Archive for Friday, June 22, 2007

Commentary: Flint Hills symphony is a Kansas treasure

June 22, 2007


Sky and prairie. Wildflowers and butterflies. Historical and contemporary. Beautiful music. Horses riding into the sunset.

Scenes from a movie?

No, scenes from Kansas.

More specifically, this was Saturday evening at the Symphony in the Flint Hills 2007, the second annual concert at Wade Pasture in Wabaunsee County. The concert is a partnership of the Trusler Foundation and K.T. Wiedemann Foundation (owners of the concert site), among other sponsors. It is a Kansas jewel witnessed by 6,855 ticket holders and volunteers in attendance.

The drive to Wade Pasture took our group through Eskridge. The whole town must have been on Main Street. We could have spent time there looking at the exhibit of Jim Richardson's pictures of the Flint Hills, published in a recent edition of National Geographic magazine and featured in the Lawrence Journal-World.

According to the Symphony in the Flint Hills 2007 almanac, the Wade pasture is named for Achilles B. Wade, a Lawrence businessman and member of the proslavery "bogus" legislature of 1855. The pasture retains his name.

After parking, we began the three-quarter-mile walk to the concert site. The beauty of the location was immediately evident. We had a long view down a classic Flint Hills vista. We could see several horse riders in the distance, and wildflowers and butterflies up close. A fresh breeze made it a perfect late spring day.

Upon arrival at the site, we staked our claim. The program was a mere $2. We studied the numerous choices for educational forums and entertainment. We opted for the tent with programs about traditional and current Flint Hills ranching and stewardship practices. Those who live the day-to-day ranch life shared dialogue and answered questions. Cowboys are colorful and have wonderful stories.

As the concert time drew near, we purchased our tasty dinner of pulled beef and pork sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad and slaw.

Soldiers from Fort Riley, dressed in dragoon attire and on horseback, began their journey with flags across the valley and progressed to the concert site. Almost total silence made the scene very touching.

The anticipated concert began. A highlight was the solo of "Orange Blossom Special" by Marvin Gruenbaum. I felt privileged to hear this familiar bluegrass standard accompanied by a full orchestra. Another favorite was "Buckaroo Holiday, from Rodeo" by Aaron Copland. All selections were timely for the setting and melodic to an untrained ear.

Almost as if on cue, with the beautiful notes from John Barry's "Finale" of "Dances With Wolves," the orange and yellow sun began to slide behind the distant hills.

- Linda Hanney is a fellow of the Citizens Journalism Academy sponsored by The World Company and the Kansas University School of Journalism.


bd 10 years, 3 months ago

I wonder if they could book the Doobie Brothers next year??????

Compy 10 years, 3 months ago

I love reading flowery articles about something I missed, because the World company dropped the ball, yet again.

How was I supposed to find out about this? I sure wanted to go, but I didn't know when it was coming up. Guess I'll do my own journalism next time. I'm a poet, too - but I don't call my journal "news".

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 3 months ago

Well, Compy, I'm not sure it's fair to accuse the LJW of dropping the ball since they didn't provide a notice of this event in Wabaunsee County. If you are willing to sift through a variety of resources each week, you will learn about these things.

Symphony in the Flint Hills was created in 2005 and has been tremendously popular. It sold out in less than 24 hours this year. Its website is It was on the Kansas tourism website Topeka news organizations did cover this. (Makes more sense for them than the LJW, since they have a presence in Wabaunsee County.) And there were paid advertisements around in several periodicals.

Look on the bright side--now you'll know for next year!

TheHeartlessBureaucrat 10 years, 3 months ago

Hey Compy,

Don't feel too bad. My father told me about it this weekend and knows someone who was in attendance. Tickets sold out in a very short time...under two hours was his estimate.

There's always next year.


WiseOne 10 years, 3 months ago

I too would have loved to gone to this, how would one find out about this for the next time?

bd 10 years, 3 months ago

OK, how about ELO, ELP, YES, ETC..........

Alia Ahmed 10 years, 3 months ago

Here's the link to symphony on the priairie, You could save it and put something on your calendar to remind you to look at the website to find out what day tickets go on sale after the first of next year. I went this year but ordered my tickets on-line the day the went on sale. They also have a need for volunteers, so that might be an option also for next year. The tickets for adults were $35 a piece and $17 for children.

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