Last Friday night the Kansas City Symphony awoke from a long winter’s nap to perform Mahler’s massive Symphony no. 6. Dubbed “Tragic” by someone who wasn’t Mahler but endorsed by someone who was, the Sixth is an emotional tour-de-force that provides the ultimate musical test for both conductor and orchestra. Like a kid who eats tuna and listens to Mozart the night before the SATs and like the opposite of an Amy Winehouse toxicology report, conductor Michael Stern and the members of the Symphony passed with flying colors. Continue reading
Last weekend guest conductor Nicholas McGegan ventured outside the world of early music for performances of Haydn and Orff with the Kansas City Symphony. We arrived an hour early under the auspices of soaking in the Saturday night ambience (and finding parking that wouldn’t involve us waiting 45 minutes to wade through a gerontological sea of humanity on the way out) and figured we’d enjoy a cup of coffee and a glass of red wine. Urgent bulletin: they don’t serve red wine. Of any kind. At any point. And the coffee, while possibly delicious, is marred by the use of sketchy-ass creamer that erodes any semblance of good flavor. Kansas City’s Roasterie makes tremendous coffee, so why waste it with cream that would be better served at Waffle House? It’s like playing a Mahler symphony on keytar. Did I mention that I am an elitist prick when it comes to food and drink? And now you know!
A week ago Saturday, fresh from a great but aurally-limited performance of Brahms 4 in Kansas City, Sandy and I hopped in the car and went down I-70 towards St. Louis for a double bill featuring the St. Louis Symphony in Powell Hall followed by Louis CK at the Fox Theatre. On our way, we stopped for lunch in Columbia, MO, home of the University of Missouri, a pretty delicious natural foods restaurant, and the worst coffee in this and presumably any other galaxy. Seriously, I’ve had coffee twice there, at places recommended by people that I otherwise respect, and both times the cups have ended up in the trash after one sip. On the plus side, I bought this shirt, which I’ve had my eye on for years. There was also an inexplicable traffic jam that held us up for an hour or so leaving town, but we made it to St. Louis in one piece, took a nap, and got ready for a long night of awesomeness. Continue reading
“Everything in moderation” is a maxim that I generally try to apply to my own life as often as possible. There are exceptions that I allow for, such as chocolate-covered pretzels, sports, and Oxycontin, but for the most part I find that moderation is indeed a functionally useful life tool. Sometimes, though, life presents a grand opportunity to tell moderation to go fuck itself and bask in the warming glow of too much of a good thing. Last weekend Sandy and I embarked on a two-city musical odyssey between Missouri’s two major cities that was a study in contrasts in a lot of ways except one: there was a shitload of good music to be heard. Continue reading
Juanjo Mena will be succeeding one of my favorite conductors, Gianandrea Noseda, as the Chief Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic beginning with the 2011-2012 season. His was a name I had seen on the internets, but his was not a conductor whose work I had seen or heard. Judging by the exciting performance he led with the Kansas City Symphony this past weekend (and by the fact that he will be conducting the orchestra affiliated with a broadcasting organization based out of a town called Media City UK), it is likely I will hear from him again. Continue reading
While visiting my family in Tacoma, WA this past week, we went with my mother and some of her friends to a concert with the University of Puget Sound Orchestra (one of my mother’s friends is on the faculty there). The program featured the winner of the school’s concerto competition, Daniel Bahr, in a performance of Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 2 and the Symphony no. 40 by Mozart. Christophe Chagnard, he of the Northwest Sinfonietta, was the conductor. Continue reading
The Kansas City Symphony began their final season in the Lyric Theater this Friday with a splashy concert featuring a new composition, a world-renowned guest artist, and some popular 20th century masterpieces. By the way, this is the final season for the Symphony in the Lyric Theater, which will no longer be used for symphonic concerts, opera performances, or the Ludovico technique. The brand new Kauffman Center will open in 2011, with much fanfare. Also, this will be the final season in the Lyric Theater. Continue reading