Flint Hills Symphony
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.