Thursday, January 04, 2018
I celebrated when I purchased a half-price seat in the front row for Philip Glass’ appearance at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in 2012. In hindsight, I should have shed a tear. The necessity to sell tickets to a recital by one of the most celebrated living composers at a steep discount may have triggered a shift in the tenor of the Kauffman Center Presents bookings. Concerts by the prestigious likes of Glass have been replaced by the most middlebrow fare imaginable. Forthcoming bookings include the soft rock master Peter Cetera, the former country hitmaker Sara Evans, the kitschy “Riverdance- The 20th Anniversary World Tour” and the Glenn Miller Orchestra ghost band.
Concerts by Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck, the Oak Ridge Boys, Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, Kenny G, Michael McDonald, Kansas, Blondie, David Sanborn and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson have also been part of the Kauffman Center Presents series in recent years. (Appearances by Sweet Honey in the Rock and Herbie Hancock have been among a handful of welcome exceptions to the banal bookings.) I don’t have a fundamental objection to any of those artists. In fact, I gladly attended a handful of the shows. Cheese- particularly when marinated in nostalgia- can be delicious. It’s what’s not being booked at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts that saddens me.
While the Lyric Opera, the Kansas City Symphony, the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and the Harriman-Jewell Series regularly present substantial fare on the magnificent venue’s two stages, I harbored high hopes for the Kauffman Center’s in-house presentations. Before the Kauffman Center opened, organizers intimated that it would usher in a new era of elevated arts in Kansas City. The ambitious experiment didn’t last long. I once expected to attend concerts by heralded geniuses such as Nico Muhly, Sonny Rollins and Gilberto Gil. Instead, I’ll have to make do with ”Glory of Love”.
I write weekly music previews for The Kansas City Star.
I named the Chris Burnett Quintet the KCUR Band of the Week.
I pondered the alarming lack of critical attention for Kansas City’s jazz artists at Plastic Sax.
Rick Hall of Muscle Shoals has died.
A few of the distressing developments addressed in an essay by Libby Hanssen have also impacted my work.
(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)