Chamber orchestra announces holiday concert


Posted by Bob Evans

Kansas City Chamber Orchestra Announces
Its “Magnificent” Holiday Concert
Tuesday, Dec. 10, Old Mission United Methodist Church

Concert Features J.S. Bach’s “Magnificat” Perfect to Celebrate the Holidays

The Kansas City Chamber Orchestra is pleased to announce their 33rd Season will continue on Tuesday, December 10th at Old Mission United Methodist Church in Fairway, Kansas. The beautiful old stone church on Shawnee Mission Parkway will be the perfect atmosphere for the candlelit holiday program entitled “Magnificent Holidays,” featuring J.S. Bach’s “Magnificat,” with Bruce Sorrell conducting. “We aren’t in the habit of thinking of Bach as a great dramatic composer,” explained Sorrell. “He didn’t compose anything for the stage, unlike Handel and Rameau who were great opera composers. But Bach’s glorious setting of the Magnificat text is full of drama and jubilation, fitting for the celebration of Christmas for which it was originally written. I can’t wait to perform it with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, Musica Vocale, and a group of outstanding soloists!”

 A glorious celebration of sound, the KCCO Holiday Concert will feature the following:

Rameau:             Overture to Les fetes de Polymnie

Rameau:         Overture to Naïs

Handel: Concerto Grosso in C Minor, Op. 6 No. 8

Telemann:          Concerto for Oboe d’Amore in G major, with soloist Margaret Marco, oboe

J.S. Bach:
             Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243, with Musica Vocale Choral Ensemble, and soloists:  Sarah Tannehill Anderson, Kayleigh Aytes, Jay Carter, Kyle Stegall, Warren Huffman



Largely unknown in the concert hall, and still woefully underrepresented in opera performances, the wonderfully inventive French composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau represents a completely different sound world from what we normally associate with the Baroque. We usually think of the late Baroque represented by the music on the rest of this concert – Bach, Handel, Telemann (and Vivaldi, of course, though not represented on this concert). The wonderful sonorities and dramatic gestures of Rameau’s music are even more of a surprise as a result. The concert opens with not one, but two overtures from his dramatic works, paired to set the stage for the rest of the concert!


Handel is rightfully one of the most revered composers from the Baroque era, but because of the overwhelming popularity of ‘Messiah’ (and the rise in popularity of his operas in recent decades), his purely instrumental music is not heard as often in the concert hall. The label ‘concerto grosso’ is one largely associated with the Baroque, and contrasts a small group of soloists with the larger group (grosso). Handel composed many and they are a delight to hear and see in concert.



Telemann was THE important composer in early 18th-century Lutheran Germany. His tremendous output of music in nearly every category was highly valued. Today, the music of J.S. Bach has eclipsed Telemann’s stature in both the history of Western music and in the concert hall. But every time we have programmed Telemann over the past 3 decades, the audience and the musicians rediscover the delightful inventiveness of his music. His Concerto for Oboe d’Amore is just such a work. The oboe d’amore (Italian for ‘oboe of love’) was invented in the early 18th century, but after the Baroque era, the instrument fell out of use. There is a resurgence of popularity for this most sweet of oboes, and new works are being written for the instrument, including A Siege of Herons by composer Forrest Pierce, given its world premiere by Margaret Marco and the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra in 2016.



As might be expected with any choral work by Bach setting a religious text, the Magnificat is one of the greatest works in the repertoire. Like the other composers on this concert, Bach was a great dramatist. But unlike Handel and Rameau, he never wrote anything for the secular stage. His sense of drama brought to life the great stories and texts of Christianity and Lutheranism, which provided the main part of his life’s employment and motivated a good deal of his compositional output. Always aware of the musical and dramatic possibilities of the texts he was setting, the Magnificat follows in this tradition. The ancient song attributed to Mary, which in the Latin begins, “Magnificat,” translates into English as “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Divided into sections for chorus and five different soloists (see Muscia Vocale & soloists below), each section is musically animated by the text.  It opens with an excited and energetic “Magnificat,” the chorus repeating the word ecstatically. The next choral appearance interrupts the Soprano soloist to sing, “all generations shall call me blessed.” These are two illustrations of classic “word painting” occurs throughout the score bringing the text to life. Bach’s glorious setting is full of drama and jubilation, fitting for the celebration of Christmas for which it was written.



Musica Vocale

Musica Vocale is a 24-member ensemble made up of highly skilled choral musicians that performs choral literature under the direction of Arnold Epley. This talented ensemble is comprised of active members of the region’s professional musical community. Most of the choral artists bring extensive experience as music educators and performers and are engaged throughout the region as soloists and conductors. Epley is emeritus professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at William Jewell College and Conductor Laureate of the Kansas City Symphony Chorus.


Margaret Marco, Oboe d’amore soloist

Margaret Marco’s playing has been described as “wistful and utterly engaging,” and “often reminiscent of a soprano’s operatic aria.” She began her professional career as the principal oboist of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Maracaibo in Venezuela.  Since then, her many solo, chamber and orchestral performances have taken her to a variety of prestigious international venues in locations such as Japan, Costa Rica, England, Canada, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and China as well as performances and master classes across the U.S. Margaret is Professor of Oboe at the University of Kansas School of Music and principal oboist of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. A strong advocate for new music for her instruments (oboe and oboe d’amore), Dr. Marco has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mu Phi Epsilon and the University of Kansas to perform and record new chamber works by American composers.  In 2016 she premiered A Siege Of Herons, a concerto for oboe d’amore and strings by Forrest Pierce with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra.


Magnificat Soloists (For brevity, bios of the soloists can be found linked on our website):

The J.S. Bach Magnificat performance will include 5 vocal soloists, 2 sopranos, alto, tenor, and bass, and features Bach specialists tenor Kyle Stegall –  “..ripe lyric tenor with poetic intelligence.” (The Sunday Times, London) and Jay Carter, who have performed internationally with the Bach Collegium Japan under Masaaki Suzuki. Carter is recognized as a leading interpreter of late Baroque repertoire and has been lauded for his luminous tone, stylish interpretations, and clarion delivery. Also featured are some of Kansas City’s most talented professional vocalists including Sarah Tannehill Anderson.  Please see more on the KCCO website: or on the linked websites below.


Sarah Tannehill Anderson, soprano:,

Kayleigh Aytes, soprano:

Jay Carter, countertenor (alto) :

Warren Huffman, baritone/bass

Kyle Stegall, tenor:

Individual tickets for Magnificent Holidays range from $20 to $35. Senior, ½ price student and season ticket discounts are available. Students 5 – 18 FREE with Adult Season ticket holder. Tickets also include a free pre-show talk with the conductor at 6:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online at or call (816) 235-6222.

 The Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, now in its 33rd season, is the region’s only professional resident chamber orchestra. Founded by music director and conductor Bruce Sorrell, the orchestra features talented professional musicians who live and work in the metropolitan area including members of the Kansas City Symphony, music faculties of the University of Kansas and the Conservatory at University of Missouri – Kansas City, and freelance professionals. For more information, visitKCChamberOrchestra.   

Night Reflections, Thursday, September 26, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

Tony Maglione, guest conductor

A constellation of beautiful music both old and new with Haydn’s “Trauer” Symphony, stellar works by Arvo Pärt and Arensky, and contemporary woman composer Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst


Magnificent Holidays, Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 7:30 p.m., Old Mission United Methodist Church

Bruce Sorrell, Conductor, Margaret Marco, Oboist, Musica Vocale Choral Ensemble, Soloists: Sarah Tannehill Anderson, Kayleigh Aytes, Jay Carter, Warren Huffman, Kyle Stegall

A glorious celebration of sound featuring J.S. Bach’s – Magnificat with choir and soloists,

Telemann’s Concerto for Oboe d’amore and other festive Baroque works.


Enchanted Romance, Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 7:30 p.m., Folly Theater

Carolyn Watson, Guest Conductor

Romantic music for strings, voice and soloists in the warm sound of the historic Folly Theater, followed by our signature Champagne Chocolate Celebration event


Mystical Spring, Saturday, May 2, 8:00 p.m., St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Bruce Sorrell, Conducting, Park International Center for Music soloists

A blockbuster season finale featuring the orchestra and award winning soloists from the International Center for Music, Park University performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and other exciting concertos for strings and piano.

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