Can you remember back to 1991, when Russia elected its first president, South Africa repealed apartheid, and the Persian Gulf War ended? The Silence of the Lambs and Beauty and the Beast ruled the box office and hip-hop began to control the pop charts, while Claudio Arrau and Miles Davis left a void in the musical world. Amazingly, Summerfest can remember these events and more, as this year we celebrate 25 seasons of music and insight in the Kansas City summer. And in honor of that milestone, we want to give you a present – a chance to rediscover (or experience for the first time) some of the most powerful and memorable music we’ve ever performed.
Please join us on any of the following weekends. Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at White Recital Hall, 4949 Cherry, Kansas City, MO. Sunday performances begin at 3 p.m. at Country Club Christian Church, 6101 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, MO.
There will be a special Anniversary Celebration Reception after the Saturday concert on the 25th.
Week 1 – July 11 & 12
In our first week, Summerfest opens with two works on either end of the performing spectrum: the Baroque composer Telemann’s Quartet in E minor and the modern composer Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles. Telemann, working to maintain a rising profile in France, wrote a quartet with all the elegance and grace expected in that country that contained traces of his Eastern European travels, while Ligeti paid homage to his countryman Bela Bartók with a set of folk-like dances similarly inspired by Hungarian sounds. The concert ends with Gabriel Faure’s magisterial Piano Quartet no. 1 in C minor in which he works to break free of the bounds of German Romanticism and celebrate the particularly French in music. It is a passionate, lyrical work that will make you glad you came to join in his celebration.
Week 2 – July 18 & 19
Our second week continues the exploration of French music with Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp. Debussy wrote the work during World War I to prove that while the Germans might degrade French music, they could never destroy it. His wonderful pastel colors complement George Handel’s Trio Sonata in F major, HWV 389. Handel only published two collections of trio sonatas during his life, and this charming and vivacious work for two treble instruments displays his genius for spinning out melodies by the yard. The week closes with Paul Moravec’s Tempest Fantasy, a work dark and dancing in turns, built off a single line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that might serve as the concert’s theme: “Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.”
Week 3 – July 25 (Anniversary Concert)
Week three brings with it three remarkable works that take us from the courts, to the countryside, to the city, all for a extraordinary fete. J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, written as an audition piece, still enchants audiences today with the power and virtuosity of its composition and those who perform it. Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite is a slice of true Americana built off the Shaker tune “‘Tis a Gift to be Simple.” Instead of impressing you with its architecture as does Bach’s work, Copland’s suite slips under your skin, almost as though you have always known it. The week ends with William Walton’s Façade, a work so unprecedented in the 1920s that the only term Walton could think to describe it was “an entertainment.” We’re certain that its collection of urbane dances and verses will have you not only entertained, but enlightened as well.
Week 4 – August 1 & 2
Our final week is a reminder that Summerfest not only presents wonderful music, but helps create it as well. Kristin Kuster’s Ribbon Earth, commissioned by Summerfest in 2008, was inspired by Brent Collins’s sculpture Pax Mundi that sits in the H&R Block headquarters and spirals through space, much like Kuster’s melodic gestures. Morton Gould’s Benny’s Gig was also motivated by an outside idea, in this case Benny Goodman’s 1962 tour of Russia and the clarinetist’s remarkable fusion of jazz and classical music. The multinational Osvaldo Golijov returns to Summerfest with his Lullaby and Doina, a work that takes a Yiddish lullaby and spins it into a gypsy dance, merging Eastern Europe’s most persecuted people into a work of remarkable synthesis. And finally England’s overlooked Charles Villiers Stanford brings us his Serenade in F minor, Nonet, Op. 95, a work that languished through most of its life until, a little over twenty-five years ago, someone took a chance and rediscovered a hidden gem. Like Summerfest itself, the Serenade reminds us that many of the best things in life flower in the summer.