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KC STAR CLASSICAL BEAT: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Bernstein

Excerpt from The Classical Beat
BY PATRICK NEAS
Special to The Star
April 07, 2018 07:00 AM
Updated April 06, 2018 04:39 PM

Kansas City Symphony 

Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony continue their celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s birthday centennial with a work deeply inspired by the composer’s Jewish heritage. The Kansas City Symphony Chorus directed by Charles Bruffy will join the Symphony for Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Beethoven’s rapturous Choral Fantasy April 13-15 at Helzberg Hall.

Tchaikovsky’s festive Concert Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, with pianist Eldar Nebolsin, will round out the program.

Chichester Cathedral commissioned Bernstein to compose a work for the Southern Cathedrals Festival in 1965. But the Chichester Psalms premiered in New York rather than England, with the composer himself conducting the New York Philharmonic. Bernstein’s previous work set to Jewish texts, the Kaddish Symphony (1963), is a much more melancholy work, while the Chichester Psalms evoke hope and peace.

If the Chichester Psalms are serenely joyful, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy is downright ecstatic. Many consider it the prototype for the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Although the identity of the poet who wrote the text is in doubt, there is no doubt that the words inspired some of Beethoven’s most transporting music.

Accept, then, you beautiful souls,

Joyously the gifts of high art.

When love and strength are united,

Divine grace is bestowed upon Man.

8 p.m. April 13 and 14 and 2 p.m. April 15. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. $35-$100. 816-471-0400 or kcsymphony.org.

Read the article on the KC Star website.