mark morris dance group: acis and galatea

KCMetropolis.orgBack in the saddle of reviewing stuff again after the holiday hiatus. Also, I’m pleased to realize last night that this week is my 5th anniversary writing for KCMetropolis.org! A few extra thoughts on my latest review:

On Saturday night Nick and I went to the Kauffman Center for Acis and Galatea, staged by Mark Morris Dance Group. The Harriman-Jewell Series is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season, and so to mark this occasion went in on co-commissioning this production from Mark Morris. It was spectacular! I’m not usually very into Baroque music—I respect it and everything, and it’s pretty fun to play, but I can’t say I sit around and listen to it in my leisure time much. But I was really pleased by the fine treatment of Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s Acis by the orchestra and choir, made up of Kansas City-area musicians. You would have thought they played together all the time, not just assembled for this one gig.

Acis was pumped up as one of the top events to see this season, and it lived up to the hype. It was a really fun, accessible production that reached across genres—dance, music, art, theatre—that I think almost everyone could enjoy. Congrats to HJS!

Read my full review at KCMetropolis.org:

2014 year-in-review

mlhm 2014 stats

Hello, fellow readers! Over the weekend I tried my hand at making a cool graphic a la River City Reading but admittedly I had some trouble and I’m not sure I’ll do that again… ha! But it turned out okay, if a little small to read. Here’s the stats:

  • 56 total books (62.5% paper books, 23% audiobooks, 14.5% ebooks). I read 13,726 pages and spent 6,446 minutes listened to audiobooks, giving an average rating of 3.8 stars on Goodreads.
  • 36 owned, 19 from the library, 1 borrowed
  • I mostly read Non-fiction (43%) and Literary fiction (23%)
  • I mostly read books published in the 2010s (39 of 56)
  • I mostly read books set in the United States.
  • Of 54 authors, 31 were male and 22 were female (with 1 book co-authored by male and female writers)
  • Did I read diversely? Not as much as I would have liked or thought: only 16% of the books I read were authored by a person of color, and only 30% were non-US American authors.

So I feel all right about the gender split, but I don’t particularly like the numbers there on my diversity in reading. This is the first year I tracked author gender/race/nationality. Here’s the thing, though—I choose books to read first and foremost based on the subject matter or the story, whether those appeal to me. So it’s a bit uncomfortable that I ended up with stats like this on authors unconsciously. But who goes into reading a book with lowered expectations because of a writer’s gender, race, or nationality? And why does it matter? I believe there are many factors into why stats easily become skewed towards white American dudes—marketing, history, and so on. More in-depth, researched blog posts and articles have been written on the subject. I just hope that by observing my own stats here that I can more actively seek out authors of color and non-American authors, and discover some new, awesome books in 2015 and beyond!

hmc + mafb

KCMetropolis.orgI can’t believe we’re halfway through December already! I’ve been wrapped up in holiday concerts for a couple weeks now, with two of my own via the orchestras I’m in and reviewing two for KCMetropolis.org. It just so happens that I ended up covering two of Kansas City’s major LGBT arts groups, Heartland Men’s Chorus and the Mid America Freedom Band. HMC is one of my favorite choirs in town—its shows are so much fun, with a lot of humor, heart, and awesome production value. MAFB is growing by leaps and bounds itself, adding shows and break-out factions of the group all the time. What I appreciate the most about these two shows I saw, though, is that while they were holiday concerts, the programming was adventurous and creative enough to warm even my semi-grinchy heart. As a musician, the performing arts offerings can become mind-numbingly repetitive this time of year—the same carols, the same arrangements, the same Handel’s Messiah, the same the same the same—so to hear some interesting, uncommon arrangements and programming themes that stray from the usual was the best, and these two groups didn’t disappoint on that front.

Read my full reviews at KCMetropolis.org:

yo-yo ma + kathryn stott

KCMetropolis.orgNew issue of KCMetropolis.org today, and I have one review: Yo-Yo Ma, cello and Kathryn Stott, piano on the Harriman-Jewell Series. The recital was on my wedding anniversary, October 16, but my husband was out of town! So this was a nice treat that evening, even though Nick wasn’t with me—we’ll find another time to celebrate. Anyway, the recital was brilliant, masterful, so amazing. Yo-Yo Ma exceeded all my expectations—he is really a wonderful musician to witness live, he plays with such joy and passion. He even shouted “Go Royals!” on his way off stage after the performance! (For those who don’t know, our Kansas City Royals are in the World Series this week… the last time they were in the World Series was 1985, 29 years ago! So we’re all pretty excited here in the City of Fountains.)

Read my full review at KCMetropolis.org: Captivating and masterful duo recital

kansas city jazz orchestra

KCMetropolis.orgI haven’t posted about my concert coverage here for a while because an awful aggregate website called Tinseltown News (not linking to it) was picking up my posts, so I’m trying again with caution…

Last weekend I went to the Kauffman Center to see the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra‘s season opener, featuring all-around jazz guru Hal Melia. About a decade ago I took jazz voice (!) lessons with Hal here in Kansas City, before he moved. He is probably the most enthusiastic, fun-loving, joyful performer I know! Just an awesome player and and awesome person. It was a pleasure to see him again back in KC for a concert. And the KC Jazz Orchestra was better than ever—I thought the programming for this first concert was smart and varied. Bonus fun fact: this is my 150th article for KCMetropolis.org!

Read my full review at KCMetropolis.org: KCJO’s swingin’ history lesson

Recent reviews:

my top picks 2013–14

KCMetropolis.orgThis last season was a rough one—an apartment move I didn’t want, both of my grandmothers dying, and a more-stressful-than-ever school year. I’m afraid I didn’t end up reviewing as much I would have normally liked. But despite the tough stuff, I was still able to pick out some great shows for my top picks list on KCMetropolis.org:

• Soul legend Aaron Neville and his quintet giving a nostalgic and memorable concert at the Folly Theater presented by Cyprus Avenue Live, October 2013.

• Early-music icon Jordi Savall and his ensemble Hespèrion XII on the Friends of Chamber Music series, performing his latest project Honey and Blood: The Cycles of Life at the Folly Theater, October 2013.

• A fun, funky trip down memory lane thanks to The Wiz at the Coterie Theatre, November 2013.

• The Performing Arts Series at Johnson County Community College‘s headliners for its 2014 Jazz Winterlude festival: percussionist Teri Lynne Carrington and inimitable Latin jazz/Afro-Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, January 2014.

• Emerging classical violinist Nicola Benedetti on the Harriman-Jewell Series. I especially loved her performance of Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in F Major, Op. 80. February 2014.

• Jazz violinist Regina Carter sharing her deeply personal roots music in for a Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts presentation in Helzberg Hall, March 2014.

• Singer-songwriter-pianist John Legend giving a stripped-down, intimate concert in the Kauffman Center‘s Helzberg Hall, May 2014. (Click here for my blog post.)

Heartland Men’s Chorus‘s season finale Vegas, Baby was an extravaganza of fabulous proportions. It was fun to hear a Liberace impersonator play “The Beer Barrel Polka” on piano—a clear nod to our shared home state, Wisconsin! June 2014.

• I was moved by Randy Noojin’s Woody Guthrie retrospective, Hard Travelin’ with Woody, on this summer’s Kansas City Fringe Festival, July 2014.

• Also on the Kansas City Fringe Festival, Kevin King’s Bad Auditions lived up to the hype, clearly deserving of its Best of Venue award and extended run at the Fishtank, August 2014.

Read my list of top picks with more thoughts and direct links to individual reviews at KCMetropolis.org: Editor’s Picks 2013–14 season: Kristin