The Topeka Symphony Orchestra heralds its 66th year of performances, as well as the final season for conductor and music director Dr. John Strickler, with its upcoming 2011–2012 season. On opening night, "Czech Mates" tasks the professional soundsmiths with transmuting the pages of Dvorak's Symphony no. 6 and Tchaikovsky's violin concerto into an aural spectacle. Ivan Zenaty, an experienced maestro who currently resides in Dresden, leads the concerto's melodic charge and waves his baton with fingers nimble enough to play cat's cradle one-handed. "The 5th!" unfurls an ear-tickling soundscape that includes Beethoven's Symphony no. 5, as well as Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem and Rainbow Body by Theofanidis. White Concert Hall sports more than 1,000 seats, allowing patrons ample room to indulge in the orchestra's acoustic delights or privately conduct their own shadow-puppet rendition of Amadeus.
Most orchestras have 80?100 members, but a true chamber orchestra is smaller. The 10?33 instrumentalists that take the stage at the KCCO's concerts harken back to the small-ensemble, pretzel-stick-baton days of Bach, Mozart, Handel, and Vivaldi. The orchestra pays further tribute to these artists by regularly performing their works in addition to more unconventional programs: they've collaborated with artists as diverse as Paul Mesner Puppets, Owen/Cox Dance, and the Kansas City Chorale. Led by Music Director/Conductor Bruce Sorrell, KCCO is celebrating its 27th season of concerts.
For the late Dr. George Henry Alexander Clowes, the most important things in life were science and the arts. The good doctor wanted to share this devotion with the Indianapolis community, so he devised and funded Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University. Completed in 1963, the hall shares Butler's gorgeous aesthetic with its arching stone fa?ade and lush crimson interior, which has room for over 2,000 patrons. In addition to major touring productions and public speakers, Clowes Memorial Hall is also the home of the Indianapolis Opera, the Butler Ballet, and the Indy 500.
With sonorously soaring aerialists, seamless integration of modern-dance choreography, and harmonious orchestration, Symphonic Quixotic embodies a sensory experience invoking the classical elements of fire, earth, wind, and water. Quixotic Fusion's bombastic performances defy classification as the gravity-defettered dancers twist and fly to the beat of modern mixes before a hypnotizing video composition like so many raver leaves grooving in gusts of trip-hop winds.
The performance begins with Kansas City Symphony Music Director Michael Stern leading the ensemble through Maurice Ravel's 1919 Le Tombeau de Couperin, a four-movement orchestral homage to baroque composer François Couperin. Next, the evocative melody of Samuel Barber's 1947 lyric rhapsody for orchestra and voice, Knoxville: Summer of 1915, fills the air as Ms. Murphy narrates scenes from author James Agee's dreamlike childhood memoir. After a brief intermission for flutes of champagne and handfuls of de-sloppied sloppy joes (also known as Dapper Dans), Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 sneaks into the concert hall with the jingle of two sleigh bells, then erupts into a ghostly scherzo that builds to a solemn march before finally reaching a gentle conclusion with the soprano's bucolic, childlike warbling.
In a city rich in jazz heritage, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra culls some of the finest saxophonists, trumpeters, trombonists, and rhythm players from the local scene to revivify music from jazz's booming big-band era. During the "Tribute to Gerry Mulligan" concert, the orchestra revisits the legendary baritone saxophonist's repertoire, backed up by the musician's longtime rhythm section of bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Ron Vincent. Along with Miles Davis, Mulligan helped fuel the cool-jazz movement, inspiring other players to tone down their tempos, lighten the tones, and wear sunglasses at night. Although his songs marked a sophisticated revolution for the genre, they also contained gritty, soulful elements mimetic of Mulligan's edgy personal life, including a drug arrest that the Guardian named the 20th key event in the history of jazz music, coming in right behind the day Charlie Parker blew a newborn dove out of his saxophone.