To the editor:
I would like to thank the Kansas Arts Commission for allowing many of Lawrence's junior and senior high school students to attend the National Symphony Orchestra's concert Wednesday at the Lied Center, and I would like to thank Rachel Dirks for organizing the opportunity for her own students.
For many or most of these students, it was their first professional concert. One hopes that it won't be their last. Classical music needs today's students to become tomorrow's supporters.
Conductor Emil de Cou is to be thanked for welcoming concert newcomers, for his graciousness in acknowledging applause between movements, for the wake-the-dead choice of Sousa's "Stars and Stripes," for encouraging (appropriately brief) applause during the "Stars and Stripes" after the piccoloists' moment of glory and, more generally, for going out of his way to show newcomers that classical music is fun and involving rather than aloof and forbidding.
Now is the time to build tomorrow's audiences. I wonder whether Kansas University could help by giving the schools unsold tickets to Lied Center performances? The more music students hear, the more they'll want to hear. Empty seats are a wasted opportunity for KU to fulfill its missions of teaching and community service.