Section: Arts

Knox County Symphony performs annual Children’s Concert 

The Knox County Symphony (KCS) is bridging the divide between Gambier and the broader community. On Sunday, KCS held their annual children’s concert. Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU) hosted the event at Ariel-Foundation Park, a 250-acre park on the former site of a glass-making factory in Mount Vernon. The expansive grounds of the park feature an open-air pavilion that is a major performance venue and an ideal setting for the KCS concert. 

Paul Schwartz, the founder of the Department of Music at Kenyon, formed KCS in 1965. However, it must be noted that KCS is not a Kenyon orchestra, but rather an independent, non-profit community orchestra. Though many Kenyon students participate in KCS, Knox County residents and students from MVNU also are members. But the original musicians in the symphony were initially not from the Knox community. According to Professor of Music Benjamin Locke, KCS used to pay musicians from Columbus, Ohio and Oberlin, Ohio to perform in concerts. It was not until Locke came to Kenyon in 1984 that the program prioritized Knox County musicians. Locke shared his reasoning in an interview: “We have talent coming here. We should really try to feature the students, and community people, and the people who went through the orchestra program at public schools. Let’s try to feature our own.”

Attended by over 250 people, this year’s children’s concert kicked off the 2022-23 concert season. According to KCS Board President and Affiliated Scholar in Music Magic McBride, “The concert showcased musical scores that were part of blockbuster movies that utilized animation and computer-generated images.” The musical numbers included music from the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Encanto,” and “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” According to Locke, the very first KCS children’s concert performed Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” — a classic musical composition that introduces children to the individual sections of an orchestra. Professor of Political Science Fred Baumann was the narrator for that event. For this year’s concert, the program featured “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky, continuing the effort to introduce children to classical music. 

During the concert, Gund Gallery Associates provided art activities to occupy the kids as they listened. As the concert featured music from animated films, the Gallery provided coloring pages of familiar cartoon characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Bracelet-beading packets and glitter pom-poms were also given to the kids to create their own conductor’s baton. In an email to the Collegian on the collaboration between the KCS and the Gallery, Associate Director Christopher Yates wrote: “Our partnership with the Knox County Symphony began in 2017. Our initial goal was to simply be present and active in the broader community. The event has allowed us to make new friends and to share information about our exhibitions with parents that may not have even known that there was an art museum in Knox County. While the music is wonderful all on its own, I think our crafts make the event even more memorable and exciting for the children attending.” 

Both KCS and the Gund Gallery seek to further integrate the Kenyon and Knox communities. As Locke noted, “You can get stuck on this hill.” He added that it was valuable for students to engage in community outside of Gambier. Yates similarly ended his interview by writing, “The Gund Gallery is committed to connecting with the Knox County Community and we are actively seeking to build lasting relationships. Events like the Children’s Concert are a sign of good things to come!”


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