But Kansas isn’t taking an orchestra with them. Instead, the band will perform with each school’s symphony in a series of concerts that will surely be as much of a memorable experience for orchestra members as it will be for fans.
The impetus for the tour originates in the success of Kansas’ DVD/CD release There’s Know Place Like Home, which featured the band performing with the Washburn University Orchestra.
“We started by cold-calling schools all over the country to find out if there was interest in us coming to play with their orchestras,” Kansas drummer Phil Ehart said. “We immediately discovered that most schools have no money for their music programs.”
While setting up the tour, Ehart discovered that music programs are becoming endangered species on some university campuses. What’s more, some schools even lacked venues for orchestras to perform.
“I had one school music director actually break down emotionally on the phone with me,” Ehart said. “He was very distraught that this might be his school’s last year with a music program. He thought this concert might actually save the music program for another year.”
The result of Ehart’s labor is the Kansas Collegiate Symphony Tour. Presented by music gear / instrument manufacturer D’Addario & Company, the tour begins in Tuscaloosa as the band performs two nights with the University of Alabama’s orchestra at Moody Concert Hall Sept. 9-10. The next stop is San Antonio for a show with the University Of Texas’ orchestra at Laurie Auditorium Sept. 17.
The band then heads to Park City, Kan., where it will perform with Wichita State University’s orchestra at Hartman Arena Sept. 18. Next up is a gig in Stillwater, Okla., with Oklahoma State University’s orchestra at Stillwater High School’s Performing Arts Center Sept. 23-24, followed by a performance in Abilene with Hardin-Simmons University’s orchestra at Behrens Chapel Auditorium.
The last stop on the newly released schedule is in St. Charles, Mo., performing with Truman State University’s orchestra at The Family Arena Oct. 9.
But like many tour announcements, this one came with the obligatory “more to be added.”
There are also indications Kansas could continue its symphonic tour into next year or even beyond.
“This is going so well that other schools are contacting us for 2011 and 2012,” Ehart said. “City orchestras are even calling us about doing the same for them. Kansas has always been a symphonic rock band; we may have found a whole new niche.”
For more information on the Collegiate Symphony Tour, click here for the Kansas website.