Crescendo – Together We Rise

More than 300 students, faculty perform in annual concert
Crescendo – Together We Rise

The talent of more than 300 University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory faculty and students was on display Nov. 8 at Crescendo.

Held in the stunning Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, Crescendo is the signature event for the UMKC Conservatory and a scholarship fundraiser for UMKC Conservatory students. This year’s gala and concert raised more than $600,000 as of event night and the total is expected to increase as donations continue to come in.

“Many of these young artists would not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams without your patronage,” said Conservatory Dean Diane Petrella before the concert. “Since moving Crescendo to the Kauffman Center in 2012, we have raised over $2.5 million in scholarship funds.”

In addition to raising scholarship dollars, this year’s Crescendo accepted donations to the Conservatory’s piano fund to improve the quality of the piano inventory. Pianos play a critical role in Conservatory programs. The average age of the current piano inventory is 42 years old, with the condition of these instruments deteriorating under the near constant use they are subjected to on a daily basis. Last June, The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts generously awarded the Conservatory a $75,000 grant to use towards the purchase of new pianos. The Conservatory is currently in a campaign to match that grant by raising an additional $75,000 through private donations. The goal is to purchase a new concert grand piano for the White Recital Hall stage on the UMKC campus.

As Crescendo has also grown over the years, Petrella said they have actively sought ways to expand the impact of the performance. Three years ago, the Conservatory began hosting an annual special matinee performance, busing middle and high school students from all over the Kansas City area to the Kauffman Center. For many of the children, this was the first time they’ve experienced a performance of this caliber in a setting this spectacular.

“These performances not only support our efforts in community outreach, but also help us to connect with local talent to recruit the next generation of artists to the Conservatory,” Petrella said. This year, through grant and private funding, the Conservatory expanded this outreach to two performances, with more than 2,500 students attending matinees earlier in the day.

The fast-paced performance began with Masquerade (2013), Anna Clyne (b. 1980) trans. Dennis Llinás, performed by the Conservatory Wind Symphony, Professor Steven D. Davis, conductor. It was quickly followed by O Clap Your Hands (1920), Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-958), sung by the Combined Choral Ensembles with Professor Charles Robinson as conductor.

UMKC piano students delighted the audience with Galop-marche á huit mains (1898), Albert Lavignac (1846-1916); followed by Libertango (1974), Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) arr. Jeff Scott, performed by the UMKC Graduate Fellowship Woodwind Quintet and Professor Celeste Johnson as coach. UMKC Brass students also played “Nimrod” from Enigma Variations (1898-99), Edward Elgar (1857-1934).

The program then featured a scene from An Italian Straw Hat (1851), Eugene Labiche (1815-1888) Marc-Michel (1812-1868), and translated by Professor Felicia Londré.

The Conservatory Orchestra, with Conductor Professor Adam Boyles, performed Music to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1947), David Diamond (1915-2005), 1. Overture. Allegro Maestoso.

The UMKC Jazz Combo entertained with Night and Day (1932), Cole Porter (1891-1964) arranged by Zak Jonas; followed by Precious Lord (1938/1996), Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1933) arranged by Arnold Sevier, sung by Conservatory Singers and with Professor Eph Ehly as conductor.

Courtesy of Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, the audience was tantalized by Sweet in the Morning (1992) with choreography by Leni Wylliams (1961-1996), music by Bobby McFerrin and restaged by Professor DeeAnna Hiett.

Wrapping another amazing year, Crescendo’s last performance was “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide (1956), Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), performed by the Conservatory Orchestra, Combined Choral Ensembles and Professor Adam Boyles as conductor.

The 2019 Crescendo honorary co-chairs were Julie Quinn and Teri Miller; and Mark Sappington and David McGee. Co-Chairs were Marylou Turner and Michael Henry.
Published: Nov 11, 2019

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