Pianist Jim Brickman Joins the Kansas City Symphony for Holiday Show

Concert benefits The Mission Project and First Downs.

Brickman-2Researchers are saying more and more that the holidays are nostalgic because of the relationships and connections with others. People find their sense of belonging heightened during the holidays and this is considered one benefit of personal nostalgia. Those feelings are important to pianist and songwriter Jim Brickman. He brings his show, On a Winter’s Night, to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Dec. 7.

Brickman says Christmas has a way of offering healing, inspiration and hope. “My music just lends itself to the holidays. It’s about warmth, comfort and relationships,” he says. “They can do that in a number of important ways, we have been talking about continuity or grounding, one of the ways individuals ground themselves is in terms of who they are relative to other people. In other words, we define ourselves in terms of our relationships, in terms of how we are connected to other people, that helps us identify our sense of self, and nostalgia helps us maintain those connections and a sense of belonging.”

The concert benefits The Mission Project and First Downs for Down Syndrome. Brickman has connections with Autism Speaks in Cleveland, Ohio. “The opportunities such as the Kansas City organizations are important. The effort is to bring awareness to the Mission Project and First Downs and what better venue than in a concert. It is important for me to be part of organizations that aid kids.” First Downs a non-profit organization that teams with the Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Line to raise money for Down Syndrome organizations while raising awareness that creates positive images of those with Down Syndrome.

The Mission Project past president Bob Randall says the organization stated in 2004 to aid young adults with autism and other developmental challenges. “Once high school is done, our children are displaced. We want our children to be fulfilled, to socialize, and work. Our kids are independent, living in an apartment complex down the hall from the friends.” Randall’s daughter Kelly works as an office assistant at Children’s Mercy.

MP-Logo-Tagline1The program is situated in Mission, Kan. Participants can use nearby shopping and the Sylvester Powell Community Center.  “We are parents who want to see our children succeed.” So last year, the group found the Texas Tenors and a receptive group in the Kansas City Symphony. “The Kauffman Center had just opened so there was a great deal of curiosity. We pulled off that first benefit and have jumped into this second one,” Randall says. “The Symphony came up with Jim Brickman and we are so excited because of his support of groups similar to ours.”

With the benefit concert proceeds, the Mission Project board hopes to expand the program, find a local office with a conference room large enough for the participants and families. Plus the hope is to replicate the program in other areas of the metropolitan area. Funding can also be used for a development director and other programming activities such as ballroom dancing, going to the movies. “We share a common need to promote a better lifestyle for our children, whether it’s with us at the Mission Project or with First Downs. We are visible in the community. We help maintain a small park and the young adults attend educational classes.”

For about 10 years now, Brickman has teamed with symphonies. “I would say I perform four to six shows a year with a larger ensemble. It’s not a lot of shows, but it’s enjoyable for me as a performer. It also provides the audience to see a different experience with the symphony. Personally, I would say my songwriting lends itself to symphonic bands with soaring strings and all the emotion and beauty. It’s a fit … a lovely complement.”  This show teams Brickman with the Kansas City Symphony.

“If someone is a fan and as many times as I have played Kansas City, I know I have to deliver a certain expectation with some familiar favorites while adding in fresh pieces. The core of my show, no matter if it’s Christmas or not, is to draw people in. I want that connection with the audience. I want to hit all the emotions. I understand that an evening of entertainment is an investment. It is meant to be an escape. I know that this is a symphony concert, but it is not high-brow. In my music, I am a storyteller fundamentally so there is a comfortable natured created.”

Brickman says Kansas City was one of his first tour stops in 1994.  He has since performed at the Midland, Folly and Starlight. He appreciates a city that cultivates the arts. “Kansas Citians embrace my music and I am so thankful for that loyalty. I want my shows to be uplifting and hopeful. I want to say thanks and offer an experience that is meant to be an antidote to the chaos that sweeps in often during the holidays. I want an audience to escape to a fun, emotional night that is appropriate for a family. I want folks to be appreciative of live music and a guy who is playing a real instrument.”

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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