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.

December Concert and Silent Auction

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-1-57-06-pmCelebrate the season with KCCO! Our Sounds of the Season concert features holiday favorites like White Christmas, Silver Bells, and our annual performance of Sleigh Ride, featuring a guest conductor from our audience!

Sounds of the Season Concert
Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10
Silent Auction at 6:45pm, Concert at 7:30pm
Atonement Lutheran Church

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-1-59-28-pmBefore the concert, be sure to visit our Silent Auction Fundraiser. We have a great collection of unique items that are perfect for gift-giving! Proceeds from auction purchases support future KCCO outreach programs and help us continue to offer our concerts for free! Below are just a few of the items that will be available. If you’d like to see the complete list of available items, view our Friday auction catalog or the Saturday catalog.


angel-basket-web  animal-basket-web  wine-basket-web


2017 Young Artist Concerto Competition

KCCO is excited to announce our 2017 Young Artist Concerto Competition!

The Concerto Competition gives KCCO the opportunity to engage with and support young musicians in the Kansas City area. The winner of the competition will have the opportunity to perform with the orchestra and will also receive a cash prize of $500. This year’s auditions will take place on Saturday, February 4th. We invite all musicians aged 13 to 19 to participate!

How to Enter
  • Please read the competition rules below
  • Download the application form
  • Obtain a recommendation from music instructor
  • Mail form and $25 application fee to: Kansas City Civic Orchestra, P.O. Box 224, Shawnee Mission, KS 66201

Applications must be received by January 25, 2016.

Competition rules and guidelines

*Please Read Carefully*

  1. Competition Audition Date is: Saturday, February 4, 2017 (Atonement Lutheran Church) 10:00am – 3:00pm (time assigned).
  2. The concerto competition is for ages 13 – 19.
  3. Perform a solo orchestral work that is no less than 9 minutes and no greater than 20 minutes in length, from memory (can be a movement from a standard concerto or a multi movement work.)
  4. Audition time slots will be up to 15 minute intervals (cuts are acceptable for the audition).
  5. The competition is open to all instrumentalists (except piano & saxophone).
  6. First place winner will receive a performance with the Kansas City Civic Orchestra on Saturday, April 29, 2017 and a prize of $500.00.
  7. Second place may receive acknowledgement at our March 4, 2016 performance.
  8. Kansas City Civic Orchestra reserves the right to have both first and second place winners perform at the March 2017 concert.
  9. Winner(s) must be available for rehearsals on: Tuesday, April 18 & 25 (between 7:30pm – 9:30pm) and Saturday, April 29 (between 9:00am – 3:00pm.) Specific times within these rehearsals will be assigned at a later date.
  10. All room/board/transportation is at the expense of the competition participant.
  11. The $25.00 application fee is non-refundable
  12. Audition date/time/place is non-negotiable.
  13. An audition time will be emailed to participant within one week of the application deadline.
  14. Competition participants must supply their respective instrument at audition/performance.
  15. Competition participants must supply their own accompanist at audition.
  16. Judges may come from within or may be guests of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra.
  17. Winner selection will be announced and emailed at the end of the audition day.
  18. Judge’s decision is final.
  19. The Kansas City Civic Orchestra can decide not to award winners/prizes.
  20. Failure to abide by these guidelines and rules may result in participant’s disqualification.

Feel free to contact us with any additional questions.

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.

Third Annual Instrument Petting Zoo

Our third Annual Instrument Petting Zoo takes place November 12th at 1pm. The Petting Zoo gives kids the opportunity to touch, play, and learn about a variety of instruments. After the zoo participants are encouraged to stay for our 2pm performance of Peter and the Wolf narrated by local celebrity Bryan Busby!
Instrument Petting Zoo Flyer

2016 – 2017 Auditions

Saturday, August 20, 2016
10:00am – 3:00pm (Audition Time will be Assigned)

Atonement Lutheran Church (directions)
9948 Metcalf Ave
Overland Park, KS 66212

Current Openings:

Principal BASSOON



Section VIOLA

Section CELLO

Principal BASS

Section BASS

Sub-list Openings:


Audition requirements:

Solo selection of your choice (no pianist provided, or required). Sight reading (3 excerpts provided by committee)

Principal Duties with KCCO:

Principal players are expected to come to all rehearsals. A minimum of one rehearsal can be missed. If a conflict arises and/or emergency situation, please inform the music director as soon as possible. Unexcused absences may result in position replacement and/or appointment of another musician. Coordinate bowing with Concertmaster. All members of KCCO are volunteer musicians. All principal positions are for one year, with the possibility of renewal.


Audition Requirements:

Perform a 3-5 minute solo selection of your choice (no accompanist needed). The audition committee will provide sight reading material during the audition.

(Auditions are not blind)

…to Audition:

Complete the form below or contact auditions@kccivic.org to reserve an audition spot.

Deadline to reserve a spot: FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2016

**Although there are not openings in every section, those wishing to be on the sub list may schedule a time with KCCO Personnel Manager (email above) to be considered being placed on KCCO sub-list of musicians.

Audition Form

    If you are interesting in joining the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, please use the form below. (All fields must be completed.):


    First Name:


    Last Name:






    Email Address:









        Tell us a little about your musical experience and why you want to join the orchestra:

    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!

    KCCO’s 52nd Season Part Duex

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    We are just a few weeks away from saying goodbye to 2010. The Kansas City Civic Orchestra (KCCO) has enjoyed performing in 2010 – we are also excited to bring music to you in 2011!

    We have two great concerts that feature wonderful soloists, a variety of repertoire and a venue that has been a staple in the Kansas City artistic fabric. Join us February 19, 2011 for our concert Remembering Mahler, when we mark 100 years since the death of Gustav Mahler. It has been a remarkable two years of in the life of Mahler…2010 marked the 150th year since his birth! Orchestras around the world are performing Mahler’s music.

    I’m particularly excited about this concert – of the programs I put together, this one is my favorite. We will perform Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with soloist Jessica Goldring.

    Ms. Goldring, being a resident of Berlin, will capture the Germanic style and grace of this music. Mahler wrote for larger orchestras…KCCO is just that…a large orchestra. However, these collections of songs, though featuring a full ensemble, lend an intimate focus on the text and thematic material that would later make an appearance in Mahler’s famous symphonies.

    The orchestra will end the program that evening with the charming and uncharacteristic Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” by Beethoven. I chose the Beethoven symphony because, historically, Mahler was a great pioneer in the closing of romantic symphonic music.

    Beethoven began the development and musical innovation in symphonic writing (his 9th symphony…with four soloists and chorus), and Mahler closes the Romanic musical era with his forward thinking symphonies (Symphony No. 10…which he did not finish before his death). Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 is uncharacteristic in the sense that, while most of Beethoven’s music is high drama (to say the least); this particular symphony (while focusing on nature) opens the listener to Beethoven’s intimate, peaceful and charming side. Of course there is still drama – anyone who might listen to a recording of this work will remember that there is a “thunder storm” sequence!

    The real trick was finding a work to open the program. I didn’t want to use something bombastic or brash. I wanted to find something that would set the mood – bring the focus of the evening to a quieter place – perhaps a religious or peaceful place. I found such a work in Copland’s Quiet City. Kansas City Civic Orchestra’s own Bryan Miller (trumpet) and Anne Sneller (English Horn) will be the featured soloists in this piece. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for this concert – we will also feature a pre-concert talk at 6:45pm to try to dig a little deeper into the music.

    Magnificence, Mendelssohn & Magic – that’s right! I’m talking about an evening of music that could very well knock your socks off. Well, maybe not that kind of music, but certainly packs a punch. KCCO opens the evening with Liszt’s Les Preludes. This composition is, in essence, a tone poem. Words (though wordless) set to music. This piece has everything a fan of Romantic music would want – exuberant brass, lush and exciting string sounds, sweet and charming winds…not to mention percussion placed at the perfect moment.

    The program continues with Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, in E minor with violinist Yu-Fang Chen. Ms. Chen is one of Kansas City’s leading violinists…her talents taking her to competitions and performances in the United States and abroad. The performance of this beloved concerto closes the first half of this concert.

    The second half opens with a new work, written by composer William Funk. The composition, Trettanrune for String Orchestra, was commissioned by the KCCO.

    Join us at 6:45pm as we sit down with the composer to discuss the evolution of this piece, as well as the other works on the program.

    The evening concludes with a picturesque scene: the god, Wotan, has put Brunhilda the Valkurie into a deep sleep on top of the mountain. To protect her from anyone who might rescue her…Wotan places a magic fire atop the mountain.  Wagner’s (wordless) Wotans Farewell and Magic Fire Music is the final notes of his opera Die Walkuries. It is a wonderful end to a wonderful season. The music is lush with traditional Wagner leitmotiv, doubled string passages, brash and regal brass – it will leave your imagination wondering in true Nordic Mythology.

    This program takes place in one of Kansas City’s oldest and most beloved venues, the Folly Theatre. So please come out and hear us. Stay connected on our website: www.kccivic.org – you don’t want to miss the remainder of this season.

    For 52 consecutive years the Kansas City Civic Orchestra has been bringing free concerts to the audience of Kansas City…won’t you come and live the music?