KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Symphony is celebrating its second season in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts this weekend by opening its Pops Series with a night of ballroom dancing.
Over the summer, the Symphony received national recognition as the only classical music organization chosen to be featured on the PBS Summer Arts Festival.
“We're incredibly excited to start this new year and I could not imagine a more exciting and vital time to be a musician in Kansas City,” Music Director Michael Stern said.
In his eight seasons with the Kansas City Symphony, Stern has seen tremendous growth, something he didn’t know to expect when he first moved to Kansas City.
“When I came here, I didn't quite know what to expect,” said Stern. “Kansas City was, in my mind, an outlier. The community that I found here and energy that I found here is almost unmatched with any other place I've been to in the United States.”
Stern’s love for music comes from being surrounded by music as a child. His father was renowned violinist, Isaac Stern, although the younger Stern said having a professional musician as a parent isn’t why he fell in love with music.
“The real reason is we had music around all the time and so it became as natural as breathing,” Stern said.
It’s a luxury Stern believes every family can afford and needs to embrace.
“Especially in 2012 with technology the way it is, you don't need a professional musician as a parent to make musical information accessible to all kids,” Stern said. “The more they have in them, the more it becomes second nature and that makes better people. It makes better kids and better students.”
For the musicians in the Kansas City Symphony, Stern’s love for and knowledge of music challenges them and helps lead them to success.
“He has a wonderful vision of how he wants the whole orchestra to sound together, as well as the individual sections,” said principal bassoonist Ann Bilderback. “I think he has a fabulous concept of the string sound and the woodwinds and brass and how we all fit together.”
Concertmaster Noah Geller is beginning his first season with the Kansas City Symphony. Like Stern, Geller did not know what to expect from Kansas City when he decided to join the Symphony.
“My first impression, before I had ever been here, was this would be a wasteland,” Geller said. “Then, I was pleasantly surprised and found it be a wonderful haven for the arts.”
Geller said he and Stern have a wonderful working relationship and they communicate well through music.
“I think that there are no limits with this orchestra right now,” Geller said. “I think it's really on the rise at a time when unfortunately, other symphonies are struggling, this city is booming artistically. Therefore, I think Michael has endless potential with this orchestra.”
As meticulous as he is with every note the orchestra produces, Stern believes his role is much bigger than music director or conductor.
“I should stand up, as I am so proud to do, as a loyal Kansas Citian and say, ‘This is where we live and this is what we're about and let's go and do this together. Let's invent new ways to make music matter, let's invent new ways for the orchestra to penetrate into the community,’” Stern said.
For its second season at Helzberg Hall, the Kansas City Symphony is launching three new series, for the very purpose of making the music more accessible to people.
On select Thursdays during the season, the Symphony will offer “Classics Uncorked.” These are shorter, more casual programs without intermissions that start at 7 p.m. and feature champagne or wine after the performance. Tickets are $25.
On four Wednesdays, the grand Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant Organ in Helzberg Hall will take center stage with the “Symphony Organ Concert Series.” Tickets for these performances are $25 and $35. These recitals will feature some of the most talented organists from around the country.
Finally, the Symphony is also offering a “Happy Hour Chamber Music Series” that begin at 6 p.m. on some Wednesdays during the season. These are 45 minute performances featuring small groups of Symphony musicians. While these concerts are free, tickets are required and available online.
For more information, or to get tickets for any upcoming Symphony performances, visit www.kcsymphony.org .
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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