Daniel McDill is used to conducting orchestras in performance halls, but not ones that perform for beer halls and record breakers.
McDill conducts the Social Symphony, a community organization in the Kansas City (KC) area dedicated to bringing local musicians together. Musicians include performers of all experience levels and feature all kinds of instruments. They perform a variety of repertoire at a variety of venues. The group is primarily managed by PSU marketing grad Alina Sigitova.
“(We’re about) bringing people together (and) creating a musical outlet for a variety of skills levels in a no-pressure environment,” McDill said. “We have members with master’s degrees in music sitting next to those who haven’t had an opportunity to play their instruments in five to 10 years. We have members… reconnecting in this ensemble.”
McDill said that the idea came from about when McDill’s wife, Randalin, and Sigitova were ‘hanging out’ and they wanted to create a new performance opportunity for community musicians.
“… Alina mentioned her crazy idea for an adult community orchestra that would allow regular folks to dust off their instruments, reconnect with their musical side, and enjoy a drink with new friends,” Daniel said. “They called me up and explained that Alina would do all the behind the scenes work, but she needed someone to get up on the podium and wave their hands.”
Daniel said he had some worries about the success of the group, but those fears were assuaged by Sigitova.
“Initially, I doubted if we would be able to really pull this off,” Daniel said. “… I told Alina, ‘If you can get people to show up, I’ll find music and lead rehearsals.’ She posted on the Kansas City page of Reddit and few weeks later we met at the Rhino in North Kansas City for our informational meeting.”
While McDill was a student at PSU, he studied percussion under James Clanton and participated in a variety of ensembles on a variety of instruments, including singing in the university choir and the auditioned chorale, playing percussion parts in both the wind ensemble and the Southeast Kansas (SEK) Symphony, and participating in jazz ensembles as both a saxophonist and a vibraphonist. He earned his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from PSU as well, under the teaching of SEK Symphony director Raul Munguia.
“I chose Pittsburg State because I knew I wanted to study under Dr. Clanton and Dr. Fuchs,” Daniel said. “After a campus visit, I knew Pitt State was the right choice. It was very meaningful to me that during my studies, I was able to develop relationships with my professors and attended a university where the president took the time to know and be genuinely interested in… students… It was easy for me to also choose Pitt State for my graduate studies. Working under Dr. Munguia gave me the skills and confidence needed to lead the Social Symphony…”
Daniel encourages students from the KC area who are older than 21 and seeking an opportunity to play their instruments, meet new friends and “turn their Mondays into ‘Fun-days” to get involved on the Social Symphony’s social media pages, including Facebook (The Social Symphony KC), Twitter (@socialsymphony), and Instagram (@socialsymphonykc), or email them (email@example.com) for details on becoming a member of the ensemble.