist

Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, 25, will join the Kansas City Symphony to perform his own piano concerto the weekend of Nov. 18.
Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov, 25, will join the Kansas City Symphony to perform his own piano concerto the weekend of Nov. 18. Deutsche Grammophon

This fall, I am most looking forward to the weekend of Nov. 18, when the 25-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov will join the Kansas City Symphony to perform his own piano concerto. As Mark Swed, music critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “Everywhere Trifonov goes, the story is pretty much the same with audiences and critics — he’s a sensation.”

When Trifonov was 8, he lost one of his baby teeth while giving a performance as a soloist with a symphony orchestra. Yes, he’s one of those. An amazing child prodigy who has grown into one of the world’s greatest pianists.

He did have a stumble early in his career, winning only third place in the important International Chopin Piano Competition. But he more than made up for it by subsequently winning first place gold medals in the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition and the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Pianist Martha Argerich, who was a judge for the Chopin competition, has become one of Trifonov’s most ardent champions.

“Competitions are tricky things, highlighting more sport than artistry, and even first-prize winners are not always guaranteed a successful artistic path,” Kansas City Symphony music director Michael Stern wrote in an email. “But it is clear that Daniil Trifonov is something very, very special. He is a remarkable artist, a complete and inspired musician, and the kind of pianist that comes around once in a generation, if then.”

Wherever Trifonov performs, critics agree with Stern’s assessment. Writing about the pianist’s Los Angeles recital debut in Disney Hall, Swed observed: “You only needed to hear Trifonov begin his Disney recital playing a few unadorned single notes and making each one a sonic world in itself to know that a special musician is in our midst.”

When Trifonov performed Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” in San Francisco, Joshua Kosman, classical music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, described his playing as “an odd combination of clangorous ferocity and sensitivity.”

In Kansas City, Trifonov will be playing a piano concerto he wrote. It’s a lush and richly textured work that at times sounds as though it could have been written by Trifonov’s idol, Rachmaninoff.

“Not every great pianist can claim the fluency and inspiration to write such music, and I think that is very impressive, and distinguishes him even further,” Stern wrote. “There is a romanticism in it that nods at (Rachmaninoff), yet I think it is an original work, and it’s very exciting to have him with us to play it.”

Nov. 18-20. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-471-0400 or

More highlights

▪ Kansas City Symphony: Mozart’s Requiem

The Smphony has another blockbuster weekend in October when it presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem. As if that masterpiece weren’t enough, the same program features Paul Jacobs firing up Helzberg Hall’s Casavant organ for an organ symphony by Alexandre Guilmant.

Oct. 20-23. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-471-0400 or

▪ Harriman-Jewell Series: Renée Fleming

Renée Fleming is one of those opera stars whose popularity transcends the world of classical music. When she sang the national anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl, America went crazy over it on social media. Having the chance to hear this extraordinary diva in Helzberg Hall is a don’t-miss opportunity.

Oct. 15. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-415-5025 or

▪ Lyric Opera of Kansas City: “Hansel and Gretel”

There’s nothing more disturbing than having a mother who wants you to get lost in the woods. In September, the Lyric Opera of Kansas City will present Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” for the first time in decades. A fantastic carnival setting should make the work even more appealing to children.

Sept. 17, 21, 23 and 25. Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-471-7344 or

▪ Friends of Chamber Music: Sequentia

My inner Medievalist can hardly wait for Sequentia’s November program, “The Monk Sings Pagan: Medieval Songs of Gods, Heroes and Strong Women.” It’s scholarly enough for history nerds, but should appeal even to casual listeners whose only interest in the Middle Ages is “Game of Thrones.”

Nov. 18. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. 816-561-9999 or

▪ Park University’s International Center for Music: Virtuosos of the International Center for Music

Pianists Stanislav Ioudenitch, Behzod Abduraimov and Lolita Lisovskaya-Sayevich, violinists David Radzynski and Ben Sayevich and cellist Daniel Veis — some of the greatest musicians in the world — will give a concert Sept. 7 at Helzberg Hall. Need we say more, except maybe you should get your tickets soon?

Sept. 7. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. 816-994-7222 or

You can reach Patrick Neas at and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat.

Classical music

Midwest Chamber Ensemble, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection,

“Classical Monuments,” Sept. 4

“Ladies’ Night 3.0,” Oct. 9

Schubert Symphony No. 5, Nov. 6

Kansas City Symphony, Kauffman Center,

Pops in the Park, Sept. 5 (Shawnee Mission Park)

“The Music of Led Zeppelin,” Sept. 9

Happy Hour Concert, “Mad About Mod,” Oct. 12

With “Buckets N Boards,” Sept. 18

“David Bowie: A Musical Odyssey,” Sept. 24

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, Sept. 30-Oct. 2

Stern conducts Mozart’s Requiem, Oct. 20-23

Screenland at the Symphony: “The Phantom of the Opera,” Oct. 27

Screenland at the Symphony: “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Nov. 10 and 12

“A Vivid Autumn: Beethoven and Brahms,” Nov. 18-20

Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, Nov. 25-27

Ensemble Iberica,

“Indigeno,” Sept. 16, Musical Theater Heritage

“Cubanissmo,” Oct. 7-8, Lawrence Arts Center and Heim Building

“Roma,” Nov. 21-22, Musical Theater Heritage

Lyric Opera, Kauffman Center,

“Hansel and Gretel,” Sept. 17-25

“The Marriage of Figaro,” Nov. 5-13

Friends of Chamber Music,

Escher String Quartet with guitarst Jason Vieaux, Sept. 23, Folly

Pianist Arnaldo Cohen, Oct. 7, Folly

Danish String Quartet, Oct. 21, Karbank 1900 Building

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Nov. 4, Folly

Sequentia, Nov. 18, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

Harriman-Jewell Series,

Sphinx Virtuosi, Sept. 24, Folly

Soprano Renée Fleming, Oct. 15, Kauffman Center

Tenor Ben Bliss, Oct. 22, Folly

Pianist Denis Matsuev, Oct. 28, Folly

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Choir, Nov. 15, Folly

Park University International Center for Music,

Virtuosos of the International Center for Music, Sept. 7, Kauffman Center

Violinist David Radzynski, Sept. 24, Karbank 1900 Building

Pianist Plamena Mangova, Oct. 8, Karbank 1900 Building

Pianist Behzod Abduraimov, Nov. 3, Karbank 1900 Building

JCCC Performing Arts Series, Yardley Hall,

Wichita Grand Opera, “’La Bohème,” Oct. 15

Art of Time Ensemble, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” Oct. 22

KU Lied Center,

KU Symphony Orchestra with Caroline Goulding and Jung-Ho Park, Sept. 30

Zora Quartet, Oct. 16

KU Wind Ensemble with trumpeter Joey Tartell, Nov. 9

Pianist Charlie Albright, Nov. 13

UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance,

UMKC Fall Opera, Puccini’s “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi,” Oct. 20-23, White Recital Hall

Crescendo 2016, UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Nov. 4, Kauffman Center

Other classical performances

St. Joseph Symphony, “Meet Me at the Movies — The Sequel,” Oct. 1, Missouri Theater.

Spire Chamber Ensemble, “Fauré Requiem,” Oct. 8, St. Michael the Archangel Church; Oct. 9, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Musica Sacra, Oct. 16, Arrupe Hall Auditorium.

Bach Aria Soloists, Lerner Hauskonzert, Oct. 23, home of Leslie Bowles Lerner.

Conservatory Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble, Oct. 26, Folly.

Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, “A Little Dance Music,” Oct. 27, Polsky Theatre.

Kansas City Chorale, “Brahms: Requiem,” Oct. 30, Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, and Nov. 1, Asbury United Methodist Church.

Siberian Virtuosi from Russia, Oct. 30, Liberty Performing Arts Theatre.


Dance in the Park, Sept. 10, Roanoke Park.

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Sept. 23-24, White Recital Hall.

Ailey II, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, Folly.

Jessica Lang Dance, Oct. 1, Kauffman Center.

Kansas City Ballet, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Oct. 7-16, Kauffman Center.

Owen/Cox Dance Group, “Anniversary Moves,” Oct. 27, Polsky Theatre.

Axis Dance Company, Nov. 11, Lied Center.

Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” Nov. 26, Midland.