Kansas City Symphony Announces 2011-12 Season

Internationally acclaimed soloists join Music Director Michael Stern and the Symphony to show off the state-of-the-art capabilities of the new Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

An unprecedented collection of distinguished guest artists will join the Symphony and Music Director Michael Stern for the 2011-12 season, performing diverse programs designed to showcase the Symphony as well as their new performance home, Helzberg Hall.  When it opens on September 16, 2011 Helzberg Hall will be one of the most technically and architecturally advanced concert halls in the nation, offering musicians and audiences alike an intimate and powerful listening experience. 360-degree seating – including behind and beside the musicians – will allow the audience to sit close to the performers and to feel as though they are among the orchestra. The Symphony’s classical, pops, and family series concerts will feature repertoire specifically selected to illustrate the dynamic range of the hall’s acoustics and state-of-the-art technical capabilities.  

Music Director Michael Stern said, “Simply put, this is going to be the most exciting season that the Kansas City Symphony has ever presented.  Our entire season is designed to show off our spectacular new home, and to celebrate the people of Kansas City who helped make it happen. Helping us to inaugurate this momentous achievement are some of the greatest artists in the world of music.  The glorious design of Helzberg Hall and its acoustics will change our landscape, and redefine Kansas City as a national center for the performing arts.  But the real glory will be the living performances from our stage that will give breath to this magnificent venue, and that will set a new standard for our audiences.”

In light of the dramatically new seating configuration in Helzberg Hall, the Symphony is extending the timeline for the 2011-12 season ticket renewal process.   Beginning in February, the Symphony Box Office will contact subscribers in a sequence that ensures current subscribers adequate time to select new seats in Helzberg Hall.   Groups of subscribers will be mailed information at intervals February through April and will be offered specific periods to attend a group presentation or schedule a personal meeting with Symphony Box Office Staff.   New subscribers and the general public may purchase subscriptions beginning in early May. For more information, call 816.471.0400, Monday through Friday, 10am to 5pm, or visit the Kansas City Symphony website.


The Symphony’s classical series will feature fourteen programs, each presented in three performances at Helzberg Hall.  Highlights of the season designed to showcase the new hall include Respighi’s The Pines of Rome featuring antiphonal brass musicians strategically placed in the hall; three large-scale choral masterpieces which will make use of the hall’s expansive choir loft, including Brahms’ German Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; and, utlilizing the hall’s brand new, custom-designed Casavant Frères pipe organ, Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3. The Symphony will be joined in the choral works by the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, which is led by Grammy Award-winning director Charles Bruffy. Other audience favorites will include Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter); Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), and Tchaikovsky’s dramatic Sixth Symphony.

“We have three primary goals in our opening season: showcase the orchestra, showcase the magnificent new Helzberg Hall, and thrill the audience,” said Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne.   “We will do this by presenting great masterworks of the repertoire, artfully paired with world premieres and works that have not previously been performed by the Kansas City Symphony.”  Twenty-eight percent of the repertoire on the Symphony’s classical season is a combination of both new and old works that have never been performed by the orchestra. Among the works being presented by the KCS for the first time include world premieres by Chen Yi, Dan Kellogg, and Stephen Hartke; a Kansas City premiere by Jake Heggie, and a collection of works from composers as diverse as J.C. Bach and Haydn to Stravinsky and Messiaen.  “Michael Stern’s innovative programming brings fresh perspectives and insights to our concerts, and in these spectacular acoustics the experience will become even more vivid and exciting,” said Byrne.

World Premieres: KCS Celebrates the City of Fountains

Michael Stern, entering his seventh season as Music Director, will introduce three world premieres, two commissioned by the Kansas City Symphony, and one by local composer Chen Yi, commissioned by the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation in 2009 as part of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance’s “East Meets West” Crescendo Gala.

“As we celebrate our inaugural season in the Kauffman Center, we also celebrate Kansas City and its identity as the ‘City of Fountains. We will present three world premieres in our first season, all inspired by the gorgeous fountains of our city.  Just as Respighi wrote his stunning ‘Fountains of Rome,’ we will present three new works commissioned for our opening season by three American composers: Stephen Hartke, Dan Kellogg, and Kansas City’s own Chen Yi. This will be a season-long salute to our home city and to these living works of art that so inspire Kansas Citians of all ages,” said Stern.

Internationally Acclaimed Soloists

The 2011-12 classical season will feature the most stunning collection of guest artists and conductors who have ever appeared in a single Kansas City Symphony season.   Soloists include the incomparable cellist Yo-Yo Ma, beloved piano virtuosi Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman, superstar violinist Joshua Bell; and Gramophone Artist of the Year, Kansas City’s own mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will show off the nuances and inflections of Helzberg Hall’s impeccable acoustics.

Distinguished Guest Conductors

The Symphony is thrilled to welcome one of the greatest conductors of our time, Christoph von Dohnanyi to the podium in March for his Kansas City debut, featuring music of Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky, two composers with whom he has a special affinity.  Maestro von Dohnanyi was music director of The Cleveland Orchestra for 20 years and is Honorary Conductor for Life of London’s Philharmonic Orchestra.

Also making his first appearance on the Kansas City podium is Carlos Miguel Prieto, music director of the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico (National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico), in a program of Russian masters.    Returning guest conductors include Baroque and Classical music specialist Bernard Labadie, music director of Canada’s Les Violins du Roy; and   Asher Fisch, former music director of the Vienna Volksoper and the Israeli Opera,  who will also make his debut as a pianist leading Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17, K.453 from the keyboard.

KCS Debuts

We celebrate the Kansas City introduction of brilliant young violinist Benjamin Beilman, Bronze Medal winner of the Indianapolis International Violin Competition, whose appearance in Kansas City is made possible by the Almy Legacy Fund – a program which makes it possible each season to feature one of the most promising young talents from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (the alma mater of Music Director Michael Stern).

We also welcome pianist Behzod Abduraimov, 2009 winner of the London International Piano Competition, violinist Tianwa Yang and pianist Arnaldo Cohen.

Pops, Family and Holiday Concerts

Under the baton of Associate Conductor Steven Jarvi, the Symphony’s four concert Pops Series moves from one to two nights, giving audiences the option of attending on Friday or Saturday evenings.    This popular series boasts a range of musical styles from Steve Lippia’s lounge-style classics of the Rat Pack, music from the biggest and best science fiction television and movies in the Sci-Fi Spectacular with special guest George Takei (Mr. Sulu of Star Trek fame), to the big band rocking rhythms of the 1940’s from Big Bad VooDoo Daddy.   The pops series also features the Magical Music of Walt Disney, a tuneful program that has thrilled audiences of all ages throughout the nation.

The Kansas City Symphony’s Family Series introduces children the world’s greatest music through light-hearted, shorter programs including the ever-popular Classical Kids presentation of Tchaikovsky Discovers America, a tale of Russian’s most famous composer’s travels in America; a special family series presentation of the Magical Music of Walt Disney, featuring songs from classic cartoons and movies; and a KCS exclusive performance with Kansas City phenomenon Jim Cosgrove (aka “Mr. Stinky Feet”) in a program with full orchestra.

The holidays would not be complete without Handel’s Messiah, now with three performances to choose from, featuring the Symphony Chorus and the Independence Messiah Choir; and the return of Christmas Festival, Kansas City’s grandest holiday concert of classic Christmas carols and songs of the season.

All KCS series now at the Kauffman Center

In a demonstration of the Symphony’s commitment to the success of the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, all KCS series performances will be presented there starting in the 2011-12 season.

Kansas City Symphony Board of Directors President, Shirley Bush Helzberg, said, “The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will transform what it means to experience the Kansas City Symphony in concert.   Helzberg Hall, the new home of the Symphony, will offer brilliant acoustics and a level of comfort and amenities for the audience that we have only dreamed about.   The innovative design features perfect sound and views of the performers no matter where you sit.  For these reasons and more, the Kansas City Symphony board and administration have decided to present all Symphony performances at the Kauffman Center starting with the 2011-2012 season.  While downtown Kansas City has been the Symphony’s home base for decades, our performances at Yardley Hall and Church of the Resurrection in recent years produced memorable performances and cultivated a dedicated audience.  To each of you we offer a most sincere invitation to join us as we open the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the fall of 2011.  We are confident you will find the experience in the new world-class venue to be unparalleled.  We remain grateful for your love of great music and your ongoing support of the Kansas City Symphony.  We look forward to greeting everyone in our new home.”

Kansas City Symphony 2011-12 Press Release

Kansas City Symphony 2011-12 Season Details

Kansas City Symphony 2011-12 Season Works Not Previously Performed