Over the last 25 years, Summerfest Concerts has entertained and enriched the Kansas City arts community in unique, important and significant ways. Though the organization has changed in many ways, its core values remain the same and can be reflected clearly in this Silver Anniversary Season: Rediscovery & Celebration.
In 1990, contemplating the year ahead, the Kansas City Symphony’s second flutist, Lamar Hunt, Jr., (son of entrepreneur and KC Chiefs’ owner, Lamar Hunt) realized a void in the Kansas City arts community through the summer months. He realized many colleagues would travel out of state to continue working and making music through the off- season. Additionally, there was little to no opportunity through the summer to hear live classical music. He began to formulate a plan that would provide that opportunity for himself, and his peers. After discussing with several area musicians and friends, the first Summerfest Chamber Music group was formed:
Lamar Hunt, Jr. – Flute
Mary Garcia (Grant) – violin
Rebecca Bell – harpsichord
Debora Wells Clark – harp
Nancy Lutes – Bassoon
Equipped with their superior talent, excitement for chamber music, and energy to create, this group did a casual series of concerts in suburban Kansas City area churches. And the rest, as they say, is history!
After becoming officially incorporated in the spring of 1991, preparations for the summer concert series began. An important relationship was established with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (Kansas City) where Summefest concerts would be played for years to come. By 1995, the organization had established an effective and lasting formula for future success. There was a working board, fundraising and marketing efforts throughout the year, and a focus on making these concerts and this music accessible to all. Receptions followed each concert in order to allow patrons to interact and provide feedback directly to musicians. Friendships were formed, faces became familiar, audiences continued to grow. And the music just got better and better!
By 1995, the core group of musicians had grown to 12:
Nancy Beckmann – violin
Jane Carl – clarinet
Rhonda Bronicke – cello
Victoria Hagood Olson – viola
Marion Arthur – oboe
Michael Murray – cello
Melissa Rose – piano
By adding these instruments, the Summerfest repertoire was able to expand into an interesting and important mix of programming; well- known pieces and lesser known works in addition to unique instrument couplings. Summerfest’s ability to introduce audiences to both experiences of chamber music in the intimate and acoustically pleasing settings has become trademark.
Over the last 25 years, though leadership and personnel have changed, Summefest has never lost site of its original intentions. Our music provides a rare opportunity for the classical music experience during the summer months. We continue to program innovative and unique concerts in which our patrons can expect the unexpected. We work to make the music accessible through outreach efforts with youth and seniors. Always looking for ways to share their talent and expertise, Summerfest musicians have and will continue to contribute opportunity and experience to the Kansas City area communities. The organization has recorded (1992), collaborated with other arts institutions such as The Kemper Museum, and performed multiple outreach events with schools and retirement communities such as Acadamie Lafayette, and the Jack and Jill Club.
It is with great joy and appreciation for past success that we rediscover, and with hopeful anticipation we celebrate Summerfest Concerts!