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classical music

Segment 1: The average age of the U.S. farmer is 60. Who will step up to feed America?

A recent documentary looks at the challenges the next generation of farmers in America are experiencing.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Three Kansas City Symphony musicians recently performed their final concerts with an arts organization they've been with since its inception. 

Principal tuba player Steve Seward, bassoonist Marita Abner and oboe and English horn player Ken Lawrence retired after the Symphony's season ended last weekend. All three were hired by the Symphony in 1982, when the orchestra was founded by R. Crosby Kemper, Jr.

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Segment 1: Proposed 3/8th-cent sales tax could expand early childhood education.

In an effort to provide quality education to more of Kansas City's youth, Mayor Sly James has proposed a new sales tax that would fund pre-K schools. While almost everyone can agree access to pre-K education should be expanded, some residents have reservations about where the money to pay for it comes from and how it's collected.

Kansas City Civic Orchestra

When the Kansas City Civic Orchestra decided to call its first performance in Helzberg Hall – Kansas City’s premiere concert hall – its "Surround Sound" concert, they didn’t realize they would end up literally surrounded.

In keeping with Civic's 59-year mission, the tickets were free. But even so, the organization had not anticipated the fervor that ensued.

Tickets for the May 11 performance went live April 3 and sold out within a week. (The last person to sell out the hall was internationally renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.)

Elizabeth Stehling / Kansas City Ballet

When the Kansas City Ballet performs George Balanchine's “Diamonds” for its 60th Anniversary Dance Festival next weekend, Elysa Hotchkiss will be in one of 17 couples on stage.  

"You feel a lot of breath and a lot of movement, and see the stage moving as a whole in this ballet because there’s so many of us on stage moving as one," she recently said of Balanchine's choreography.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Once a month, a recording studio in the basement of the Lawrence, Kansas, public library opens for a jam session.

There are no guitars or drum sets, though.

The players make music with motion-detecting computers that allow anyone – regardless of physical or developmental ability – to become composers.

The jams are an opportunity for creativity and healing, organizers say.

Te Deum

Kansas City choral conductor Matthew Shepard has wanted to perform “Seven Last Words from the Cross” for more than a decade.

A modern choral masterwork, it tackles the Bible's dramatic story of the reflective moments leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.

Shepard was attracted to Scottish composer James MacMillan’s strong, clear use of musical metaphor, which adds a cinematic element to the sacred work. Words are whispered, strained, proclaimed, set against gnarly chords and frenzied, fidgety strings.

Dan Rest / Lyric Opera of Kansas City

Carmen, Mimi, Norma, Tosca, Violetta, Cio-Cio-San, Medea, Liù, Aida, Lulu: Being an opera heroine is harrowing work.

For hundreds of years, opera's women have suffered: on stage from dishonor, ruination, madness and death; off stage from harassment, abuse, degradation, threats, and coercion.

Park University

Laurel Gagnon, a graduate student at Park University's International Center for Music, placed fourth at the Singapore International Violin Competition earlier this month. This distinction comes with a cash prize and a loan of a rare violin. 

Only 34 musicians, and just five from the United States, were invited to perform in the competition, which is open to violinists under the age of 30. And only six musicians advanced to the finals of the contest, which ran from Jan. 28 through Feb. 8. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

For 25 years, Kansas City’s newEar contemporary chamber music ensemble has been performing brand new music — some of it by composers who live here — in what has become a long and productive conversation between area musicians and composers. 

courtesy: Reference Recordings

The nominees for the 60th annual Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and the Kansas City Symphony performs on a record nominated in two categories.

The recording is Adam Schoenberg: American Symphony; Finding Rothko; Picture Studies, and it features the Kansas City Symphony conducted by music director Michael Stern

Keith Stanfield

Oct 20, 2017
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He started playing the violin at age 3, then he taught himself how to play soccer at 12. Meet local violinist Keith Stanfield, who not only went to music school, but he also played soccer for Western Samoa's World Cup team.

Guest:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The executive director of the Kansas City Symphony is a busy man, but Frank Byrne has carved out some time for Up To Date. Today, he leads us through a Shostakovich symphony he's been listening to a lot lately. Then, we learn about the reporting, the writing, and the living Ernest Hemingway did in Kansas City during his 18th year of life.

Courtesy Mary Anne Andrei

Author Ted Genoways is coming to town this Saturday for a reading from his book, The Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm. Why he advocates for more stories of ordinary Midwesterners.

Plus, there are no women composers in the Kansas City Symphony's classical composer series. Why is there a gender gap in classical music? 

Guests:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Kansas-based singer Vanessa Thomas, who tours the country sharing a bill with Grammy Award-winning tumpeter Doc Severinson, doesn't know why she's wearing a cast in her baby pictures.

"It was a foot cast that went all the way up above my knee," she says.

The rest is lost in what she calls a no-man's land of forgotten memories. A story she knows is hers, but almost can't believe is true, except that paper files full of documentation insist that it is.

Vanessa Thomas

Sep 22, 2017
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

Vanessa Thomas is a singer who is living her dream life in Lawrence. She's a vocal coach, a church music director and a mom of four. Oh, and she also tours the country to perform with the legendary Doc Severinsen. Hear her story: how she overcame the trauma of abuse through music, and how her hometown of Clay Center, Kansas, played a big part in connecting her to the world.

Guest:

Jeremy Enlow / Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has been described as the Olympics for pianists. It's a grueling process to even make the cut. 

This year, nearly 300 pianists applied, 146 were selected for live screening auditions, and 30 were invited to Fort Worth, Texas, in May. And then the competition gets underway: 17 days, with four elimination rounds, and millions of people watching around the world