In Memorium – Carl James

KCCO recently lost a friend and long-time supporter of the orchestra, Carl James.

Carl Ray James, 92, of Kansas City, passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 12, 2020.

Carl was born on July 3, 1928 to Glendon Otis and Martha Anna (Stone) James in Kansas City, MO. While working for the Dictaphone Company, Carl met Frances Marie Smith. They were married on November 1, 1953 at Roanoke Methodist church by Frances’ father, the Rev. J. Roy Smith. Carl is survived by his sons, David (MaryAnn), Donald (Lorinda), and his three grandchildren, Jordan, Nicolas, and Anna.

As a young man, Carl served in the US Air Force, stationed in South America. After marrying Frances, they operated their own typesetting and slide presentation business, Commercial Photocomposition, in midtown Kansas City. Carl enjoyed continually learning new technology as their industry evolved over the decades.

Carl and Frances were active members of Broadway United Methodist church. Carl was appointed leader of the Pathfinders Sunday school. It was a position which he was proud of and referred to himself as their “Benevolent Dictator”. He was also active in the OK Klub, a social group within the church, and once helped produce, with some of his lifelong friends, a comedic film as entertainment at their Christmas dinner.

When his children were young, he enjoyed family camping vacations to Rocky Mountain NP, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. He also loved the time he spent with his family and friends at a small yellow house on Table Rock Lake. It was at the lake house that he started the tradition of cooking buckwheat pancake breakfasts for all the relatives and friends, and the little house became known as the YHOP, “Yellow House of Pancakes.”

Carl was a self-taught musician and had a great love of music. He and Frances attended the very first concert of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, and later in life became involved the orchestra as a board member and ardent supporter.

Carl was very loyal and dedicated to his friends. He participated in a monthly poker game with the same group of friends for nearly 60 years. He also enjoyed competitive arguing with his mother in law’s brother, Harold. He was proud that he lived to the age of 92 so Harold couldn’t beat him at longevity. Many people will remember Carl for his nearly monthly newsletter which he called “Random Thoughts” and also his love of dark chocolate.

Carl was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Glendon, his sister Naomi, a half-brother Bill, and his wife of 63 years, Frances.

There will be a memorial service celebrating Carl’s life when we can safely gather again.

Memorial contributions may be made online or mailed to:

Kansas City Civic Orchestra
PO Box 224
Shawnee Mission, KS 66201

Penwell-Gabel – Planning Center (913-232-7334) is assisting the family.

COVID 19 Response – Letter from the Music Director

April 15, 2020

Dear Kansas City Civic Orchestra Patrons,

We are living in strange times, to say the least.  Never before in our nearly 63 seasons has the Civic Orchestra had to cancel part of a concert season, but with great reluctance – and a strong sense of responsibility – the Board of Directors and I have made the decision to cancel the remainder of our 2019-2020 season.  This, unfortunately, includes canceling the Saturday, April 25, 2020 concert at Helzberg Hall.

Like many orchestras around the country and the world, we are looking forward to our 2020-2021 season and are already in the exciting stages of planning the next set of concerts.  We will be offering a concert tribute to Ludwig Van Beethoven and his 250th birthday year.  We will also have two family weekend concerts: our November Pops and family concert, which will include our fabulous instrument petting zoo educational outreach program, and our Sounds of the Season performances in December, which will bring 2020 to a festive close.  We will top off our 63rd season of wonderful music with a performance at Helzberg Hall on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 3:00pm.  This concert will feature our 2020 Carol Chatelain Young Artist as well as our 2021 winner (to be chosen).

The Kansas City Civic Orchestra’s free admission to concerts is a deeply rooted tradition, and it is only possible thanks to you, our supporters. We are always very touched by the amount of generosity you offer by giving annually, at concerts, or through sponsorships to help us meet our capital funding needs.  Just as everyone is working to meet budgets in this difficult time, the Civic Orchestra is also working to balance its remaining budget for the current season.* We thank you for your continued support and for your inspiring passion for the Civic Orchestra!

To say we are excited to get back to rehearsing together and preparing concerts, and that we are looking forward to offering high quality and inspiring concerts to the Greater Kansas City community once again, is an understatement.  With hope and excitement we look towards our 2020-2021 season.

With thanks and sincerity,

 

 

Christopher Kelts, music director

Cc: Board of Directors

* Due to the passing of the CARES Act, donors can deduct up to $300 above the Federal Standard Deduction for donations made to a non-profit organization such as the Kansas City Civic Orchestra. Click here to support KCCO today.

KCCO’s Original Concert Master, Dale Bryan

The Kansas City Civic Orchestra was saddened to hear of the passing of our first concertmaster, Dale M. Bryan.

Dale, a violin player, served as concertmaster from 1959 – the year of our founding – through 1966. Dale was a native of Kansas City. He graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1942. One of the accomplishments of which he was most proud was being selected concertmaster of the Kansas all-state high school orchestra festival at Emporia both his junior and senior years. It was on this return drive from Emporia his senior year that Dale learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Navy during and after World War II.

Dale Bryan appears in this photo from 1959, along with our founder Hugo Vianello.

Dale held a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas City and a Master of Arts degree in education from UMKC. He taught in the public schools of Smithville, North Kansas City, and Park Hill High School, where he initiated the first program of stringed instrument instruction. He left Park Hill to join the music faculty at what was then Park College. In addition to serving as KCCO’s first concert master Dale was also the original concert master of the Northland Symphony. In later years he was employed in various capacities at the Kansas City Public library. Following his retirement he spent his time in private teaching, taking care of his house and grounds, and volunteering at St. Luke’s Northland Hospital.

Dale Bryan with violin

Dale continued to play his violin until the last few years of his life. The photo at left was taken within the last few months and shows Dale with his violin – the same one he played during his time with KCCO.

Our thoughts are with Dale’s family as we mourn the loss of our fellow music lover and key figure in KCCO’s history.

You can read Dale’s complete obituary here. KCCO is grateful to David McLane Bryan, Dale’s son, for providing the recent photo of Dale and for informing us of his passing.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

KCCO Welcomes Return of Conductor Christopher Kelts

The Kansas City Civic Orchestra is pleased to welcome conductor Christopher Kelts back to the position of Music Director. After serving with KCCO for seven and a half years, Kelts resigned from the organization in December 2015 after accepting the position of Director of Orchestral Studies at Missouri State University (Springfield, MO).

“It was an exciting opportunity for me,” he said, “but I realized that the responsibilities of the new position might impact my ability to serve KCCO appropriately. Therefore, I chose to step down while I acclimated to my new role.”

Between December 2015 and May 2017 KCCO enjoyed a successful 58th season performing under the baton of five guest conductors. As Kelts noted, this gave the orchestra a chance to experience artistic diversity, strengthen its musical talents, and expand its adaptability. The orchestra also hosted outstanding guest artists, featured the winners of its annual Young Artist Concerto Competition, and continued to grow its outreach efforts.

After an extensive search for the right candidate to serve as music director, the orchestra and Board of Directors explored the possibility of having Kelts return to the position. Fortunately, he was happy to reengage with KCCO. “I want to keep the orchestra on a path of strengthening its artistic and musical performance, expanding educational outreach, and continuing to build the audience community that shows us such amazing support,” he said.

Kelts will kick off his return on July 1st, 2017 and will begin by planning the 2017-2018 concert season. “We are back at it, even in the off months. There are auditions to plan, repertoires and artists to solidify,” he said. “The Kansas City Civic Orchestra is nearing its 60th year of offering quality concerts to the greater Kansas City community. We have a lot to be proud of, and I’m excited to be part of it.”

Information on the 2017-2018 season, including audition and concert dates, will be announced this summer.

Musician Spotlight – Mark Lauer, Bassoon

Mark Lauer is a graduate of the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. (B.M Performance 2015) He is currently completing a Performer’s Certificate at UMKC while maintaining an active performance schedule as the principal bassoonist with the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, and the newly formed Southside Philharmonic (Jefferson City, Mo). In addition Mark is also a frequent performer with the Midwest Chamber Ensemble and Classical Revolution KC. Mark has performed with The Missouri Symphony Orchestra, The Arkansas Philharmonic, The symphony of Northwest Arkansas and The Black House Collective. He has also held positions with The Heritage Philharmonic (Independence, Mo) and the Jefferson City Symphony Orchestra. Mark has spent two summers playing in the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra in Branson, Missouri.

In 2015 Mark was a winner of the Kansas City Musical Clubs Scholarship competition, received an honorable mention at the SAI Scholarship competition and was a Finalist in the UMKC Concerto Aria competition performing Carl Maria von Weber’s Concerto for Bassoon. Mark is a two time Runner up at the Missouri Music Teachers Association state collegiate competition (2013, 2014). Mark has collaborated with several local Kansas City Performers and appears on the albums “Kamikaze” (Claire and the Crowded Stage), “In the Blue” (Claire and the Classical revolution) and “Moons and Meltdowns” (Teri Quinn).

In 2016 Mark was awarded an Inspiration Grant from Arts KC, Kansas City’s regional arts council, to fund the release of his debut album, “Muses and Mavericks”. The album features five new works written by Kansas City composers and is set to be released in May of 2017.

Mark has studied bassoon with Marita Abner and Dr. Steven Houser.

4th Annual Silent Auction

Join in the fun and excitement of our Fourth Annual Silent Auction. The tables full of goodies and unique gifts will be waiting for your bid in the foyer during an extended intermission at our upcoming Sounds of the Season Concert on Dec. 11.

All proceeds raised by the auction will be used to support the orchestra’s free concerts and your donation is tax deductible.

The orchestra has been hard at work putting together baskets which include:

  • Pamper yourself
  • The Best of Kansas City
  • Family Fun Night
  • Coffee and Treats
  • Christmas Baking
  • Cook’s Paradise
  • And much more!

Spiritfest 2003

Kansas City Civic Orchestra performed July 4, 2003 at Spiritfest in Liberty Memorial Park. Fireworks.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QylJv2qwCDg

We accompanied Dennis DeYoung (former lead singer of STYX) before 20,000 screaming fans.