Virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs with Conservatory student at Kauffman Center
Wei Shen, a master of Music Performance student in the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, performed in a master class with Yo-Yo Ma — arguably the most celebrated cellist in the world — on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts’ Helzberg Hall.
Ma coached Shen and two other cello students. Shen, who is from Shanghai, studies with Carter Enyeart, the Conservatory’s Rose Ann Carr Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor of Cello. Shen’s pianist was Conservatory Artist’s Certificate student Tate Addis, and they performed Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.”
Before enrolling at the Conservatory, Shen received a Bachelor of Music degree from East China Normal University School of Music and was a member of Asian Youth Orchestra and Shanghai Oriental Symphony Orchestra. She also was a substitute cellist for the Shanghai Opera House Orchestra.
The master class is sponsored by the Kansas City Symphony. Ma is in Kansas City to perform Johannes Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture,” Witold Lutoslawski’s “Concerto for Orchestra” and Antonin Dvorák’s “Cello Concerto” with the Kansas City Symphony from Jan. 20 through 22.
The Conservatory’s involvement in Yo-Yo Ma’s Kauffman Center debut reinforces the idea of a downtown UMKC Arts Campus. UMKC recently hired Helix Architecture + Design, Integra Realty Services and HGA Architects and Engineers to complete a feasibility study for a downtown UMKC Arts Campus. The firms will look at potential downtown properties in January, develop site plans and gather feedback from UMKC and the community in February.
One of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s “Big 5” ideas, the UMKC Arts Campus plan would relocate the Conservatory of Music and Dance, UMKC Theatre and other arts programs to a new downtown location, reinforcing the university’s missions to advance urban engagement and excel in the visual and performing arts. With the recent grand openings of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity, civic and university leaders agree that a UMKC Arts Campus would enrich a growing arts district. In line with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation’s 2005 “Time to Get It Right” report – which said the arts are essential to attracting the young, talented professionals Kansas City needs to flourish – the UMKC Arts Campus could bring as many 1,000 students, faculty and staff downtown each week.
If the feasibility study proves the UMKC Arts Campus to be a worthwhile investment, the preliminary goal is to raise between $50-80 million for the move. Funding will rely almost exclusively on local revenue streams.
Quick Five: Wei Shen, master of Music Performance student in the Conservatory of Music and Dance
1. How were you selected to perform in this master class?
2. What are your thoughts on meeting Yo-Yo Ma?
Yo-Yo Ma is an inspiration to all musicians — not just cellists. He is one of the greatest musicians, and it is a great honor to perform for him.
3. Why did you decide to attend UMKC?
When Professor Carter Enyeart visited and taught at my school in Shanghai, I was very impressed with his knowledge of the cello. I decided to study with Professor Enyeart because I felt there was much to learn from him.
4. What are your career goals?
I want to perform music and have fun doing it. I would really like to play in orchestras as part of my future career, as well as chamber music ensembles.
5. What advice would you give to students considering the Conservatory of Music and Dance?
The faculty in this school is very professional and helpful. A level of excellence is expected by students here, and the faculty really know how to facilitate that.