An expansion of our outreach efforts initiated by violinist Jennifer Mitchell, “Civic in the City” is a series of recitals prepared and performed in various neighborhoods around town. Debbie Allen, KCCO principal clarinetist, began the neighborhood performances with a series of four recitals in her neighborhood in June and July of 2020. There were several performances over the summer in 2021, with duos, trios, and quartets performing outdoors for appreciative audience members. Our musicians are now focused on our regular season concerts, but look for more outdoor performances next summer!
A highlight of Civic in the City is the performance of an original composition for string quartet, As The River Flows, written by our own Debbie Allen. The inspiration for the composition was watching nature unfold in all its glory while sheltering in place, at the onset of the virus. As The River Flows includes three movements: Life Endures, NatureRestores, and Water Glistens.
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.
Young students at the St. Mark Center were visited by KCCO violinist Abigail Walden.
“There was so much excitement as the students, 10 months to 15 months old, huddled around to see the violin up close and pluck the strings. Students listened closely to learn what sound each string made as [KCCO musician Abigail] Walden strummed them one by one.”
Read more about “Orchestra Hour at St. Mark Center” here.
It’s a great feeling to know you’ve impacted the life of a budding musician! The following was submitted by the parent of one of our petting zoo attendees. Looks like we got Olivia hooked!
This is long overdue, but I wanted to thank you for the instrument petting zoo that was held in November. My 7 year old daughter was fascinated by the violin and we began lessons last December. The opportunity you provided made an impact that we as family will never forget. There are days when we have to tell her that she’s practicing too much! The violin has become an important part of our lives because of the petting zoo!
[Olivia] tells everyone she meets that she plays the violin. We recently attended the KC Symphony performance for Harry Potter and afterward she talked about how each violinist had their own way of playing and holding their violin. I think she stared at the musicians the whole time instead of watching the movie! Music education is vital to our society and I’m happy that my husband and I can give Olivia this opportunity. – Lucinda Adams
Jennifer Mitchell always enjoys playing her violin for young students, but she had EXTRA FUN in Iowa earlier this year when she performed for her Grandson Will’s preschool classes.
With the help of Jennifer’s son Aaron, the kids got to hold an old violin, run their fingers through bow hair, sing, dance, and even conduct as she played lots of familiar tunes for them. More budding musicians in the making!
The kids still talk about you coming in and playing for them. You made an impact for sure! Kids have pretended to be you by turning the blocks into a violin. Just wanted to share that with you! Thank you again for coming in. – Jill Larsen, Crayons 2 Pencils Early Learning Center
See Jennifer in action here on the Crayons 2 Pencils Facebook page.
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!
Our 59th season is in full swing, and so are our outreach activities!
September 2017 brought the addition of double bassist Gay Lee Ludwig-Bonney to the KCCO outreach duo of Jennifer Mitchell, violinist, and Don Goldenbaum, violist. The trio performed and interacted with over 750 students in preschool to grade 3 at several schools in the KC metro area in September and November.
The free interactive programs were customized in length and content from 20-45 minutes, depending on the age and attention level of the students. For younger audiences, the presentation demonstrated the differences and similarities between the three stringed instruments according to appearance, sound, and style. The musicians accompanied eager young students who sang beloved children’s songs such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “The Wheels on the Bus”.
Thank you for sharing with us last Friday. A mother shared that her daughter went home and informed her that she wanted to take violin lessons. She sat here the rest of the afternoon singing some of the songs. Thanks for keeping music alive for the world — and especially for our little folk. – Geri, Pioneer Preschool
For the older audiences, the “Seeing the Symphony” part of the program introduced students to the inner workings of an orchestra, comparing it to a sports team that requires a conductor as the leader or coach and that demands individual preparation of all the players. Rehearsals are like practices that prepare the group for the big moment, whether it’s a concert or a game.
Thank you all for playing! I’ve heard nothing but praise about your clinics from students and teachers. I know my students thought it was great. – Sarah, Messiah Lutheran School
In addition to playing popular Disney movie songs and a spirited folk tune to the accompaniment of a recorded “orchestra”, the musicians welcomed all students to take turns helping them to cooperatively “play” a familiar tune. Students eagerly pinched the end of the bow and helped to push and pull it across the strings as the musicians fingered the tune.
On November 11th KCCO held its fourth annual Instrument Petting Zoo – possibly our most popular outreach activity! Over 130 children attended and enjoyed getting their “passports” stamped as they toured through different stations where they learned about various instruments. The instruments for the Zoo were kindly donated by Band of Angels, a non-profit organization that collects used instruments, repairs them, and then provides them free of charge to students in need.
If you’d like to schedule an outreach activity for your school, send us an email!
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!
Kansas City Civic Orchestra
PO Box 224
Shawnee Mission, KS 66201