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Perfect 12

Best Dozen 2008 Moments in Local Music and Dance
Competition was fierce this year for the best of 2008, for one simple reason: Kansas City’s culture remains on such an upward trajectory that it’s not out of line to say this might have been the city’s best-ever year for classical music and dance. I mean ever, as in, during Our Town’s 155-year history. Whoa, baby. So here are my choices for the concerts this year that made me feel alive again.

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Elegant, sumptuous, eclectic to a fault

Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker opens to acclaim

One local holiday tradition that changes little from year to year is the Kansas City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, and that will be either good or bad news depending on whether you’re a traditionalist or an adventurist.

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Recital As Séance

Ukrainian Pianist Seeks New Paths For Old Music
Konstantin Lifschitz, the Ukrainian-born pianist, is one of those restless musical spirits who sails uncharted waters seeking ever-elusive truths behind musical masterpieces. There was a mystical, almost séance-like atmosphere to his Friends of Chamber Music recital on Friday, the 31-year-old pianist’s only appearance in the United States this season.

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Subtly…not so much

Lyric Opera embraces Puccini’s most sensationalistic opera
No one ever accused Puccini of subtlety for his potboiler Tosca. A diva agrees to “give in” to a lecherous villain in return for her lover’s freedom. Instead she stabs him. Villain betrays her. The lover is executed. She leaps to her death.

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Amenable to the ecumenical

Summer Music at the Cathedrals uses music to bring faith groups together
At a time when Roman Catholics and Episcopalians seem to be growing ever-further apart, gestures of unity are always refreshing. That’s why Summer Music at the Cathedrals, a musical partnership between Our Town’s Catholic and the Episcopal cathedrals downtown, is a welcome addition to the upwelling of local performing arts during the last decade.

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