Symphony in the Flint Hills
Tonight was the 3rd Annual Symphony in the Flint Hills … However, the event actually began 14 years ago with the ’94 Symphony on the Prairie and the ’96 Brass on the Bluestem, both of which we attended.
In ’94, Chase County’s Jane Koger started this whole big crazy idea of bringing violins and horns and, well, the whole darned symphony out onto the tallgrass prairie.
The 5,000 tickets for the event sold out in four hours last winter. Add another 600 or so volunteers and support staff and you’ve got around 6,000 people enjoying a perfect spring evening in the Flint Hills.
There was just the right amount of wind, not enough to be annoying, but a good breeze to keep things cool. And I didn’t see any mosquitoes.
The music started about 6:45 and the sun was bright and in our faces. Cathy Hoy of Emporia, the chairman of the board for the event, gave the welcome and thank yous.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius also talked briefly, mentioning “our neighbors in Chapman and Soldier and Manhattan” who experienced devastating tornadoes Wednesday night.
Gov. Sebelius spoke of the treasure that we have in the Flint Hills and promoted it to the crowd. “If this is your first visit, don’t let it be your last,” she said.
Along the walking trail from the parking lot to the site (1/2 mile?), cowboys and cowgirls were standing watch.
On the way in, we stopped to say howdy to Emily Hunter, the event coordinator. She briefly mentioned the 2009 Symphony which will be held on private land near Florence. “Next year, it’s going to be in the world’s most beautiful place, no joke.”
Of course, in the Flint Hills, every place is beautiful.
Annie Wilson of Elmdale plays beautiful music with her band, the Tallgrass Express String Band.
Thanks to the miracle of cell phones, we were able to find our dear friend from Ellsworth, Peg Britton. Her daughter Ally snapped this shot.
Peg and I write back and forth and read each other’s blogs, but it’s always nice to visit in person! She came to the symphony with Ally, son Todd, and daughter-in-law Karen. It was fun to see them all.
There were tents set up for various things – talks about cowboys, wildflowers, birds, geology, archaelogy, history. There were telescopes set up for viewing stars for anyone who wanted to stay after dark (a clear sky!)
Above and below are paintings in a silent auction.
There was barbecue dinners for sale. In the green shirt serving is volunteer Sue Blechl, director of the Emporia Public Library.
Oh yeah, wagon rides. This event was held a mile south of Council Grove on North Lakeview Pasture in Morris County. Council Grove, as you well know, was an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail.
And, the show began, starring the Kansas City Symphony conducted by Damon Gupton.
Great music for the setting: Beetoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, op. 68, “Pastoral,” I. Awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the country: Allegro ma non troppo; V. Shepherd’s Song – Happy, grateful feelings after the storm: Allegretto.
Another piece was from Copland’s “The Tender Land,” III. The Promise of Living.
Nope, they didn’t mow. It was natural. We sat our chairs in the middle of the knee-high wildflowers. I didn’t see any chiggers either.
Another gorgeous evening in the Flint Hills.