The Friends of Chamber Music is calling its 2018-19 season “Transcendent,” and with a schedule that includes uplifting choral music, peerless piano virtuosos and superlative chamber ensembles, the name is apt.
In October, the superb vocal ensemble Vox Luminis will provide an evening of Bach bliss. The program of motets should sound especially stunning in Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral.
In November, it’s a recital by Víkingur Ólafsson, whom the New York Times has called “Iceland’s Glenn Gould.” The moniker makes sense. Like Gould, Ólafsson is a one of a kind genius, and his recital program, which combines the music of Bach and Philip Glass, reflects his quirky musical tastes.
Stile Antico, a Friends favorite, returns with a special Christmas concert, “A Spanish Nativity.” It should provide a source of spiritual serenity and inspiration in the midst of the holiday maelstrom.
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When two of the world’s finest string quartets come together, you know you’re in for an exciting concert. In January 2019, the Pražák and Zemlinsky quartets will join forces for Mendelssohn’s scintillating Octet for Strings, as well as sextets by Erwin Schulhoff and Antonín Dvořák.
In February, Pianist Jonathan Biss, a Friends of Chamber Music mainstay, will continue his nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas with an evening of Beethoven sonatas. This time he’ll perform sonatas numbers 30 to 32.
Pianist Alexander Melnikov also will devote a recital to a single composer. In March, Melnikov will perform the complete preludes and fugues by Dmitri Shostakovich in one gulp. It’s a virtuosic feat that only a pianist of Melnikov’s caliber could pull off.
Also in March, the Morgenstern Trio, compared by the Washington Post to the venerable Beaux Arts Trio, will perform Schubert’s Piano Trio, Op. 100, which was featured in Stanley Kubrick’s film “Barry Lyndon.” The group also will perform two lesser-known trios.
Atalante, an early music group that made quite a stir on the Friends’ series in 2015, is returning in April with another re-creation of Baroque entertainment. “Tales From the Eternal City” will give a taste of some of the most beautiful sacred music of the 17th century, as it would have been performed in the churches and private chapels of Rome’s elite.
Richard Goode, a long-time favorite of the Friends of Chamber Music, will return for a recital in April. His refined and deeply thought out performances are always concerts to be treasured.
Friends of Chamber Music 2018-19 season
Oct. 12: The Pacifica Quartet (1900 Building, 1900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Mission Woods)
Oct. 18: Vox Luminis (Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W 13th St.)
Nov. 2: Víkingur Ólafsson, piano (Folly Theater, 300 W. 12 St.)
Nov. 7: Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with Avi Avital, mandolin, and Ksenija Sidorova, accordion (Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts)
Dec. 6: Bach Collegium Japan (Folly Theater)
Dec. 18: Stile Antico (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St.)
Jan. 25, 2019: The Pražák and Zemlinsky quartets (Folly Theater)
Feb. 16: Jonathan Biss, piano (Folly Theater)
March 10: Alexander Melnikov, piano (Folly Theater)
March 29: Morgenstern Piano Trio (Folly Theater)
April 5: Atalante (Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral)
April 12: Richard Goode, piano (Folly Theater)
May 10: Transfigured Nights (Folly Theater)
For tickets and more information, 816-561-9999 or chambermusic.org.
Classics Uncorked: ‘Musical Makeovers’
Jason Seber has a lot on his plate as associate conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, but one of his favorite duties is conducting the Symphony’s Classics Uncorked concerts.
“I think it’s one of our best series, honestly,” Seber said. “No matter if you have never been to the symphony or you are one of our diehard fans, it’s enjoyable. They’re only an hour long, they’re a little bit lighter and more informal than a typical classical concert. I enjoy being able to interact with the audience. I set each piece up and try to do it in a casual way, so it’s more of a conversation than a lecture.”
All of the pieces on “Musical Makeovers” are modern reworkings of earlier compositions. For example, Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis takes a theme by Tallis, one of the greatest Elizabethan composers, and turns it into a soaring 20th century classic. Stravinsky’s sunny and tuneful “Pulcinella” is based on music by Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, and Maestro Seber himself is contributing his own transcription of Bach’s “Dorian” toccata.
Stick around after the concert to enjoy a glass of champagne (included in the price of the ticket) and chat with Seber and Symphony musicians.
7 p.m. Thursday, June 7. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $25-$30. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.
Owen/Cox Dance Group
Ludus Tonalis combines the intricate music of Bach and Paul Hindemith with the equally intricate choreography of Jennifer Owen. It’s an Owen/Cox Dance Group classic, and the company is bringing it back for two performances, on June 9 and 10 at White Recital Hall.
Also on the program is new choreography set to Robert Schumann’s Carnaval. Pianist Kairy Koshoeva’s performance of all this dazzling music is worth the price of admission by itself.
8 p.m. Saturday, June 9, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 10. White Recital Hall, $15-$29. 816-235-6222 or owencoxdance.org.
Musica Vocale conducted by Arnold Epley will celebrate its 10th anniversary with Harmoniemusik, works for choir and wind ensemble, June 3 at the Grand Hall at Power & Light. The program includes Stravinsky’s Mass, one of the great modernist choral works.
The concert also will provide a chance to check out one of Kansas City’s newest venues. Located in Kansas City’s most iconic skyscraper, the Grand Hall at Power & Light lets audiences enjoy music in a setting of art deco splendor.
3 p.m. Sunday, June 3. The Grand Hall at Power and Light, 1330 Baltimore Ave. $15-$20. Tickets available at the door or at musicavocale.org.
You can reach Patrick Neas at email@example.com and follow his Facebook page, KC Arts Beat, at facebook.com/kcartsbeat.