Last night, I attended the first concert of the KC Symphony's new season. This was my first time hearing them as a classical lover. It was at Lyric Theater which is personal and lovely. On the steps outside, we ran into my brother's old teacher and then we went to talk to the general manager of the symphony. Then we went inside to our seats, which I realized would be great, especially after intermission for the piano concerto. The lights dimmed and out came the general manager, who we had just been talking to. That was funny and surprising. He gave a speech about the symphony and the new musicians and Michael Stern. I had been looking forward to seeing Michael Stern conduct because I have heard such great things about him. Unfortunately, Michael Stern would not be conducting this evening, as had originally been intended, because his child was two weeks over its due date! I knew this beforehand, but it was explained more in depth at the concert. The guy they got to fill-in was David Robertson, conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony and London's BBC Symphony Orchestra.
The concert began with Wagner's "Prelude to Die Meistersinger." I didn't know the KC Symphony sounded so good! They played with coherency and strength that I didn't remember. Although, maybe I didn't remember because I hadn't been listening. The Wagner was excellent and it could be heard that the audience agreed. The next piece on the program was "Symphonic Variations" by Dvorak. This composition was, well, variations. It was pleasing to the ear. I can't say much other than that, though, because I had never heard it before.
Then it was "extended 30 minute intermission" time. The reason for the extension was free champagne and chocolate! We all got in line and my parents got their drinks and chocolate first and then the German exchange student and I got chocolates. The lady handing out the champagne must not have been paying attention because she extended her arm to give me a champagne glass. I thought "Oh, in that case, it must not be alcoholic." I reached out to accept it when she realized that I must be underage and she withdrew her hand. "Are you with someone?" She asked. "Yes..." I was very confused and walked off. The chocolate was good (Lindor Truffles!).
After intermission it was time for the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1! Our seats were perfect to see the pianists hands. I had never heard the Tchaik PC before, but I love it now! It was definitely one of the best performances I had ever seen. The soloist was Jon Kimura Parker and he was well beyond "good." He played Tchaikovsky the way Tchaikovsky is meant to be played. The breathtaking finale had the audience jumping up at the final note, mimicking the soloist. We clapped until our palms were red and an encore was granted to us. It was "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel! That was great also, even if it was a bit lighter than Tchaikovsky.
I can't wait to see the Kansas City Symphony again and, eventually, Michael Stern.
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