UMKC Conservatory Performance at the Nelson-Atkins

UMKC Conservatory members put on a commanding performance Friday evening at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The cello and violin performances were especially stirring.

There were five pieces performed in total. Among the performances was an original piece by Professor Mara Gibson of the UMKC Conservatory called “Sky-Born.” There were also pieces by traditionally known composers like Johannes Bach and far newer pieces such as “Ave Maria” by Kevin Memley.

UMKC Professor and Director of Choral Activities Robert Bode put in a flawless performance in conducting two of the five pieces. Gibson conducted her own piece and put in a similarly gifted effort.

“Ave Maria” was a different rendition of a traditional “Hail Mary” — hence, the lyrics were quite simple and concise. There were alternating choral parts, and there was a boisterous and strong end with the concluding recitation of “Amen.”

“There Will Be Rest” by Frank Ticheli had its own rewards for the listener. The lyrics were tranquil, making reference to “the music of stillness.” Though beautiful, the piece may have seemed a little bit off-theme next to the Bach and Monteverdi pieces, especially from a lyrical standpoint.

“Sky-Born” was a challenging piece, since it is not composed in an explicitly traditional manner, but was perhaps the most entertaining of the five. There were relatively complex vocal parts broken up into specific sections. The lyrics were not that hard to follow as they were immaculately performed by the chorus.

The last piece, “Beatus Vir” by Claudio Monteverdi, was the most energetic of the five performances. It started out strong, and the undercurrent of violin had its own attraction and pull on the audience. The ending, a resounding “Gloria,” was astounding in terms of its panache and power.

“I was surprised by how well the music sounded in the Italian Baroque Gallery at the Nelson-Atkins,” Bode said. The gallery is a fairly small space for an average choral performance.

“The space, collaborations and connections left me more inspired than when I first read the poem by Emerson [that the piece was inspired by],” she said afterwards about her performance of “Sky-Born.”

 

cmoffett@unews.com

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