Sunday, July 30, 2017

KC VITAs 2017 Summer Series

I had the great privilege of meeting Jackson Thomas, Director and Founder of KC VITAs, last year for an interview in advance of their Summer Series performances. So here we are a year later, and KC VITAs is still going strong under Jackson's leadership. I checked in with him this week to see what he's been up to and to find out more about the 2017 Summer Series performances next weekend.

 I can’t believe it’s been a year since we’ve talked! Where does the time go?  But I am so happy that it’s just about time for the next KC VITAs Summer Series performances. What have you been up to during the past year when we spoke?

Thanks so much for speaking with me again, Tim! We’ve been incredibly busy trying to reach more people and become more present in the community. This past year, we held a December Gala event where we featured small ensemble and solo works by a couple of regional and international composers. We also have improved our submission process to streamline how composers can submit their works to us, as well as reach more composers. Since then, we have been going full steam on making this the best Summer Series yet!

Tell me about this year’s KC VITAs program.

We received 150 blind submissions of art song, small ensemble, and choral works by composers from all around the world. Ten were picked from that, five of which are world premieres and five are regional premieres. These compositions make up our most diverse program to date by far. We have two performances this year, one on Aug. 4th at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at 7:00, and another on Aug. 6th at Country Club Christian Church at 3:00. We are continuing to follow our mission and offer these concerts for free!

Did this program come together easily or were there any challenges of note?

Because of the sheer amount of submissions we received, it was an even greater puzzle to finalize this year’s program. Each composition must be considered (sometimes several times) which, as you can imagine is incredibly time consuming. Then, when trying to pick from such high quality pieces and figure out the best way to make them work together, the final decisions are very hard to make. There could have been several programs made from the compositions that made it to the final round.

 If I’m not mistaken, all of the music is original, correct?

We do have a couple compositions this year that are based on preexisting music. One is based on chant, while the other is based on a hymn. The ending product, however, is incredibly original as the compositions have deconstructed and revitalized the original material into something totally new.

Will any of the composers be attending this year’s performances?

As many of the composers live quite a large distance away from Kansas City (several of whom live across the pond) the amount of composers able to attend this year is still unknown. We will be taping this year’s performances, though, and have been skyping in with composers to collaborate on bringing their piece to life.

How many new singers do you have this year? How many are returning from last year?

29 total, 18 are returning from previous years. Many of the returning members have been with us since the beginning.

What is the thought or reason for having two different venues for each performance? Why not have both at the same place?

We’d  like to have the opportunity to reach as many people in the city as possible. By offering locations downtown and one further south, we are hoping to provide a place convenient to reach from anywhere in the area. We also want to bring our music to the many wonderful venues that Kansas City has to offer. Although they each present their challenges, we are able to discover new things about each piece whenever we sing in a new space.

 Where did you have the recording session I saw posted on the Facebook Page?

We took a huge step for our organization this year and recorded all of our music beforehand. This way, we are able to provide composers with a much higher quality recording in addition to the live recording from our concerts. We were lucky enough to record at Swarthout Recital Hall on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, KS and had a great experience!

 Tell us a bit about what was recorded and when it will be available?

We recorded our entire program and our CD will be available for purchase at both of our concerts! It’s been a busy few weeks, to say the least!Thanks so much for your help in promoting our concerts and organization as a whole! Just a reminder, KC VITAs is a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations made in support of our organization are tax-deductible and help to continue our mission to promote the continued creation and performance of contemporary-classical vocal music. We will be working on becoming even more present during the year in the time to come with many exciting ideas in the works!

Excellent. Thank you Jackson! I am really looking forward to the concert. And thank you for your commitment to bringing great music to our community!

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