Pembroke Hill’s early childhood and kindergarten music teacher Victoria Botero continues to be an influential member of the Kansas City arts community.
She created the Cecilia Series, in which she presents and performs in critically acclaimed concerts that explore the intersectionality of art music and the everyday concerns of women and minorities.
For each of the Cecilia Series events, Victoria organizes the concert, chooses the music, hires the musicians and performs. Victoria, who is a classically trained soprano, explained that she determines the subject of the performances by following “an idea where it leads me. I use my background in musicology to produces chamber music concerts in Kansas City and beyond that focus on the contributions of women in music.”
The third performance in the series, The Music of Susan Kander, is Friday, Jan. 25, and will celebrate the music of Susan Kander ’75, an internationally lauded composer. It will begin at 7:30 p.m., at the 1900 Building (on State Line Road, directly west of the Pembroke Hill Ward Parkway Campus). “Never before have so many of Susan’s compositions been performed in the city where she was raised,” Victoria said.
Victoria’s first Cecilia Series event was La Serenissima, which featured her performing the music of Baroque composer Barbara Strozzi. In the second concert, Morena, Victoria performed the traditional music and intertwined history of Sephardic Jewish, Arabic Muslim and Armenian Christian women. “That concert,” Victoria said, “celebrated the common thread that connects us all.”
Victoria earned her undergraduate degree in vocal performance from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She then attended UMKC, from where she holds two master’s degrees: one in musicology and one in vocal performance. She joined Pembroke Hill this fall to teach music to Pembroke Hill’s youngest students.
“I love teaching the artistic process and its applications to my students,” Victoria said. “These children, age 2 – 5 years, are the original artists. As adults, we are all trying to get back to where they are with their creativity. They are so inspiring!”
Concertgoers to the Friday event will enjoy four of Susan’s works: A Garden’s Time Piece, The Littlest Refugees, the world premiere of Eavesdropping, and the Kansas City premiere of dwb*driving while black*.
Victoria will perform on A Garden’s Time Piece, along with Eavesdropping, which is based on poems by the late Kansas City poet Michelle Boisseau. The music was specifically commissioned for Victoria.
The final selection of the evening, dwb*driving while black*, is a one-woman opera with an autobiographical libretto and performance by soprano Roberta Gumbel, mother of Rapheal Prevot ’18. In it, Roberta reflects on her experience raising her son up to the time when she must give him the keys to drive. (dwb will also be performed at St. James United Methodist Church on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 1 p.m.)
A performer-audience talk will conclude the evening.
As Victoria reflected on the success of the Cecilia Series (the first two concerts were packed), she said, “Wow, it has been incredible. I am very grateful. Kansas City is an amazing city that really supports the arts.”