Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony have long been champions of American music, and their 2018-19 season, with an American piece on almost every program, is a veritable celebration of native composers.
But Stern, being the master programmer that he is, has also selected an abundance of music from all nationalities and eras to satisfy conservative tastes. And there are just the right number of new works to tantalize the adventurous.
“We always try to do interesting stuff,” Stern said. “We’re an American orchestra and an American city, and we have a great swath of music by a wide range of American composers. But it doesn’t feel like overloading because everything is integrated into the season.”
There are 35 composers represented in 14 concerts, and of those, 13 works are getting their first-ever Kansas City Symphony performance. There are interesting pieces by Americans across the spectrum, from the tried-and-true like Samuel Barber and Aaron Copland to Augusta Read Thomas and Sarah Kirkland Snider. There’s also a work by a local jazz guitarist that should please his many fans.
“Pat Metheny is represented in a very interesting piece for percussion and orchestra,” Stern said. “Christopher Deviney, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal percussionist, and Chris McLaurin, our principal percussionist, are the soloists.”
With Stern’s wealth of connections in the music world, he’s able to bring a top-notch roster of guest musicians and conductors to add sizzle to the Symphony. Next season, guest conductors include Andrey Boreyko, Ryan McAdams and returning audience favorite Bernard Labadie. The renowned Edo de Waart will conduct what promises to be a standout concert of music by Rossini and Mendelssohn and Barber’s Piano Concerto with Alessio Bax as soloist.
Several other great pianists will make appearances as well. George Li is returning, after his debut with the Symphony last year. Also, Benjamin Grosvenor, Alon Goldstein and keyboard titan Yefim Bronfman, who will perform Liszt’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2.
“And then we have great fiddle players,” Stern said. “Stefan Jackiw is coming and Maria Ioudenitch, a local girl made good.”
Ioudenitch is the daughter of Stanislav Ioudenitch, Van Cliburn International Competition gold medalist and founder of Park University’s International Center for Music. Her mother, Tatiana, is a fabulous pianist in her own right.
“Both her parents are wonderful musicians,”…