Program Notes

Mastery of Mozart & Beethoven
April 29, 2017 | 7:30 PM

Botero_Victoria_Color_printingFrom Baroque to New Music, from opera to concert to world music stages, her “clear, beautiful, and thrilling” voice (Wichita Eagle) and “considerable charisma” (Kansas City Star) allows Colombian-American soprano Victoria Botero to deftly navigate a variety of musical genres and styles. For more detailed information, click on the Concert, Opera, and New Music links above.

Ms. Botero’s operatic repertoire includes her recent appearances as Susanna in Muddy River Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro, the role of The Mother, in the world premiere of Susan Kander’s The Giver with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance with Union Avenue Opera.

Ms. Botero also enjoys a wide-ranging concert and recital career featuring collaborations with many different artists and ensembles. Most recently she premiered a piece with the Atemporchestra at TEDxKC. She is a soloist with Ensemble Ibérica in a variety of Spanish-themed concerts, and collaborated with them to create an award-winning CD, Colonia (Tzigane).

She tours regularly as a member of the critically acclaimed duo Botero Bledsoe with classical guitarist Beau Bledsoe, in programs featuring the intersection of art, folk and popular music from around the world. Their CD Un ramo de voz (Tzigane) was released in 2013.

Ms. Botero received her B.M in Vocal Performance from The Catholic University of America, an M.A. Voice and an M.M. Musicology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and is a student of renowned master teacher, Inci Bashar. She apprenticed with Des Moines Metro Opera and Tulsa Opera. Fluent in Spanish and Italian, she performs in more than a dozen languages and dialects. Ms. Botero currently resides in Kansas City.

View More: American operatic tenor, Ben Gulley, has been hailed “as an outstanding tenor (Opera News) … startlingly-gifted (San Francisco Classical Voice).” Mr. Gulley’s career is burgeoning with lead and feature roles in opera, sole engagements, concert work, film work, nationwide touring, and prestigious appearances abroad. Mr. Gulley is the 2009 winner of the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council District & Regional Competitions and a National Semi-Finalist. Other awards include the winner of the Hellam Young Artists’ Competition, Richard Tucker Foundation finalist, Florida Grand Opera competition finalist, Silver Medalist and People’s Choice Award from the Tulsa Rotary Club’s Competition, and a finalist for the Palm Beach Opera Competition; as well as awards from the Gerda Lissner Foundation and Shreveport Opera’s Singer of the Year including the Audience Favorite Award and Encouragement Award.

The 2014-15 season began with MTH’s rave-reviewed Bernstein’s Broadway, role debut as Ernee in Les Troyens under the baton of Maestro Kent Nagano in San Francisco, role debut as Radames in Aidawith Opera San Luis Obispo and the start of Mr. Gulley’s first solo national recital tour presented by Allied Concert Services. The 2011-14 seasons saw Mr. Gulley on the stages of Chautauqua Opera as Edmondo in Manon Lescaut and Edgardo (cover) in Lucia di Lammermoor, Opera San Luis Obispo role debut as Tamino, debut in I Puratani as Arturo with Minnesota Concert Opera, Cedar Rapids Opera as the fourth Jew in Salome (his first HD Broadcast), Borsa in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Rigoletto and as The Peasent in La fille du Regiment. Previous stage work includes UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance as the title role in Britten’s Albert Herring and Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Kansas Concert Opera as Turridu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Lt. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Coming from, and equally at home in musical theater, his proudest musical theater moment was as Stromboli (taking the role over from Brent Spiner) in the world premiere of the TV movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Gepetto & Son with the Coterie Theater with Stephen Schwartz and David Stern.

Commercially Mr. Gulley is currently one half of the operatic tenor duo Gulley/Granner with fellow tenor Nathan Granner. 2014 saw the release of their first independent record release of Benchmark Tenor Arias with new arrangements for piano quartet. Mr. Gulley was a member of the SONY/BMG Masterworks recording group The American Tenors 2010-14 and the 2011-12 National Tour through LiveOnStage. He has been twice featured on the PBS nationally televised Memorial Day event “Celebration at the Station” with the KC Symphony under the baton of Maestro Michael Stern. Plus, numerous crossover concerts and events with mainstream artists and entertainers such as David Foster, Natalie Cole, Brenna Whitaker, Blues Traveler, SNL alumni Darryl Hammond, Mark O’Conner, Cherry Holmes, JoJo, Stephen Schwartz, Jason Robert Brown, Jesse Lynch and others.

Mr. Gulley is a graduate of the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he is also a sitting member of the Alumni Board. Other training has included the apprenticeships with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City 2009-11, the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival singing as Jason in A Grand Night for Singing, as Ludwig in the World Premiere of the opera Nocciolina, and Opera in the Ozarks as Lt. B.F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and Sam Polk in Susannah.

in 2011 Mr. Gulley had the privilege of being the first artist to sing on the stage of the incomparable Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with Maestro Ward Holmquist at the piano in his hometown of Kansas City, MO.

kristeehaney_slideshow7American mezzo-soprano Kristee Haney continues to impact audiences as a versatile performer in the varying genres of opera, oratorio, musical theatre and recital repertoire.

In the  2016 / 2017 season Ms. Haney joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for productions of Janáček’s Jenůfa and Massenet’s Werther.  Additional engagements included a Carnegie Hall debut as the alto soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, European tour of Bizet’s Carmen with the New York City Opera, appearances as the alto soloist in Mozart’s Requiem and a series of solo recitals.

Recent seasons have included a North American and European tour of Bizet’s Carmen with New York City Opera,  as well as title role debuts in Massenet’s Cendrillon and Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

Performing across the United States and internationally, Ms. Haney has appeared with the New York City Opera  (Carmen / Carmen), Siena Music Festival (Cendrillon / Cendrillon), Trentino Music Festival (Giulio Cesare / Giulio Cesare), Lyric Opera of Kansas City (Flora / La Traviata, Second Lady / The Magic Flute, Second Secretary to Mao / Nixon in China),  Union Avenue Opera (Maddalena / Rigoletto), Rimrock Opera (Elizabeth Proctor / The Crucible), Lyric Opera of Kansas City Apprentice Program (Baba the Turk / The Rake’s Progress,  Dinah / Trouble in Tahiti).  Partial role highlights include: Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking), Charlotte (Werther), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte), and Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier).                                                                                                                                                                                           In crossover repertoire Ms. Haney has made strong impressions as Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd), Maria (The Sound of Music), and Countess Charlotte Malcolm (A Little Night Music).  While at Vocal Fellow at the Music Academy of the West she worked with legendary comedienne Carol Burnett, performing selections from Sondheim’s Company.

As an active oratorio soloist, Ms. Haney has appeared with the New York City Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, St. Joseph Symphony, William Baker Festival Singers, Kansas City Baroque Consortium, Spire Chamber Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Singers, Armonia Early Music Ensemble, Boston Early Music Festival, and the Spoleto Festival USA.  Oratorio highlights include such works as Duruflé’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater; Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Magnificat, Matthäus-Passion and Johannes-Passion, as well as Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Messiah.  After a recent performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Ms. Haney was hailed as the “stand-out soloist … whose seemingly effortless agility in scaling Bach’s vocal demands was exceptional.”

Nathan Whitson_Headshot_2014Nathan Whitson’s Hunding was recently hailed as “a hulking basso tyrant in a hillbilly beard . . . impressive in every way, with a big dark voice that didn’t quit,” by the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. His stage presence and rich resonant voice have both been noted for their authoritative and stentorian qualities, making him well suited to the bass roles in Wagner’s demanding operas.
Whitson resides in Kansas City, Missouri, and has performed operatic roles with a number of companies near and far, including regular engagements with The Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Winter Opera St. Louis, The St. Petersburg Opera, Union Avenue Opera, and The Ohio Light Opera. In 2008 he was featured in the role of Charles Robinson in Kirke Mechem’s world debut of John Brown with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Known to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City as a dependable professional, Mr. Whitson was honored to be invited to perform the role of Oroveso in Norma on a short four-hours notice in 2010 when the principle artist could not perform.
His recent engagements have included the roles of Frére Laurent in Romeo et Juliette where he “brought a powerful voice and stentorian presence to his portrayal of Frere Laurent,” according to the Tampa Bay Times, and Oroveso in Bellini’s Norma with the St. Petersburg Opera in Florida.
Closer to home, he has recently appeared as both Hunding and Fafner in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen with Union Avenue Opera in St. Louis. Here in Kansas City he recently stunned audiences with his performance as Ciaiphas in Jesus Christ Superstar with the acclaimed Music Theater Heritage where he “deployed a rich bass of operatic resonance, making you fear for the theater’s structural integrity.” — The Pitch
Whitson discovered his passion for music in high school and subsequently went on to study in New York. There, he was privileged to study under renowned voice teacher, Armen Boyajian, a premiere teacher for male voices with a student roster that has included Samuel Ramey, Gerald Finley, and Paul Plishka.

Benedictine College Chamber Singers (1)The Benedictine College Chamber Singers is one of four choral ensembles in the Department of Music at Benedictine College. And auditioned ensemble, Chamber Singers performs music from all musical time periods and many genres. In December of this year they will tour Italy and sing for masses and give concerts at Saint Mark’s in Venice, the Basilica in Assisi, and multiple performances for Pope Francis at St. Peter’s in the Vatican.



2017 MWSU Concert CHoraleUnder the direction of Dr. Elise Hepworth, the Concert Chorale is a non-audition ensemble made up of majors, minors, and non-music majors from across Missouri Western State University’s campus. This ensemble enjoys performing challenging repertoire in a fun, high-energy environment.  This group has enjoyed recent commissioned works by Susan LaBarr and Roger Zare, and clinics from Richard Bjella, Anthony Maglione, and Charles Robinson.  The Concert Chorale recently performed at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, under the direction of UCLA Professor Emeritus, Donald Neuen.  A select group from this ensemble will be traveling to Ireland May 8-15 for an international concert series in Dublin, Kilkenney, Killarney, and Cork.


sjcc 2016It is the mission of the St. Joseph Community Chorus to foster the enjoyment and appreciation of quality choral music among its membership and the regional community by providing an organization of the highest caliber to present exceptional performances of choral literature. This ensemble is the largest all-volunteer performing organization in Northwest Missouri.

Founded in 1980, the St. Joseph Community Chorus, in partnership with Missouri Western State University, presents interesting, challenging and diverse programs of choral music from classical to contemporary throughout the Midwest region. The Chorus, open to all age groups high school and above, includes 85 singers that rehearse on Monday nights from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the Missouri Western State University Choir Room (Potter 112). Singers may join the Chorus at the beginning of each semester and may take the course for university credit if they choose.


Program Notes
Monty Carter, Program Annotator

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791):
Requiem in D Minor, K.626 (1791)

Her name was Anna. She was a countess, married to Franz von Walsegg, and the two lived in a castle near Gloggnitz, in Lower Austria. She was only twenty years old when she died, in February, 1791. Her grieving 28-year-old husband never remarried. A music enthusiast, the Count did a lovely thing for his late wife: he dedicated and conducted his own music setting of the Requiem mass in her honor.

Well, not quite. Actually he commissioned the piece, then passed it off as his own. Walsegg had done this for years. He wanted to be known as a great composer. He would commission a piece through a middle man, then present the new addition to “his” output in a private performance at his estate. Several of the composers he used knew what he was doing, but he paid good coin, so … whatever.

That the Count approached Mozart (through an emissary) to write the Requiem is a little odd, because Mozart was not known in Vienna for writing sacred music. But both Walsegg and Mozart were Freemasons, and Mozart did write cantatas for the Masonic lodge he attended. He definitely knew Count Walsegg, and probably the Countess as well, from gigs at their country home. (And it turns out that Anna and the daughter of Mozart’s sister-in-law had shared a stage as child actresses. Small world.)

In the fall of 1791, Mozart was in keep-em-comin’ mode, busy with commissions and turning out masterworks. Two of operas premiered in September alone: La Clemenza di Tito (“The Clemency of Titus”) in Prague, and Die Zauberflôte (“The Magic Flute”) in Vienna. His Clarinet Concerto debuted in October, and on November 18 he conducted a new cantata for his Masonic lodge. (He had begun work on the Requiem for Walsegg, but it was at the bottom of the stack.) If Mozart, at 35, could have seen into a crystal ball, reading a future account of his adventures in this exciting period, he would have had the shock of his life. For he would have encountered four specific words over and over again: “shortly before his death.”

Two days past the Freemason cantata, he caught the crud and stayed in bed. A lot of folks did; a viral epidemic had swept through Vienna. It was icky, to say the least: headache, fever, sweats and swelling, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, a rash and bad muscle pain. His 7-year-old son, Karl, said his dad couldn’t

even turn over in his bed. Most ominous were the alarming stench and his extreme irritability (they knew it was bad when Mozart banished his favorite canary from the bedroom). After two weeks, he went into convulsions, lapsed into a coma, and died.

What was the cause of death? Rumors range from a jealous husband poisoning him to Death itself commissioning the Requiem. And despite Peter Shaffer’s “Amadeus,” Antonio Salieri may have had some professional envy, but it was nowhere near dastardly. Modern physicians agree that Mozart’s symptoms, as described by his family and friends, suggest not foul play, but rheumatic fever, brought on by the bacteria associated with strep throat, which was plaguing the city at the time. Another suspect: trichinosis, a parasitic infection the composer may have obtained from eating sketchy pork.)

Constanze buried herself in their bed and clung inconsolably to the body of her husband until she was torn away. Shock of the death was met by panic over debt. She and the children desperately needed the fifty ducats promised for the Requiem, half of which had been paid up front. But of the dozen Requiem movements, only the opening Kyrie was completed. Mozart had set down various other vocal lines and bass parts, though, and while bedridden, he had spoken about and hummed other aspects to his student, Franz Xaver Süssmayr.

Constanze approached several of her husband’s colleagues for help finishing the work so that it could be delivered as Mozart’s own. That was asking a lot, and no one was comfortable setting down what wasn’t plainly outlined. Finally Constanze turned to Süssmayr, who did his best to honor his teacher’s intent. As scholars have have found it a challenge to discern between Mozart’s conception and Süssmayr’s completion, rest assured that Mozart’s genius and soul shine through.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93 (1812)

Can you imagine being a composer that people compare to Beethoven? How wonderful!

Are you kidding? Who wants that kind of pressure? If symphonic composition is a high jump, Beethoven is the horizontal bar. When Robert Schumann raved about Johannes Brahms by calling him “the next Beethoven,” he wasn’t doing Johannes any favors: it took Brahms twenty years to get a symphony written against the tramping tromps of the giant, as he referred to LVB.

Not even Beethoven liked being compared to Beethoven. Far be it from us to associate his symphonies with Star Trek movies, but it’s often been mentioned how AMAZING the odd-numbered ones are, and how, um, pleasant the even­ numbered ones are. To a friend in Vienna who noted that the Eighth lacked the popularity of the Seventh, Beethoven had a healthy response: “That’s because it is so much better,” he said (expletives deleted).

True genius is multifaceted. And Beethoven is true genius. You heard it here first, folks! (Yeah right.) As James M. Keller wrote, “The Eighth Symphony is one of the great monuments of musical humor – not throwaway silliness, but rather large-boned, bluff, down-to-the-roots humor.”

We open with a peal of laughter, then drop face to a benign tune. We let go of that, get a little stormy, then return straight to our opening, except that we’ve shoved the primary theme in our back pocket (in the bassoons and low strings, that is) while the rest of the orchestra bleats and blares over it. Grand epilogue, ok. Now for the slow movement. Let’s see … it was around here somewhere. Has anyone seen the slow movement? We’ll just turn on the metronome and wander around a little, shall we? And ponder. Ponderously. Shake our jowls a bit. Next is the scherzo, we think. No wait, that was the last movement. Was it? Hmm. How about a minuet? Ain’t it grand! Ain’t it … (Psst! Horns, trumpets, timpani: Get it together!) All right, y’all, let’s settle down for the finale. This is Beethoven; this is serious. This is … hilarious! Tickle-teasers and pile-drivin’ fun. Best of all: that brash, repressed concert C-sharp, pent up in each and every one of us since our days in middle-school strings and band class, makes its triumphant appearance at long last! (Key of F Major, get ready for a big dry-cleaning bill.) What a hoot.

This music was written during what was probably the most difficult year of Beethoven’s life. It is easy to think of him as placed on this earth for the express purpose of creating, as he himself put it, “music to help with the burdens of life and to help you release your happiness to others.” But the burdens of his own life – failure of relationships, family conflict, the impending complete loss of his hearing – brought, for a time, the man and his art to a standstill. And yet, the Eighth Symphony was written. And in years to come, so would be the Ninth.