Crescendo: Dream Within Reach

Photo by James Allison.

A whirlwind night of thrilling performances from UMKC Conservatory students, faculty

Crescendo: Dream Within Reach was proof that for students at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, dreams truly can be made real.

This tremendous night of world-class music and dance featured performances by 250 students of the UMKC Conservatory Nov. 4 in the beautiful Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. This unique fundraiser highlighted the achievements of the UMKC Conservatory, raised funds for student scholarships and celebrated those who are dedicated to making the UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts a reality. To date, Crescendo 2016 has raised more than $350,000 and donations continue to come in.

The 60-minute concert opened with the Conservatory Orchestra and Choirs performing Carl Orff’s “O’ Fortuna” from Carmina Burana. Next was the newest oboe faculty member, Celeste Johnson, performing Pasculli’s “Le Api” with piano accompanist Patricia Higdon.

Professor Maria Kanyova entertained with her performance of Bernstein’s “Glitter and be Gay” with the UMKC Orchestra. Up next was the Missouri Brass Quintet, with faculty Keith Benjamin, Joe Parisi, Martin Hackleman, JoDee Davis and Tom Stein, performing “Escape” by McKee.

The performance continued with UMKC Opera’s rendition of Puccini’s “The Reading of the Will” from Gianni Schicchi. Doctor of Musical Arts student Xueli Liu from the Conservatory keyboard division wowed the audience with Margaret Bonds’ “Troubled Waters” followed by the Conservatory Wind Symphony with a breathtaking performance from Ned Rorem’s “Traffic.”

Next was a beautiful a cappella vocal performance of “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie,” an important piece of American folk music attributed to Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter).

The UMKC Conservatory Horn Studio performed a moving rendition of “Shenandoah” followed by the dance performance “A Dream Within Reach” choreographed by Associate Dean Sabrina Madison-Cannon.

The night wouldn’t be complete without an ensemble from the jazz division. “Lighthouse” was composed by Master of Music student Matt Baldwin.

Rounding out Crescendo was Orff’s “O’Fortuna” once again, this time with Conservatory orchestra, choirs and dancers, choreographed by dance chair Paula Weber.

“This year, Crescendo’s theme Dream Within Reach has special significance,” said Conservatory Dean Peter Witte. As he thanked Crescendo Chairs Mike and Linda Lyon and Honorary Chairs J. Scott Francis and Susan Gordon for their dedication and countless hours planning this year’s event, Witte explained the importance of their support and that of many others.

“This fall, UMKC officially reached a $48 million fundraising goal for a new downtown arts campus for the Conservatory. This is the largest amount ever pledged to a single UMKC project in the university’s history.”

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton also shared how broadly UMKC’s Conservatory reaches into Missouri with the debut of a video demonstrating how a UMKC Downtown Campus for the Arts is an investment in Missouri’s future.

“This is always a special event, and a real tribute to the skill and dedication of our students and the faculty who are guiding them,” Morton said. “It brings together so many of our friends: the supporters of the Conservatory, our local and statewide performing arts community, our alumni, and the leadership of our community, our university, and the great state of Missouri.”

Chancellor Morton also expressed gratitude to two organizations that have been instrumental in getting UMKC within reach of the dream: The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Council.

“Our dream is to build a new facility for our Conservatory that will allow us to maintain and expand that impact well into the future. As we have been telling you all evening, the dream is within reach,” Morton said. “Tonight was our students’ moment to be heard. Now we all need to be heard. This new facility for the Conservatory is badly needed and will be a job-producing, economic development asset for the people of Missouri for years to come. Together, we must make this vision real.”

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