2019 Instrument Petting Zoo

Our annual Instrument Petting Zoo helps foster an appreciation for music by introducing children to different instruments and even giving them the chance to try playing them. This year’s participants also got to hear a few riffs from some of our talented orchestra members!

The Petting Zoo takes place before our November concert matinee performance. It is free and open to the public.





































Musician Spotlight – Carol Chatelain, Violin

Saturday June 9th marked an incredibly sad day for us at KCCO. We lost our dear friend and concertmaster of 43 years, Carol Chatelain.

Carol loved the orchestra and was an inspiration to so many of us. We were truly fortunate to have had her among us for so many years, and we will miss her terribly. 

In the words of our Music Director, Chris Kelts,​ “May the memory of Carol Chatelain be a blessing.”

Carol Chatelain has been a member of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra since 1972 and has served as its concertmaster since 1975. She has also been a member of the orchestra’s board for more than 30 years.

A native of Lewis, Kan., Chatelain is a graduate of Kansas University, where she received bachelor’s degrees in violin performance and music education, and a master’s degree in music education. She taught music in public schools for 31 years, retiring from the Shawnee Mission school district in 1994. Chatelain’s other musical activities include playing with the Kinnor Philharmonic Orchestra and the Harvest String Quartet, with which she has played for over 30 years. She has also been a member of the Overland Park Orchestra, St. Joseph Symphony, Heritage Symphony, Northland Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Medical Arts Symphony.

Carol is married to Richard (Dick) Chatelain, who plays tuba with KCCO, and she has two daughters and one grandson. Carol and Dick are season ticket holders for the Kansas City Symphony, avid KU basketball fans, and proud parents of a miniature dachshund named Heidi. Carol says the Kansas City Civic Orchestra has been a big part of her life and the source of many friendships. “I hope I have many more notes to play with them,” Carol says.

Musician Spotlight – Janice White, Cello

Janice White has been a music-lover all her life. As a young child she enjoyed singing. In third grade she began playing piano, and later she became a clarinet player in her school band. At home, she says, she “drove everyone nuts” playing orchestral music on the record player and practicing for performances.

In 8th grade Janice attended Old Mission Junior High. Old Mission was a newer school and was fortunate to have a range of new instruments available for students, including some that no student was yet able to play. Because her music teacher determined that her hands had a large enough spread for the job, Janice volunteered to take up playing bass (after just a moment of hesitation when she realized how big it was!).

Janice’s musical endeavors included not only school performances, but also performances with the Youth Symphony. It was the first year of the Symphony’s operation, and Janice had friends from music camp who were playing with the group. She learned that they were in need of a bass player, so she auditioned and was asked to join. The Youth Symphony included players from all across the metro. They played symphonies and other pieces, had a concerto competition, and played four concerts per year at local high schools and at the KC Music Hall at Municipal Auditorium. Janice says the symphony gave her the opportunity to enjoy a “higher level of playing.”

In college Janice added another instrument to her arsenal when she took up playing the cello. Then, in a world where women’s options were limited to being a teacher, nurse, or secretary, she chose to become a teacher as that profession aligned most closely with her love of music. She taught junior high orchestra, high school band, choir, and music theory.

Janice has now been teaching piano in the Kansas City area for 54 years; she has taught the children and grandchildren of some of her students! She also teaches cello and has taught clarinet, guitar, and bagpipes (but only the chanter!). She first joined the Kansas City Civic Orchestra in 1967. In 1973 she took a hiatus when her first child was born, then returned to KCCO in 1987.

In addition to serving as her vocation, music has afforded Janice the opportunity to perform in many different venues, learn different kinds of music, and meet a large, diverse group of friends. Janice can’t remember – or imagine – ever not having music in her life.

November Concert and Petting Zoo Recap

We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout for our second concert of the 2017-2018 season and our Fourth Annual Instrument Petting Zoo!

Our Friday night concert was well attended – a packed house! After a performance by talented young musicians from the Heartland School of the Violin, KCCO took the stage and treated the audience to a lively, patriotic repertoire that had everyone tapping their toes. (Hear a sample here.) We were also honored to have several veterans attend and stand to be recognized as the orchestra played songs representing each of the armed forces.

Saturday’s Petting Zoo was also a huge success. This year we introduced “passports” that provided brief information about the instruments featured at the zoo and which the attendees could get stamped at each instrument station that they visited. They were a hit! Instruments for the zoo were provided by Band of Angels.



The matinee performance of The American Sound provided a slightly abbreviated version of the Friday evening concert and was also very well attended.

Our next performances will be our holiday concerts on December 8th and 9th – Sounds of the Season!


Instrument Petting Zoo and “The American Sound” Concert

Fourth Annual Instrument Petting Zoo

Our Instrument Petting Zoo for children has grown each year, and we expect this year to be better than ever! This year’s event will take place on Saturday, November 11 at 1:00 p.m. The Petting Zoo gives kids the opportunity to learn about, touch, and play a wide variety of instruments.

Special thanks to Band of Angels for donating the instruments for this event.


The American Sound

Friday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 11 at 2:00 p.m. (preceded by Petting Zoo)
Atonement Lutheran Church
Dr. Chris Kelts, Conductor
Robert Carney, Piano


America the Beautiful

The Star-Spangled Banner

Symphony No. 9 “New World” (mvt. 2)

Stars and Stripes Forever

Washington Post March

An Outdoor Overture

Rhapsody in Blue
Featuring guest soloist Dr. Robert Carney, piano


KCCO Outreach Activities Update (Summer 2017)

April was a busy month for KCCO’s Don Goldenbaum and Jennifer Mitchell as they performed for and interacted with 245 elementary students at three local schools: Sunflower Elementary School in Shawnee Mission and, in Missouri, the Woodland Early Learning Center and Scuola Vita Nuova.

Don and Jennifer’s school program includes a free, 30-45 minute violin/viola demo in which they explain differences between the two instruments and play kid-friendly selections. In addition, they have recently added a new “Seeing the Symphony” section that gives young students a behind-the-scenes look at how an orchestra works. During this part of the program they illustrate what conductors and concertmasters do, explain why there are more instruments of some kinds onstage than of others, and talk about how symphony concerts differ from other kinds of performances.

Both sections of the school sessions are highly interactive. They include playing lots of “kid friendly” tunes, such as some familiar classical and movie themes, as well as accompanying students as they sing songs they know, and giving each child a chance to help play one of the instruments and/or conduct as Jennifer and Don play.

Contact KCCO if you would like to invite Don and Jennifer to play for your students (at no charge to your school).

The quality of cultural involvement that Jennifer provides our individuals is out of this world and far beyond our expectations of what musical inclusion should look like. – Tiffany Hanna, Johnson County Developmental Supports

In addition to these youth-focused programs, Jennifer also performs regularly at six adult residential care facilities for adults with particular physical and mental needs. In 2016 alone, she played 66 such solo sessions at over a dozen different local care facilities. Many of her volunteer sessions are for Alzheimer’s patients. For those who are no longer able to carry on a conversation or answer simple questions, sometimes music is the only voice left to them. Their faces light up when they recognize what they’re hearing, and they can often sing the words of old familiar tunes!

Learn more about our outreach programs here, or contact us for more information or to schedule an outreach event.


Musician Spotlight – Dr. Christopher Kelts, Conductor

KCCO recently welcomed the return of Dr. Christopher Kelts as Music Director, so we would like to officially reintroduce him to you! Be sure to check out his Facebook page as well.

Christopher Kelts is the new Director of Orchestral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music Missouri State University. He is also the Music Director and co-founder of the Kinnor Philharmonic Orchestra and serves as Music Conductor for the Kansas City Civic Orchestra.

A native of St. Louis, Dr. Kelts has had many opportunities to perform in his home city. He has been the recipient of the “Arts for Life” Award for his musical direction in local theatre, served as guest conductor for the St. Louis Suburban Honors Orchestra and clinician to many St. Louis School Districts. Kelts was also a guest clinician for the Hickman Mills Honors Orchestra (Kansas City), in addition to giving many clinics to local and state-wide middle and high schools. He has also served as an adjudicator for the American String Teacher’s Association (ASTA).

Other conducting engagements have included: assistant conductor of the Kansas City Ballet, Chamber Orchestra of the Ozarks, Topeka Symphony Orchestra and the Urban Cultural Project (Kansas City).

Dr. Kelts completed his advanced conducting training at Illinois State University and University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. His teachers have included Glenn Block, Robert Olson and Paul Vermel. While in his studies at UMKC Conservatory, Chris served as the assistant conductor for the Conservatory Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. He maintained the position as Opera conductor of many of the Conservatory’s opera productions. Dr. Kelts has conducted stage productions as: Le nozze di Figaro, Il Ritorno di Ulisses in Patria, Susannah, Pirates of Penzance, Hansel und Gretel, Guilio Cesare, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi and recently premiered Tonatzin. Chris has worked with stage directors, Linda Ade Brand, Marciem Bazell and Richard Gammon.

Not limited to his studies in orchestral conducting, Dr. Kelts formally trained as a violist where he studied at Missouri State University and Illinois State University. Dr. Kelts has ample symphonic experience as a violist. Recent positions have included; Springfield (MO) Symphony Orchestra, Peoria Symphony, Opera of Illinois Orchestra and the Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra. His teachers have included Amy Muchnick, Kate Hamilton and Karen Tuttle. Chris Kelts continues to perform in various chamber and orchestral ensembles.

For over ten years, Chris had served on the summer faculty for Missouri State University’s String Institute (String Fling) and is faculty/conductor for The Heartland Summer Chamber Music Festival. Christopher Kelts is a member of the Conductor’s Guild and College Orchestra Director’s Association.

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.

KCCO Outreach – Barstow School

Thank you to the Barstow School for letting our musicians come and share their love of music with your students!


Early childhood and lower school students experienced music with their ears, eyes— and hands—during a visit from members of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra on Wednesday, October 19.
Jennifer Mitchell and Don Goldenbaum are members of the all-volunteer, community-based orchestra that performs high-quality, free concerts throughout the metro area. They shared their musical passion with students in pre-Kindergarten through grade 2 on Wednesday, October 19.

Their visit gave students the opportunity to not only hear a short violin concert, but also to see a live performance and to touch instruments and feel what it’s like to create sounds on a violin and viola.

Kristi Mitchell’s grade 1 and 2 students are studying orchestra instruments and instrument families in class this quarter. The live demonstration took those lessons to a new level.

“We’ve listened to classical music on an iPad app, but the transfer from studying it on the iPad to experiencing music live and in person was really cool,” Mitchell said.

The duo played songs that many of the children recognized, but might not have realized how instruments are used to create them: “Belle,” and “Cruella deVille” from Disney movies, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Jingle Bells.”

The familiar adage, “Look, but don’t touch,” was not part of the experience. Children passed around real horsehair that is used to make bowstrings. Mitchell and Goldenbaum also allowed every student in their audiences to hold their bows as the musicians guided them across the strings.

Barstow Director of Health Services Gay Lee Ludwig-Bonney ( aka Nurse Bonney) is a longtime member of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra. She plays the double bass, the largest of the stringed instruments. She said these outreach programs and events like the upcoming Instrument Petting Zoo give curious children the opportunity to develop a love of music at an early age.

“It inspires them to explore, to touch, to play, even to blow into a trumpet and create sound,” she said.

Children who are interested in more hands-on musical experiences are invited to attend the Kansas City Civic Orchestra’s Instrument Petting Zoo and family-friendly concert November 12 at 1:00 p.m. at Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kansas.