UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance | KCUR

UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance

Segment 1: Will new leadership mean a new chapter for the American Jazz Museum?

The American Jazz Museum just welcomed a new executive director, and she's already in the thick of it. She discussed the current state of the struggling museum and where she sees it going under her direction.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Saxophonist Bobby Watson has loved teaching at the University of Missouri-Kansas City conservatory, but he is ready to concentrate on the touring and recording that have made him an international jazz legend.

“It’s been a great 20-year chapter,” Watson says of his two decades as the first endowed jazz studies professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. “I think life is divided like chapters, so I’m ready to fly again.”

Drone photo by Don Ipock / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If there was a soundtrack for the sculptures on the lawn at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, what would it be like?

Christina Butera thought about that a lot while writing her dissertation in composition at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

Luminaries such as Langston Hughes, John Singer Sargent and Frank Lloyd Wright have all been members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In May, when the Academy inducts 11 new members, one of them will be from Kansas City: Chen Yi, professor of Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Daniel Hogans

Kansas City pianist Eddie Moore describes his music like this: "rolling down a hill on a bike with no brakes. You just have to weave through everything that gets in your way or jump over it."

Originally from Houston, he thought he might need to move to a coastal city to make a life in music work. But that changed after he auditioned at the University of Missouri Conservatory of Music and Dance for a graduate degree in music. 

UMKC Conservatory

American composer Harry Partch lived an unconventional life. A dreamer and a traveler, he devised an original system for making music and built dozens of instruments to bring that dream to reality.

“My music and my instruments are an expression of an ancient tradition in which sight and sound unite toward the achievement of a single dramatic purpose,” Partch said in the documentary “Music Studio.”

Centric Projects/Kansas City Repertory Theatre

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has selected a site for a new facility for the school's long-anticipated Conservatory of Music and Dance — right next door to its current location.

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal made the announcement late Thursday afternoon in an email to faculty, staff and students.

"The new home is now planned for a site immediately adjacent to the existing Olson Performing Arts Center and will face Volker Boulevard," Agrawal wrote.

Plans for a new conservatory have been discussed for nearly a decade. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: After winning election to the Kansas City Council in 2011, Jermaine Reed now has his sights set on the mayor's office.

After two terms on the city council, Jermaine Reed tells how, if elected, he plans to take what he's learned as councilman and apply it to the city's highest office. Reed says "as mayor, I want to ensure we're investing in all area's of the community . . . making sure that we're dicussing greater economic development opportunites."

KCUR 89.3 file photo

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. Thursday to reflect City Council actions.

The old Westport High School is a step closer to a new life as apartments, retail and maybe the future home of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s music and dance conservatory.  

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Trumpeter Hermon Mehari, 31, is a Missouri native, who’s now based in Paris.

In 2010, Mehari graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance where, as a student, he earned early acclaim as one of the founders of Diverse. The jazz group released two CDs, and toured the U.S. and Europe. 

Mehari released his own debut album, "Bleu," in 2017. He spoke with Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix about his career and his ties to Kansas City: 

A man with dark hair wearing a suit and tie smiles while sitting behind a microphone.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: New UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal is focusing on building community and investing in research.

Although the chancellor has only been at UMKC for a few months, his impact is already felt around campus. Today, he talked about one of his main initiatives, raising school spirit, which can be hard to do at a commuter school. Chancellor Agrawal also discussed possible solutions to issues the university currently faces, including housing, student safety and building a new music conservatory.

File photo by Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

“When I was a child my father always told me that it would be great if my daughter would become a composer. It was his dream,” says Chen Yi.

Her father's dream came true. Chen is now well known as a composer, having received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. And as a professor for more than two decades at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Conservatory of Music and Dance, she's taught composition to countless students.

Courtesy UM System

It’s likely layoffs will be necessary to pay for what University of Missouri System President Mun Choi outlined as priorities in a speech last week.

That’s according to Board of Curators Chairman David Steelman.

“Some people are going to lose their jobs. There are going to be program cuts, but we’re going to get the money now for the investments this state needs,” Steelman said Wednesday on KCUR’s Up To Date.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

The seven-year quest to bring the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance to downtown Kansas City ended abruptly Tuesday when university officials issued a statement rejecting any downtown location.

Instead, UMKC will consider sites either on or within a 2.5-mile radius of the Volker campus in the next round of considering proposals, according to a letter from UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal.

Kansas City Public Library

Singer-songwriter Krista Eyler may be best known around Kansas City by her alias: Funky Mama. As Funky Mama, she’s released eight CDs and played at kids events around the metro since 2005.

Lately, she’s been up to something new.

“I love the Funky Mama connection to all things, but this is a far departure,” Eyler says of her new project. “People go, ‘Oh, Funky Mama writes orchestral music?’ Well, I do, and it’s very, very fun.”

University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has taken a new step toward building a conservatory after a previous plan was halted last year, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

Centric Projects/Kansas City Repertory Theatre

A $50 million funding proposal for a new building for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, sponsored by Rep. Noel Shull, R-Kansas City, never made it out of committee during the Missouri General Assembly session that just ended.

Shull proposed the legislation after now-former Gov. Eric Greitens' 2017 veto of $48 million in state bond funding for a downtown Conservatory campus (also sponsored by Shull).

Helix Architecture + Design

The University of Missouri-Kansas City on Thursday announced the merger of two arts programs: the Conservatory of Music and Dance and the Department of Theatre. 

The theater department will move from the College of Arts and Sciences to a school in the Conservatory, according to an email to faculty and staff written by UMKC Interim Chancellor and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.

Sean Chen

Pianist Sean Chen connects his role as performing artist with that of teacher, approaching piano's vast repertoire with humility and fun.

Chen, who is now an artist-in-residence at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, moved to Kansas City from New Haven, Connecticut, two years ago, when his wife Betty, a violinist, joined the Kansas City Symphony. That gave him an instant local connection, and he's collaborated with some Symphony musicians for chamber concerts around town.

courtesy: Helix Architecture + HGA Architects

The Missouri Legislature might once again consider funding for a proposed downtown campus of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

University of Texas at San Antonio / College of Engineering

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:50 p.m. to include comments from incoming chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal and MU spokesman Christian Basi.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s next chancellor, C. Mauli Agrawal, takes over at a time when higher education funding in the state is under fire and inherits the imperiled promise of a downtown location for the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

UM-System President Mun Choi announced Agrawal’s appointment to faculty and staff in an email Tuesday.

Kevin Collison / CityScene KC

This post was updated at 2:06 p.m. to include additional comments from interim chancellor and provost Barbara Bichelmeyer.   

In a major setback to downtown’s cultural ambitions, the planned UMKC Downtown Conservatory has suffered a fatal financial blow, losing a $20 million private pledge essential to building the project.

First reported by CityScene KC, the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has withdrawn its $20 million pledge after deciding the ambitious project as originally planned was no longer viable.

Courtesy Andrew Schwartz / Veritography

A Thanksgiving feast in a Scottish castle was the cherry on top when Kansas City’s Fountain City Brass Band toured the United Kingdom last month as America’s highest-ranked brass band.

Fountain City is one of Kansas City’s strongest musical ambassadors, with a second-place finish at the prestigious Brass in Concert competition at Gateshead, England (placing ahead of top-ranked Cory) and a third at the Scottish Open in Perth. On their own turf, our homegrown ensemble held its own against bands with traditions dating deep into the 1800s.

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 Michael McClintock

When Michael McClintock and Dálida Pupo Barrios met, it was not love at first sight.

Pupo Barrios was doing her job, working for the Cuban minister of culture, accompanying McClintock's tour group when he first visited the country.

Jeff Ridenour

The opera Hansel and Gretel is based on a Grimm Brothers' fairy tale.

In this version of the story, the brother and sister are sent into the forest to gather strawberries. They get lost, encounter creatures like the Sandman and the Dew Fairy — and discover a mysterious gingerbread house where they're captured by a witch. 

A new University of Missouri-Kansas City production creates sets and costumes out of paper.

Isaac Cates

The group: Isaac Cates and the Ordained

The song: "Hold On"

The story: Kansas City gospel singer Isaac Cates grew up hearing his grandparents hum to the traditional gospel song, "Hold On." 

"It's birthed out of the African experience of singing a story of encouragement," Cates says.

Yassie / Wikimedia Commons

As Mun Choi approaches six months on the job as president of the University of Missouri System, the challenges keep coming.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens' state budget for fiscal year 2017 included a $37 million cut to the university system and the potential for $57 million more in permanent cuts in 2018.

John Abbott / Smoke Sessions Records

For jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson, writing songs is easier than it used to be. 

"Because I know who I am, and I accept who I am," Watson told Up to Date host Steve Kraske. "So when I'm writing a song, I'm not really trying to get outside of who I am."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

From the mainstreaming of social media to "fake news" indictments from the chief executive, the journalism industry is in the midst of sweeping transformation. Today, the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism explains how his school teaches new reporters to adapt to the current and future media environments.

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