Conductor’s Corner – 55th Season

Christopher Kelts
Christopher Kelts, music director

Greetings friends of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra! As we ended our concert last April we immediately began working on our 55th Concert Season!

Our 55th season begins with a classic season opener. We will feature three works on this concert. Robert Johns, a native of Kansas and accomplished composer, will have his Concert Overture performed for the first time by the KCCO, making its second debut. We also welcome our guest soloist, Hyerim Jeon on cello, who will perform Lalo’s exciting Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. The evening will be capped off with one of music’s most popular works. I know very few people who don’t enjoy the music of Beethoven – so in the spirit of our love for his music, we will perform his Symphony No. 7, Op. 92 A major. Of course a pre-concert talk will take place at 6:45 p.m. You don’t want to miss this wonderful opening to our new season. October 12, 7:30 p.m., Atonement Lutheran Church.

KCCO has begun giving an annual pops concert. This season we will play themes of your favorite stage works in GIVE MY REGARDS: An Evening of Broadway! To accommodate for the popularity of this concert, and to reach as many of our friends and audience members, KCCO will hold two performances of this concert. Please join us, Friday, November 15 & Saturday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Atonement Lutheran Church. Of course, if you can’t make one of these concerts – the show must go on!

March 8, 7:30 p.m. (Atonement Lutheran Church) is the performance date for our Classic Civic featuring the works of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Weber. We have a soloist-packed evening with Debbi Allen (KCCO Principal Clarinet) and the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola with Yu-Fang Chen and David Kovac. The evening closes with Mendelssohn’s famous Symphony No. 5 “The Reformation.” A pre-concert talk begins at 6:45 p.m.

Our season finale will happen on Saturday, April 26, 7:30 p.m., Atonement Lutheran Church – and before we all know we will close another season of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra! This concert is titled Tragedy to Transfiguration…the program will be deep and moving, for certain. The program will open with Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy. The closing of the program will be Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration – both pieces possess a great deal of emotion and brilliant orchestration. To offer a new sound, the strings and percussion of KCCO will perform Elegy in memory of Maurice Ravel, by David Diamond. A pre-concert talk begins at 6:45 p.m.

…OH I ALMOST FORGOT! Our annual SOUNDS OF THE SEASON will happen in December. You will have two opportunities to see this popular concert on Friday, December 13 and Saturday December 14 at Atonement Lutheran Church. Can you come to both? Of course! We wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to enjoy this fun, meaningful and joyous musical time of year. This year the orchestra will offer a twist on a classic. With guest ensemble, Washburn University Jazz Band, under the direction of Craig Treinen, the KCCO will perform Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite alongside Duke Ellington’s adaptation. A not to miss evening!

As you know, the Kansas City Civic Orchestra continues to give concerts at no charge, and through some generous patrons and grants, we are able to continue to do so. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how important your presence is at our concerts. I hope that your experiences hearing our orchestra is wonderful – and if you are able to give a monetary gift – we appreciate that side of your patronage as well. Our wish is to continue with this mission for many more years to come. (Remember, KCCO is a non-for-profit, so all donations are tax deductible).

Come and hear the Kansas City Civic Orchestra. Stay connected through our Facebook page or our website. I look forward to seeing you, and I know you are looking forward to hearing us in our 55th concert season!

–  Christopher Kelts, Music Director


KCCO’s 52nd Season

It’s 3:22 a.m., and it is pretty typical that I am awake at this hour working or trying to find something to do to fall back asleep. Tonight I have decided to use this time to write a blog entry talking about the Kansas City Civic Orchestra’s upcoming 52nd season. We have an excitng season planned with great guest soloists, and of course, wonderful repertoire.

Our first concert in October will feature soloist Ruslan Biryukov, whom you may remember was with us last year performing the Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky. Well, he has returned and will be performing a work that is not performed as often, but is still a staple in the cello repertoire: Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertate for Cello and Orchestra. This piece will open the season and accompany two other famous Russian composers; Borodin and Stravinsky. Since the concert is entitled “Nostrovia! A Celebration of Russian Music” the Civic Orchestra will also perform Symphony No. 2 by Borodin and Stravinsky’s wonderful Berceause and Finale from his Firebird Suite (1919). As a side note, did you know Nostrovia is Russian for “cheers”? It might not be appropriate to bring your favorite vodka to the concert – so bring your other spirit for hearing great music and join us. Please remember to stay up to speed on our website for concert dates and times.

In November we will perform Schubert’s famous Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”. I will dive into more detail during my pre-concert talk for this concert…trying to answer questions like “Is there another reason it was entitled Unfinished, besides the obvious?” and “Why wasn’t Schubert as popular as Beethoven?” Information on this pre-concert talk can be found on our website. This concert is pretty interesting in the fact that the first half features a much smaller version of the Civic Orchestra. We will open the concert with Rameau’s Les Indes Galante Suite. If you have not seen this baroque opera, I encourage you to get to your Netflix or accounts and find this work – particularly performed under the music direction of William Christie. We have two soloists for this concert: Sophia Tegart, piccolo, and James Keel Williams, bassoon. Both will be performing concerti by Vivaldi…and I don’t know about you…but Vivaldi is one of my favorite composers. Seems his ability to write both dramatic and fun music contains a great balance that is sure to please.

The first half our season ends in December with our annual Sounds of the Season.  The Civic Orchestra is sure to make your preparations for the upcoming holiday season a festive one. This year we have a few tricks up our sleeve for your listening pleasure…but I can’t reveal them.  Rest assured that when you attend this concert, you will walk out whistling your favorite tune. This is always a wonderful concert for us to give to you. Though it is usually cold outside, inside it is warm and happy. So come and hear us for some of your favorite Christmas and other holiday favorites. Get there early – this concert is always packed to the rooftops!

Well, I’m nearing the end of this post, and it is almost 4 a.m. Certainly the time has flown by. Rest assured I will post another entry talking about the second half of our season…oh yes…we have more. Mahler anyone? …it is a 100 anniversary year for this composer. We have Beethoven, Wagner, Mendelssohn and some Copland. We still have Jessica Goldring, our Mezzo-Soprano, and Yu-Fang Chen, our violinist, to introduce you to. So stay connected with us on the website…

I look forward to seeing you and you hearing us at the next concert!

52nd Season full concert schedule

Post-Concert and Beginning Anew

October 2009

Good morning…well, after a weekend of wonderful music, the Civic Orchestra is back at it.

A few thoughts about the opening season concert: As you know, we had Ruslan Biryukov with us. His performance encompassed wonderful musicality, displayed versatile technique while giving the Rococo Variations a fresh sound…truly in command of the cello. The orchestra followed great – every twist and turn, and made great music. The Brahms speaks for itself. Such a great work – who doesn’t love Brahms?! Seriously, I don’t think I have ever heard any Brahms that I didn’t enjoy. We had a large turnout…our listeners always come out and show their support.

Thank you to Atonement Lutheran Church for hosting our opening concert.

Now on to a new concert cycle.

The Civic Orchestra begins their new rehearsal cycle this week with Faure’s Pelleas et Mellisande Suite and Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 “London.”

Keep checking back for more blog updates!

A New Season Begins!

September, 2009

Good afternoon friends,

Christopher Kelts, conductor

This is my first blog entry to the newly revamped Kansas City Civic Orchestra (KCCO) Web site.  I hope that you will take some time to look around at the historical photos, our new short video documentary, and of course our 51st season schedule!  It looks to be another great year for music in the greater Kansas City area.

Our opening season concert will take place this October 24.  It is a very exciting concert as it features all three of my most favorite composers: Wagner, Tchaikovsky, and of course, Brahms.  I love to program seasons.  Of course a conductor looks at budget, personnel, venue, etc., but picking a program is a lot of fun and gets me looking at repertoire from all genres, sizes, “popular” and less frequently performed works.

The Wagner, Die Meistersinger Prelude, I chose due to its massive use of the orchestra.  It’s been a long summer, and I wanted to use the most players as possible to let our listeners see and hear how wonderful the size of the KCCO has grown.

Symphony No. 2 by Brahms is probably one of the most popular of his four symphonic works.  Aside from it being just long enough in duration to program other works of substantial size, to a wonderful key of D major – Brahms really shows off his lyrical and beautiful writing in his second symphony.  Plain and simple – it’s a wonderful work – beautiful sounds mixed with a triumphant finale movement.

Our featured soloist for this concert is a wonderful cellist, Ruslan Biryukov.  He will be performing Tchaikovsky’s charming Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra.  This work is comprised as a theme and variation form.  It is quite easy to follow musically, and the cello technique is demonstrated with a sort of “Russian/Viennese Class.”  Without a doubt you WILL enjoy Mr. Biryukov’s playing.  I encourage you to bring your cellist friends to hear his performance.

THE INTERNET:  What do I mean?  All of the pieces listed above can be observed visually and audibly from a wonderful site called – I am not ashamed to say that I am completely addicted to this site.  You can observe some of music’s most wonderful performances as well as other postings from all other musical organizations.  I urge you to give a listen.

Well, I must be off.  The KCCO has a lot of rehearsing to do.  I look forward to writing many more blog entries, and look forward to seeing you all at our concerts.  Stay up to speed on our Web site – and always it is great pleasure for me and the members of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra to bring you our music.