UMKC Conservatory dazzles
This upbeat hour of performances was held Nov. 2 in the magnificent Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. It featured an eclectic array of works from opera scenes to jazz, all to raise scholarship funds for UMKC Conservatory students.
“Many of these young artists would not have the opportunity to pursue their dreams without your patronage,” said UMKC Conservatory Dean Diane Petrella to the 1,150 attendees. “Since moving Crescendo to the Kauffman Center in 2012, we have raised over 2 million dollars of scholarship funds. The Friends of the Conservatory have nurtured this event from its inception, dedicating countless hours to making Crescendo a spectacular event.”
Honorary Chairs were Suzanne Shank and Marty Smoler, longtime supporters of the Conservatory and the arts in Kansas City. Event Chairs were Yvette and Joe Miceli.
“Their team has worked tirelessly, leading a committee of dedicated volunteers, paying careful attention to every detail to insure tonight’s event is beautiful and impactful,” Petrella said. “Thanks to their work, we have already raised over $200,000 in new Conservatory student scholarships.”
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Kansas City Power and Light, nearly 1,500 middle and high school students from the Kansas City area attended a matinee. This special performance allowed the UMKC Conservatory to connect with local talent and reach out to the community in hopes of recruiting the next generation of artists to UMKC.
UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal, in welcome remarks at his first Crescendo Gala, expressed his continued admiration for UMKC and Kansas City.
“I have discovered that Kansas City is a progressive city, a city on the move,” Agrawal said. “It is a city which deeply loves and supports the arts. It is also a city that cares a lot about UMKC. I have learned that UMKC is a school with great potential but also with areas of deep excellence. Nothing exemplifies that excellence more than our Conservatory.”
Special guests in attendance included Missouri Governor Mike Parson and his wife Theresa; Missouri Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe and his wife Claudia; members of the Missouri General Assembly, Senators Jason Holsman, John Rizzo and Lauren Arthur; State Representatives Noel Shull, Rusty Black, Judy Morgan, DaRon McGee, Greg Razer and Ingrid Burnett; and Kansas City Mayor Sly James and his wife Licia Clifton-James.
Several members of the city council were also in attendance, including Councilwomen Jolie Justus and Katheryn Shields; and Councilmen Dan Fowler, Quinton Lucas and Lee Barnes. Also in attendance were UM System Curator John Phillips and President Mun Choi.
After the acknowledgements, the fast-paced, collage-style performance began with the Conservatory Orchestra performing “Promenade “from Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. A percussion trio followed with members playing “Stubernic” by Mark Ford. The concert moved quickly to “The Devil’s Dance” from L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) by Igor Stravinsky.
Conservatory Professor Sean Chen performed the piano piece “Overture to Candide” by Leonard Bernstein. The Conservatory Wind Symphony and Conservatory Choirs wowed the audience with “The Future of Fire” by Zhou Long. And “Strum” by Jessie Montgomery followed on violins, viola and cello.
Roo Horns performed “Nearer My God to Thee” and the 11 O’Clock Jazz Band rocked with “Come Fly with Me” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Kahn.
A dramatic enactment was presented from Act III, Scene V from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare; followed by the Conservatory Singers with “Somewhere” from West Side Story.
Next was the Graduate Fellowship Brass Quintet playing “Fire Dance” by Anthony DiLorenzo. A vocal performance by Mozart’s “Che lieto giorno” from La finta giardiniera included the Conservatory Orchestra.
Conservatory dancers entranced with Ciudades: Sarajevo by Guillermo Lago before rounding out the evening with the Conservatory Orchestra and dancers performing Mussorgsky: Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at an Exhibition.
Turning Crescendo upside down this year, the celebration continued in the Brandmeyer Great Hall where all guests were invited to join the party and enjoy dessert and dancing to the band, A La Mode.
But before party attendees left the concert hall, senior Conservatory student Chase Shumsky expressed his thanks and gratitude.
“What will be four years ago on March 30 2019, I received an email from Conservatory admissions saying I was awarded a scholarship to attend UMKC as a saxophone performance major,” Shumsky said. “I just remember seeing the awarded amount and realizing this dream I had of pursuing a degree in music from this amazing Conservatory became that much more of a reality. I’ve been here for four years and still feel like I have yet to scratch the surface of the rich history and culture that this city has to offer. More importantly though, being awarded this scholarship gave my mom the peace of mind to send me here without the fear of the crippling debt that would have been thrown on me after I graduated.”
Shumsky said the scholarship has enabled him to compete in national competitions, experience internationally acclaimed orchestras, perform in and watch master classes with some the world’s best musicians and learn on a daily basis from some of the best educators on planet earth.
“You are doing a great service not only to the students that you support, but also to the world we live in,” Shumsky said. “We are living in a time facing many challenges in our state, country and world, and it is my belief that we as artists in addition to those who vigorously support us are the only ones capable of changing it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please know that your generosity does not and will not go unnoticed.”