Performing Arts

UMKC Conservatory’s ‘Hansel and Gretel’ will be ‘real feast for eyes and ears’

Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble, will perform Feb. 23, 2018, at White Recital Hall.
Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble, will perform Feb. 23, 2018, at White Recital Hall.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance is more than just one of the nation’s foremost music schools. It also presents great performances, like its upcoming 2017-18 season.

It all begins on Oct. 4 with a concert by the Conservatory Orchestra conducted by Robert Olson. The program includes Anton Webern’s Passacaglia, Op. 1, Sergei Prokofiev’s triumphant Symphony No. 5 and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ beloved “The Lark Ascending” featuring violinist Benny Kim as soloist.

Oct. 26-29, the conservatory’s excellent opera department will present an inventive new production of “Hänsel and Gretel,” Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera.

“The sets and costumes are made entirely out of paper and are at once awe-inspiring and humble,” said Fenlon Lamb, the conservatory’s director of opera. “It’ll be a real feast for eyes and ears.”

The conservatory will host its annual fundraising event at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 10. Proceeds from “Crescendo: Dawn of a New Stage,” which will showcase some of the conservatory’s finest music and dance, will benefit the school’s scholarship fund.

The conservatory also will present well-known musicians from around the world. For example, Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning all female African-American vocal ensemble, will perform Feb. 23, 2018. The concert, partially sponsored by the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, will help celebrate African-American History Month.

The jazzier side of the Conservatory will be highlighted with a UMKC Jazz Night on April 19 at the Folly Theater. Bobby Watson and Dan Thomas will conduct the conservatory’s various jazz ensembles in a swinging concert of hot jazz.

Dance is also an important part of the conservatory’s mission, and the spring dance program April 26-28 at White Recital Hall will celebrate the athleticism and grace of the school’s dancers.

The season finale on May 1 at Helzberg Hall promises to be an electric affair with Olson conducting the Conservatory Orchestra and Robert Bode leading the conservatory choirs in Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms.” Composed in 1930 to celebrate the Boston Symphony’s 50th anniversary, the “Symphony of Psalms” is Stravinsky at his most exalted and is a fitting way to conclude the season.

Conservatory Artist Series, 2017-18

Oct. 4: Conservatory Orchestra directed by Robert Olson. 7 p.m. Helzberg Hall, Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts

Oct. 26-29: “Hänsel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck, sung in German. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26-28 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 29. White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry St.

Nov. 10: “Crescendo: Dawn of a New Stage,” annual fundraising event for scholarships with music and dance performed by conservatory students and faculty. 7 p.m. Helzberg Hall

Feb. 23, 2018: Sweet Honey in the Rock. 7:30 p.m., White Recital Hall

April 19: UMKC Jazz Night. Conservatory jazz bands directed by Bobby Watson and Dan Thomas. 7:30 p.m. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St.

April 26-28: Spring dance. 7:30 p.m. April 26-27 and 2:30 p.m. April 28. White Recital Hall

May 1: Finale, conservatory orchestra and choirs perform Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms.” 7 p.m. Helzberg Hall

For more information, visit

French Organ Festival

Johann Sebastian Bach and his fellow German composer Dietrich Buxtehude so dominate organ music that the rich legacy of French organ music often gets overlooked. Thankfully, Mario Pearson, principal organist and director of music for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, gives France its due with the annual French Organ Festival.

This year’s festival, which takes place Sunday, Aug. 27, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the cathedral, features a stellar group of organists who will give a grand tour of the French organ repertoire. From elegant rococo music of the Baroque to the glorious orchestral sound of the 19th century, the festival is an opportunity to experience the wide variety of music.

The three-hour extravaganza is free, and you’re welcome to stay for as much or as little as you like. Sandwiches, pastries and beverages will be available at the charming on-site French cafe.

2-5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27. Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St. Free. For more information, visit

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