Looking Back on our 2022 Season - Celebrating 30 Years!
2020 saw an event unprecedented in any of our lifetimes. Kansas City, much of the United States, and indeed large segments of the world shut down to contain a deadly virus that reached pandemic proportions. To cope in this age of social distancing and shelter-in-place, many of us automatically turned to art – whether listening to music, reading a novel, or viewing a film at home. In times of joy and triumph, in times of hardship and grief, art connects us to each other and to the human spirit. Thankfully, technology allowed us to connect that summer, as we shared live recordings on YouTube. Then, as the world was beginning to emerge from the crisis last summer, we connected through a combination of outdoor concerts along with indoor ones, moving our 30th Anniversary celebration once more until this summer of 2022. Our belief in the power of music is the reason we knew Summerfest was needed more than ever this July.
Week One: Only a Beginning
Saturday, July 9 | 7:30pm | White Recital Hall, UMKC
Sunday, July 10 | 3:00pm | St. Mary's Episcopal Church, KCMO
Our first concert celebrates our 30th anniversary by showcasing the variety of chamber music in which we look forward to the next thirty years of concerts with a collection of the some of the most exciting voices in chamber music today. Mark O’Connor is probably best known for his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma and his bluegrass O’Connor Band. F.C.’s Jig, drawn from the third movement of his “Fiddle Concerto” showcases both aspects of his career with its thrilling, lilting folk-like melodies and rhythms set in a Classical structure. Caroline Shaw is the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize in music and her Ent’racte for string quartet demonstrates why. Building off Haydn’s Op. 77, No. 2 string quartet, Shaw refracts that inspiration through a contemporary lens, helping us hear classical music anew, as though we’re seeing it in color for the first time. Giancarlo Menotti is no stranger to Summerfest, and his Cantilena e Scherzo for harp and string quartet features some of his most beautiful instrumental melodies, almost like the quartet is singing to you. Jessica Meyer is a rising composer and her Only a Beginning is made for this time, as it depicts how we are changed by sacrificing for others. We end the summer with one of the great works of chamber music, Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17. Displaying intense virtuosity for all three performers, Schumann’s Trio travels through a range of emotions, ultimately ending with a note of triumph, a feeling we could all use more of these days.
Week Two: Equal P(l)ay
Saturday, July 16 | 7:30pm | White Recital Hall, UMKC
Sunday, July 17 | 3:00pm | St. Mary's Episcopal Church, KCMO
Our second concert celebrates the often-overlooked contribution of women and people of color to the art of chamber music. We begin with Forensis by Mary Mageau, a piece that takes Goethe’s famous statement that chamber music is a conversation among intelligent people literally. In the work, the four musicians play melodic lines that listen, reply, and even interweave like the best exchanges among dear friends. Germaine Tailleferre’s Piano Trio features a similar conversation, but this time with Ravel and Faure about what it means to be musically French. Her trio features the lush melodies we expect from French composers, but with a rhythmic vitality all her own. Finally, Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s Nonet lets us hear a young composer at the beginning of his career. Coleridge Taylor was in school when he wrote the work, and he poured all he knew of counterpoint, melodic grace, and instrumental colors into it. After this concert, you’ll clearly see why we need regularly to hear these underrepresented voices.
Week Three: 30th Anniversary
Saturday, July 23 | 7:30pm | White Recital Hall, UMKC
Sunday, July 24 | 3:00pm | St. Mary's Episcopal Church, KCMO
Our third week, our “official” 30th Anniversary celebration, starts with Samuel Zyman’s Quintet, featuring the unusual combination of clarinet, bassoon, violin, viola, and piano. Full of lyrical counterpoint and propulsive rhythms, the Quintet showcases Zyman’s engagement with the sounds of his native Mexico. Perhaps no composer is more fitting to end a 30th. anniversary concert than Johannes Brahms, a man who made the ancient modern and infused it with new life. We end with Brahms imagining orchestral music written for nine players in the original chamber version of his monumental Serenade no. 1 in D Major, op. 11. Originally composed for nonet in 1858, he later made this work for both chamber orchestra and full orchestra, a prelude to his four remarkable symphonies.
Week Four: An Invitation to the Dance
Saturday, July 30 | 7:30pm | White Recital Hall, UMKC
Sunday, July 31 | 3:00pm | St. Mary's Episcopal Church, KCMO
In our final week, Summerfest invites you to tap your feet to music that dances. Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s Trio Sonata in G minor starts us off by demonstrating the composer’s amazing abilities as an improvisor. Trio sonatas were a new genre in France when she began performing them, so she felt free to break some of the rules to make the music go where she wanted it to. Fanny Mendelssohn similarly broke the rules as a female composer who was perhaps more Romantic in sentiment than her famous brother. Her String Quartet in E-flat is a bold work that builds from Beethoven’s essays in the genre to create a music at once deeply personal and wildly public in its emotions. Isabella Leonarda may not be a familiar name to you now, but after hearing her Sonata a 4 in D minor, Op. 16, No. 12, you’ll be a convert to music that Sebastien de Brossard described as “so beautiful, so gracious, so brilliant and at the same time so learned and so wise.” We end the week with Ralph’s Old Records, a biographical work by Portland-based composer Kenji Bunch. Bunch’s music is infused with the popular music and jazz he heard growing up, and this work celebrates his father’s record collection and the impact it made on his sonic world.