Classical For Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Explore interviews with local artists, ensembles, and organizations - in a bite-sized format.

From classical clarinet to hip-hop beats, this Overland Park teen is exploring different musical perspectives

Clarinetist Kevin Li
Sam Wisman
Clarinetist Kevin Li

Overland Park teenager Kevin Li has diverse musical tastes including playing his clarinet, listening to hip-hop and making beats. Christy L'Esperance speaks with Kevin about how he got started in music and his transition to a more serious player. We'll also learn how he balances practice time and school work, and finding common ground between classical music and hip-hop.

Kevin Li's first musical interest was the oboe. "It just seemed interesting to play the oboe since it's a funny looking instrument (and a) funny sounding name," he said. For practical reasons he started on clarinet — and it was a match.

"I liked how it sounded (and) the music that we played in middle school."

Like so many kids, the pandemic derailed group music making, but after returning to in-person school, things took off for Li.

"After getting back into it, like, getting the actual high school band experience as well and just playing more clarinet in person competitions and things like that, I just started to do a lot more stuff with music," he reflects.

Even as he grows as a classical musician, Li has other outlets including producing and making hip-hop beats. Even so, he hopes to combine these varied interests one day.

"The the world is changing and you should go explore different aspects of pop culture and different genres," says Li, "which I think is a good thing since it opens your view to a ton of different perspectives."

Hear our full conversation with Kevin Li via the audio player above.

Kansas City native Christy L’Esperance (pronounced “LESS-per-ahns") started listening to classical music on the Snoopy radio she got for her 4th birthday. Today, as Classical KC’s Community Engagement Specialist and On-Air Host, she enjoys classical music through much better speakers. You can reach Christy at She would love to hear about the ways you keep music in your life.
Sam Wisman is a Senior Producer for 91.9 Classical KC and a backup announcer for KCUR 89.3. Email him at
Classical KC serves Kansas City with 24 hours of classical music, day in and day out.
Your donation today keeps classical on the air and online.