Meet the President – Don Goldenbaum

Music has always been part of Don Goldenbaum’s life. Growing up in Hampton, Virginia, Don played clarinet in the high school band and studied violin privately with Elizabeth Chapman, concertmistress of a local community orchestra. Later, in college, he studied for a year with Dr. Myron Kartman, eventual chair of the strings program at Northwestern University.

The two summers before leaving for college, Don played professionally in the pit orchestra of The Common Glory, a nightly outdoor pageant in Williamsburg, VA. Those two season-long exposures to daily (nightly) life as a musician, performing as a teen with big-city pros whose lives appeared to revolve entirely around music, convinced him that for him the violin would be an avocation rather than a vocation.

Instead of pursuing a musical career, Don got a B.A. in psychology and math from Antioch and an M.A. in philosophy and Ph.D. in Educational Research from Indiana University. While attending Indiana’s grad school, though not as a conservatory student, he enjoyed accompanying flute and voice majors during their senior recitals on classical guitar.

Shortly after moving to Kansas City in 1975, Don served as principal second violin in the KC Civic Orchestra under Glen Block, and later, was concertmaster of the Overland Park Orchestra and the Medical Arts Symphony. He plays violin today in the Kinnor Philharmonic and plays viola in KCCO’s viola section. A high point of his current musical life involves teaming with three other members of KCCO to introduce stringed instruments and musical ideas to young children in local schools, hospitals, and libraries as part of the orchestra’s musical outreach program.

Having music as a serious hobby allows day-job flexibility. Don followed a stint as a Senior Systems Analyst at KC’s Midwest Research Institute by eventually launching and running a technical writing and documentation firm, Applied Communications Group, providing onsite, IT- and manufacturing-related writing services to Sprint, Marion Labs, Burlington Northern Railroad, Bayer Animal Health, and other firms. Other positions included Executive Director of Johnson County Community College’s Business and Industry Institute, Vice President for Research at the Greater KC Community Foundation, and Vice President of the Kansas City Regional Council for Higher Education. As a freelance consultant, he designed instructional board games on technical and management subjects that training firms used in their commercial seminars and evaluated federally-funded programs for local colleges. Currently, he is a national reviewer of research-grant proposals for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Now serving as co-president of KCCO’s board, his earlier community involvement has included being on the boards of The Children’s Place, Carondelet Healthcare, and The Center for Practical Bioethics.

Don and his wife, Sally – a novelist – have three children, Todd, Aria, and Daniel, and six grandchildren, all of whom live much too far from Kansas City.

Kansas City Civic Orchestra’s Debut Performance at Helzberg Hall

What a performance!  

Thank you to everyone who attended the concert yesterday! The venue was gorgeous, our Young Artist Concerto winner was amazing, and many attendees commented that it was the orchestra’s best performance of the season!

KCCO is proud to offer performances like these free of charge, but to continue doing so we do depend on support from our listeners. If you enjoyed yesterday’s performance (or any of our concerts this season) and are in a position to do so, please make a donation here or by texting CIVIC to 50155. Thank you!

Join us at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts!

Our final performance of the 2017-2018 season will take place at world-class venue Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. The concert will feature a performance by the winner of our Young Artist Concerto Competition (to be announced). We’re excited to play at this fantastic venue and to be able to provide a young musician with the opportunity, as well. We hope you’ll join us!

Helzberg Hall, Image courtesy of

Surround Sound in Helzberg Hall
Sunday, May 6th, 2018

Concert at 3:00 p.m.
Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Music Director: Chris Kelts


Roman Carnival Overture – Berlioz

Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64 – Mendelssohn
     Featuring Bethlehem Kelley, 2018 Young Artist Concerto Winner

Allegro molto appassianato


Symphony No. 5 – Tchaikovsky

Andante-Allegro conanima
Andante catabile
Valse: Allegro moderato
Finale: Andante maestoso-allegro vivace


KCCO Outreach – The Video

Take a look inside KCCO outreach events!

We love sharing stories, pictures, and feedback from our outreach events through social media and here on our site, and those posts give you a great peek inside our outreach programs. However, they don’t fully communicate everything that goes into our events or how it feels to attend them. Now, thanks to the video below, we’re able to do that!

In the video, masterfully produced by Sharon Steele, you’ll get an in-depth look at our outreach performances for schools. You’ll hear directly from our outreach coordinators why they do what they do and how they do it so effectively. (Hint: Audience participation is key!) And you’ll see for yourself the kinds of responses they get from the students they play for. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

What Music Means to Me

The final concert of our 59th season (taking place at Helzberg Hall on May 6th) will feature the winner of this year’s Young Artist Concerto Competition (Betti Kelley, left). KCCO is proud to support and encourage young musicians – not only because we believe in the importance of the arts in general and the value of learning to play an instrument, but also because involvement in music has been shown to have substantial benefits for students.

In addition to providing a skill that students can use throughout their lives, research has also identified a “strong relationship between sustained involvement in instrumental music … and high level math proficiency (view source),” that “successful music students tend to possess the qualities and skills that are generally considered essential to employers… (view source),” and that students who “participated in band, orchestra, chorus, or in a school play or musical were significantly less likely than non-participants to engage in problem behaviors… (view source).”

We’ve asked our KCCO musicians to share their stories of how music has affected and benefitted them throughout their lives, and we’re sharing those stories here. You will see that for many of our musicians (over 50 of them) the Youth Symphony played a big role in their development, and that is true for today’s young musicians as well – our Young Artist Concerto winner (Betti Kelley, right) is a member of the local Youth Symphony!

We’ll be adding more stories throughout the next several weeks, so check back often. We hope you’re as inspired by these stories as much as we are, and we look forward to seeing you at our May concert, “Surround Sound at Helzberg Hall!”

Click on the quotes to view the musicians’ full statements below.

[toggles] [toggle title=”Playing clarinet in the band kept me out of the clutches of the football coach, which doubtless explains why, six decades later, both knees and at least some grey matter remain intact. – A KCCO Orchestra Member”] Music has been a large and necessary part of my life, though always as an avocation. In high school, playing clarinet in the band kept me out of the clutches of the football coach, which doubtless explains why, six decades later, both knees and at least some grey matter remain intact. Back then, also a neophyte violinist, I joined a local community orchestra and encountered the surpassing experience of being a part of, while hearing, great music. In new cities, music helped me make friends who shared my love of playing chamber music.  Playing music for love while pursuing non-musical careers has been the best of both worlds.[/toggle] [/toggles]


[toggles] [toggle title=”Music has shown me that deep down we are all the same, and that a universal language does exist. – Devon Ray, Bass”] Music has the power to move a person between different realities: from a broken body into a soaring spirit, from a broken heart into the connection of shared love, from death into the memory and movement of life. It takes you into a story that no words can, moving you from one emotion to the next. It bridges the gaps language creates, across cultures and time, sharing the human experience like no other medium can. Music has shown me that deep down we are all the same, and that a universal language does exist. It has taken me from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs and been the greatest tool in choosing my path. The best part is it is free for everyone and we can share it with anyone.[/toggle] [/toggles]


[toggles] [toggle title=”Music is one of the few things in my life that I do that is just a part of me …it feeds a part of my soul. – Catherine Keating, Violin”] I started playing the violin at a very young age. As a child, music was my peer group. Most of my friends were in orchestra. I was a shy kid and didn’t really fit in with the “popular” kids. Music was one place where it didn’t seem to matter if you came from a rich family or were cool. Everyone in an orchestra is part of the accomplishment when you win a competition or just have an amazing performance. I learned to be confident in front of an audience. I learned that other people counted on me to pull my weight and everyone’s success was based on all of us working hard together. I learned a lot about responsibility not only to myself but to the group as a whole. When I was a Senior in high school we competed in the World Youth and Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. We practiced five days a week, even in the summer. We all worked hard to earn the money for everyone to go. You can’t just take part of the orchestra! It seemed like an impossible task, but we earned the money and we all went. We won first place, and it is still something I feel a lot of pride in. I still share that with everyone who went with me. After college I played in the Amarillo Symphony until my husband was transferred to Kansas City. Some of my first friends in KC were the people I connected with in the KC Civic Orchestra. I went on to have five children and people have asked me how I found time to keep playing. Music is one of the few things in my life that I do that is just a part of me. It is not about being a mom or a wife or anything else. I do it because it feeds a part of my soul. When things are hard or I have a tough day, it relaxes me. When I hear a piece of music I love it takes me away from everything else. Few things in life can be enjoyed for a lifetime and give us a way to connect, share and release stress. We are all connected by the love of the music. The love of music is a gift you can give a child that they can enjoy for a lifetime.[/toggle] [/toggles]



[toggles] [toggle title=”Music is my life; it brings a great sweep of emotions as I listen and perform. I share that with others… – Bruce Williams, Second Principle Violin”] I grew up with my Father being a music teacher, at the college level. I heard violin from the cradle. I, like my older brother, became a public school music teacher…orchestra director. Music is my life; it brings a great sweep of emotions as I listen and perform. I share that with others through performance, chamber music, and as a hospice volunteer.[/toggle] [/toggles]


KCCO Welcomes Board Member Mark Barone

We’re pleased to welcome Mr. Mark Barone as a member of KCCO’s Board of Directors. Mark was born and raised in the inner city of the Bronx and was the youngest of six children. Growing up, he was never exposed to orchestral music; he had to listen to the music other people wanted to hear. In addition, he says, they did not have good music programs in the New York Public Schools. Therefore, when he learned about the KCCO Instrument Petting Zoo, where children who are otherwise not exposed to classical instruments get the hands-on opportunity to touch and play them, he was extremely impressed.
Mark attended his first KCCO concert three years ago, in 2014. Even though he had lived in Kansas City since 2001, he “never knew such a gem existed.” Mark says he was amazed by the sound, quality, and professionalism of KCCO’s performances.

Mark has always been active in serving his community, and when he moved to Kansas City in 2001 he had the opportunity to serve as Executive Director of Christian Family Services (CFS), a licensed Christian Counseling and Adoptions Agency, for 12 years. CFS provided both international and domestic adoption services, licensed marriage and family counseling, as well as counseling for abused and neglected children.

In 2013, after his children finished high school, Mark took a position with Edward Jones Investments as a Financial Advisor. Now, he says, he gets to continue serving families by helping them face the challenges of retirement and planning for their future. He continues to support CFS, but was also eager to help support and increase the impact KCCO has on children and families through its various programs. Mark says he appreciates the opportunity to serve on the Board. “KCCO is truly making a difference in the lives of everyone involved, and has been for over 59 years.”

2018 Young Artist Concerto Competition Winner

Introducing Miss Bethlehem Kelley!

Bethlehem (Betti) Kelley is an Ethiopian-American violinist in the tenth-grade who resides in Johnson County. Betti studies with Kansas City Symphony Violinist Kristin Velicer. Prior that she studied with Alice Joy Lewis at Ottawa Suzuki Strings for eight years. One of Betti’s most cherished musical experiences has been attending the full scholarship Sphinx Performance Academy in the summers of 2015-2017. Last summer she also attended the highly competitive NYO2 Orchestral Program at Carnegie Hall, again on full scholarship, and she will return there in the summer of 2018. Locally, Betti plays in the Youth Symphony of Kansas City.

A proud member of Jack and Jill of America since age three, Betti spends time throughout the school year on leadership activities and community service projects in the Kansas City area. Betti’s favorite subjects in school are math and science. Her hobbies include reading and playing with her cat and dog.

We’re proud to recognize this talented young musician, as well as to feature her at our May 6th concert, “Surround Sound in Helzberg Hall.”

First Concert of 2018, “Orchestral Delights”

Our first concert of 2018 is coming up soon!

“Orchestral Delights” will feature guest conductor Jim Murray, who serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Northland Symphony Orchestra (Kansas City, MO), Heritage Philharmonic (Eastern Jackson County, MO) and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Kansas City, an ensemble that he founded in 1997.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Maestro Jim Murray

Classical Series: Orchestral Delights
Saturday, March 3rd, 2018
Pre-Concert Talk at 6:45 p.m.
Concert at 7:30 p.m.
Atonement Lutheran Church
Guest Conductor: Jim Murray


Symphonic Dances – Grieg
Dance No. 1: Allegro moderato e marcato
Dance No. 2: Allegretto grazioso
Dance No. 3: Allegro giocoso
Dance No. 4: Andante – Allegro risoluto

Karelia Suite, Opus 11 – Sibelius
Intermezzo. Moderato
Ballade. Tempo di menuetto
Alla marcia. Moderato

A Somerset Rhapsody – Holst

Overture to Nabucco – Verdi

Hello 2018!

We’d like to thank all of our friends and listeners for supporting KCCO through the first part of our 59th season. In addition to the three concerts, our 2017 activities included the Instrument Petting Zoo for children, the Silent Auction Fundraiser, and numerous outreach activities. (Below are hand-made cards from some of the students who enjoyed our outreach events.)








The orchestra is taking a short mid-season break during this cold start to 2018, but we’ll be back at it next month and we’re looking forward to seeing you at our March and May concerts.

Happy New Year!

Holiday Concerts Recap

Over the weekend the Kansas City Civic Orchestra kicked off the holiday season with two performances of our Sounds of the Season concert. Audience members were treated to holiday favorites as well as some less familiar pieces, got to sing along to Jingle Bells, enjoyed our guest conductors for the performances of Sleigh Ride (great job, Dylan and Charles!), and had the opportunity to bid on a variety of Silent Auction items. Thank you to all who attended! For those who weren’t able to attend, below is a short video and two audio samples of what you missed!




Sounds of the Season Holiday Concert

It’s that time of year!

Our holiday concert is one of our most popular performances each season. As always, there will be two performances of Sounds of the Season, with each performance preceded by our Annual Silent Auction Fundraiser. The silent auction is our biggest fundraiser of the year, so be ready to bid on some fantastic gift items (or a little something for yourself!).

Sounds of the Season

Friday, December 8 and Saturday, December 9
Silent auction at 6:30 p.m.
Concert at 7:30 p.m.
Atonement Lutheran Church
Music Director: Chris Kelts



piano painting for silent auction
Silent Auction Item – Painting

A selection of seasonal favorites, including:

Sleigh Ride – Anderson
  Featuring a guest conductor from our audience.

Festive Sounds of Chanukah – Holcomb

Fantasy on Greensleeves – Vaughn Williams

Troika from Lt. Kije – Anderson

Suite of Carols – Anderson