Fifteen years ago, music lovers in Lee’s Summit were thrilled to attend the inaugural concert of the Lee’s Summit Symphony in the Show Barn at Longview Farm. Founded by conductor Russ Berlin and the late Phyllis Hamilton, the orchestra’s goals included providing beautiful orchestral concerts and offering an outlet for outstanding musicians to continue playing even though they may have chosen other professions. Many of the original and current members were past students of Berlin via the R-7 school district.
Earlier this month the orchestra gave its inaugural concert of the 2018-19 season in its new home, The Pavilion at John Knox Village. An enthusiastic, near-capacity crowd of music lovers gave a resounding “thumbs up” for the experience. For the past 14 years, the Performing Arts Center at Lee’s Summit High School was a serviceable facility for concerts, and the Board of Directors expressed its gratitude for the district’s hospitality. However, surveys of concertgoers showed a desire for a facility that would accommodate adult beverages and sponsored tables, and certain concerts required a larger facility.
The change might be akin to the Kansas City Symphony’s move to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts; it’s just a better total concert experience.
In her pre-concert comments, Dr. Carrie Turner noted that the entire program would be music composed within the last 90 years. Dr. Turner, principal violist, also made comments during the program, which began under the baton of Russ Berlin with Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide” and three movements of Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite.”
After intermission, Associate Conductor Kirt Mosier directed his own composition, “Crossroads Fanfare”, plus an engaging double violin concerto featuring Dr. John Rutland and Erik Hassell and an energetic performance of music from the popular “West Side Story” in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the great Leonard Bernstein’s birth, as well as a nod to the orchestra’s move further to the west side of the city.
Rumors of a secret encore were correct. After a lengthy standing ovation, Mosier led the orchestra in an original tribute to the late Aretha Franklin featuring Isaac Cates and Megan Smith of the nationally-known recording group, Isaac Cates and Ordained. The evening ended with another standing ovation!
Thanks to executive directors Bob and Candy White, the grand opening at the new venue went smoothly and 100% of survey respondents said they will definitely return for the December 15th concert, “Christmas in the Village.” Won’t you join them and “experience the sound” of the Lee’s Summit Symphony? This concert will definitely be a sellout, so get tickets online at lssymphony.org, or at the local ticket outlets after October 29th.