Sydney Menees


May 26, 2010 00:07

Not much is more rewarding after a tough semester than drifting back into sleep after waking for a moment to hear your siblings hastily preparing for school.  Ahhhh.  Summer has arrived once again.  Returning home is a treat in itself, but being away can cause one to be out of the loop.  I experienced first hand a jolt of that sort on Saturday.   

My Saturday evening was every all-American teenager’s ideal weekend night: Thai food, friends, and the Kansas City Symphony.  Everything was going as planned: Dinner was delicious, the trip to the city was smooth, student rush tickets were cheap, and the program looked promising.  The lights dimmed and a disembodied voice made the following disconcerting announcement: “Filling in the position of concertmaster this evening will be **** ****.”  My initial reaction was, “How odd!  Kanako must have had a last-minute conflict.”  Without another thought on the matter, I let the music wash over me – Debussy’s Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune and Jennifer Higdon’s “The Singing Rooms” with Jennifer Koh as the violin soloist.  I was in good spirits as I approached my friends to converse with them during the break.

“So,” I broached small talk with my compatriots, “What’s with this new concertmaster guy?”

One of my peers answered me, “You know Kanako’s leaving.”

My world was shaken.  Kanako Ito.  The concertmistress I felt I had grown to know as I transformed into a symphony aficionado… leaving?  But I’d become so accustomed to her prowess and leadership of the symphony!  My head was spinning.

“Wait, WHAT?”

And so the fateful tale was explained to me. As it turns out, it’s not fateful for her at all.  Her husband won the position of principal cello chair in the BBC Scottish Orchestra, so they’re moving to Scotland.  For more details, here’s the press release.

As much as it pains me to see Kanako go, I must keep looking forward.  She has moved on, so must we all.  With the KC Symphony sounding the best it ever has and the new symphony hall opening in 2011, I can’t wait to see the masterful candidates who head our way.  


5 replies

View From the Audience, Part 2

May 23, 2010 14:55

It seems as though I overestimated my ability to blog and manage my college work.  No matter.  The semester is over, so I will keep my word and complete my two-part mini series: View From the Audience.  As I lamented in Part 1, my memory is fuzzy, therefore this will be less precise than I would have liked. 

In February, I had the great privilege of hearing the New York Philharmonic for the first time.  The opportunity nearly slipped out of my fingers due to pesky New York subway maps lying about their destinations, but that tale is not worthy of  I made it to Lincoln Center and as soon as I walked into Avery Fisher Hall, I felt like I was entering a phantasmagorical reality.  The stage I had seen for so many years on TV was right in front of me.  On the stage was one of the most renowned orchestras in the world.  From where I was sitting in orchestra seating, the hall was almost full, but I barely had time to survey the audience before the concert began.  It was a short, substantive program:

            Debussy: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

            Benjamin: Dance Figures

            Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand

            Ginastera: Four Dances from the Ballet Estancia

The NY Phil plays like a dream.  I was certainly not disappointed.  I wish I could elaborate more, but I would be doing an injustice.  About the pieces specifically, they were all aurally delectable, but the Ravel was particularly enjoyable.  I was surprised at Ravel’s ability to create such an expansive sound while only employing the left hand.  I had never heard any Ginastera, so I’m not sure how characteristic the Dances were of his work.  The four selections were buoyant and full of Argentinian zest.  They were certainly different from the rest of the program and real crowd pleasers at that.  Since I have to leave for a chamber music party now, I guess this concludes part two of my two part series, View from the Audience.   

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