Famed rock group Kansas will play a series of concerts with collegiate symphonies to make sure music education doesn’t become dust in the wind. For its 35th anniversary live DVD release, “There’s Know Place Like Home,” Kansas played with the Washburn University Orchestra. The success of that collaboration inspired them to try playing with more university groups.
“It’s a very new idea,” says Phil Ehart, drummer and original member of Kansas. “I don’t know of any bands that have gone in and done something like this.”
The group started by cold-calling schools to see if they would be interested and soon discovered that most could not afford to put on the concerts, and that many had very few facilities or resources. “Music education and music itself is disappearing in our society,” Ehart says. “As a band that’s built their career on musicality, we’d like to see other people enjoy what we’ve gotten out of playing in a band.”
D’Addario & Company, Inc., manufacturer of instrument strings and provider of Rico Reeds and Evans Drumheads, is the presenting sponsor. As such, the company will also provide scholarships to each school’s music department. Currently the Kansas Collegiate Symphony Tour includes eight concerts at six stops: the University of Alabama, University of Texas, Wichita State University (Kansas), Oklahoma State University, Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) and Truman State University (Texas). “We respect [the college students] and enjoy being around them,” Ehart says. “They know we have good music and can play our instruments, and we know they can do the same.”
The concerts will include Kansas’ many hits including “Carry on Wayward Son,” “Dust in the Wind” and “Point of Know Return.” Since announcing the tour, more than 30 universities have expressed interest in future collaborations.
Ehart says that Kansas has considered collaborating with marching groups in the future. “We’ve been asked, but right now we’re heading towards the symphony direction,” Ehart says. “We talked about it as a band, about how cool it would be to have some of our songs played with a marching band. It’s definitely a possibility, but we just haven’t gotten there yet.”
Read the full interview with Ehart at the HalftimeMag.com “Web Exclusives.”