Performing Arts

KC Symphony unveils new seasons for Classics Uncorked, happy hour series

The Classics Uncorked concerts are led by associate conductor Jason Seber.
The Classics Uncorked concerts are led by associate conductor Jason Seber.

In addition to its Classical Series concerts led by Michael Stern and various guest conductors, the Kansas City Symphony’s Classics Uncorked and free happy hour concerts are some of the orchestra’s most popular offerings. The Symphony has recently announced the new season for both series, and it’s worth noting which ones pique your interest because tickets for both series go fast.

Also returning next season is Sounds Relaxing, a newer series that has struck a chord in these tense times. Certified Relax and Renew trainer Anita Bailey leads the audience on a guided meditation while the Symphony plays works that are gentle and relaxing.

Classics Uncorked concerts are led by associate conductor Jason Seber and are as light and refreshing as the glass of Champagne included with every ticket.

Bach, Bluegrass and Bourbon on Nov. 8 will have the Symphony pickin’ and grinnin’ with traditional bluegrass music and Bach’s sprightly Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, which does have a certain folk-like toe-tapping quality. In addition to the regular post-concert glass of wine or Champagne, you can sample a special selection of bourbons.

Grammy Greats on Jan. 17 will feature lush orchestral arrangements of winning songs like Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” There also will be classical works by Aaron Copland and Joan Tower, and the Symphony’s principal violist, Christine Grossman, will be featured in Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto.

Elgar’s Enigma Variations is the main work on Secrets Revealed June 13. The Symphony promises to shed light on Elgar’s puzzle-like set of variations, which depict many of the composer’s friends. On the same program is Anna Clyne’s “Masquerade,” which evokes an 18th century London promenade concert, complete with street entertainers.

The free happy hour concerts are a chance for the Symphony’s musicians to shine in smaller, intimate works. Sean Chen, winner of the 2013 American Pianist Awards and Van Cliburn finalist, will be featured in Piano Pizzazz Sept. 11. Stars of the Strings on Oct. 16 will show off the Symphony’s string players in music by Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Beethoven’s “Grosse Fuge” (“Great Fugue”) and works by contemporary composers George Walker and Andy Akiho.

I Love You Verdi Much on Feb. 12 will offer a rare opportunity to hear Verdi’s String Quartet and experience the grand opera composer’s more intimate side. Also on that program are Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s String Sextet. Soak up the Baroque on March 5 will provide the perfect happy hour music by Johann Sebastian Bach and one of his many talented sons, Johann Christian.

Radiant Ravel says it all. Ravel’s shimmering String Quartet will be the featured work on the April 2 concert. It will be contrasted with the minimalist Mallet Quartet by American composer Steve Reich. Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango” is one of many works to make you want to move your body on I Could’ve Danced All Night on April 30.

Personally, I’m delighted to see what is planned for the final happy hour concert of the season on May 28. Jan Kraybill’s Organ Extravaganza will unleash the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ in Helzberg Hall. No one knows this particular organ better than its curator, Kraybill. It seems this magnificent instrument has lain dormant for far too long. Here’s hoping there will be a good turn out, which might encourage more concerts on the Casavant. It’s too glorious of an instrument to let it languish.

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

Classics Uncorked

  • Nov. 8: Bach, Bluegrass and Bourbon
  • Jan. 17, 2019: Grammy Greats
  • June 13: Secrets Revealed — Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Anna Clyne’s Masquerade

Free Happy Hour Concerts

  • Sept. 11: Piano Pizzazz
  • Oct. 16: Stars of the Strings
  • Feb. 12, 2019: I Love You Verdi Much
  • March 5: Soak Up the Baroque
  • April 2: Radiant Ravel
  • April 30: I Could’ve Danced All Night
  • May 28: Jan Kraybill’s Organ Extravaganza

Sounds Relaxing

  • Oct. 13: Recharge
  • Jan. 1, 2019: Rejuvenate
  • Feb. 19: Refresh
  • June 5: Renew

All performances at Helzberg Hall. Tickets for Classics Uncorked are $25 and include a glass of wine or Champagne, Sounds Relaxing are $15 and happy hour concerts are free. 816-471-044 or kcsymphony.org.

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