Performing Arts

Kansas City Symphony Chorus’ requiem will offer a balm for the soul

Charles Bruffy will conduct the Kansas City Symphony Chorus in a free program Sunday, May 20, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Charles Bruffy will conduct the Kansas City Symphony Chorus in a free program Sunday, May 20, at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

There are stormy requiems, like Mozart’s and Verdi’s, that raise the dead with thunder and earthquakes. And then there are requiems that confront mortality with calmness and serenity, like those of French composers Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé. The Kansas City Symphony Chorus conducted by Charles Bruffy will perform Duruflé’s gentle version of the Mass for the Dead on Sunday, May 20, at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Like Fauré, Duruflé took out the scary parts of the traditional requiem text (the “Dies Irae,” or “Day of Wrath”) and instead emphasized those words that bring solace, such as “Pie Jesu” and “In Paradisum.” Although Duruflé’s edited text is untraditional, the music is steeped in the ancient music of the church, Gregorian chant. Almost all the themes in Duruflé’s requiem are taken from the chants of the Gregorian Requiem, giving the work a timeless, mystical quality.

Bruffy has conducted the Duruflé requiem many times in his career and obviously feels a special connection to the work. His sensitivity to its subtle nuances promises a special, not-to-be-missed performance. Also on the program is “This Moment” by Kansas City composer Mark Hayes and “Lux Aeterna” by Morten Lauridsen.

As if all that weren’t enough, the concert is free. But you do need to reserve your tickets by phone or at the Kansas City Symphony’s website.

3 p.m. May 20. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Free but tickets need to be reserved. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

Noah Geller

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Kansas City Symphony concertmaster Noah Geller is heading to Seattle, but maybe not for good. David Bickley

Noah, we hardly knew ye.

Noah Geller, concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony since 2012, will become concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony at the start of the 2018-19 season, the Seattle Symphony has announced. Geller has become a well-respected and esteemed member of Kansas City’s classical music community. He is a stalwart aid to conductor Michael Stern, helping him lead and shape the musicians of the Kansas City Symphony.

Geller has an illustrious background. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the prestigious Juilliard School, he served as member of the first violin section and acting concertmaster for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stern and Frank Byrne, executive director of the Kansas City Symphony, obviously scored when they were able to lure Geller to Kansas City. He will be sorely missed.

Geller will return to perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto on the Kansas City Symphony’s season opener in September. And is Geller really gone for good? On its Facebook page, the Kansas City Symphony refers to Geller’s departure as “a leave of absence.”

Stay tuned, as they say …

Yefim Bronfman

The Friends of Chamber Music will present pianist Yefim Bronfman in recital Friday, May 18, at the Folly Theater. Bronfman will perform music by Robert Schumann, Jörg Widmann, Claude Debussy and Sergei Prokofiev.

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Yefim Bronfman will perform in recital Friday, May 18, at the Folly Theater. File photo

One of the main works on the program is the Piano Sonata No. 7 by Prokofiev. Composed and first performed in 1943 at the height of World War II, it’s an edgy, virtuosic tour de force and a perfect piece to showcase Bronfman’s legendary, titanic power.

In his novel “The Human Stain,” Philip Roth describes a Bronfman performance at Tanglewood:

“Then Bronfman appears. Bronfman the brontosaur! Mr. Fortissimo. Enter Bronfman to play Prokofiev at such a pace and with such bravado as to knock my morbidity clear out of the ring. He is conspicuously massive through the upper torso, a force of nature camouflaged in a sweatshirt, somebody who has strolled into the Music Shed out of a circus where he is the strongman who takes on the piano as a ridiculous challenge to the gargantuan strength he revels in. Yefim Bronfman looks less like the person who is going to play the piano than like the guy who should be moving it.”

7:30 p.m. May 18. Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th. $25-$35. 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.

You can reach Patrick Neas at patrickneas@kcartsbeat.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at www.facebook.com/kcartsbeat.

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