As Crawford County and Pittsburg State University have begun to relax some COVID-19 restrictions and mandates, many events that were forced to operate virtually during the pandemic have been able to resume in-person. One such event is the Southeast Kansas Symphony at PSU’s concerts.
The symphony will host “Sunday in the Park,” a free outdoor concert, at 5:00 p.m., Sunday April 18 south of McCray Hall.
“This is the very first time we’re going to host something in the middle of the semester outdoors with the reason being we had this crazy Covid year where are the ensembles have to be creative about how to put together music for an audience and as you know we did several events virtually,” said symphony director Raul Munguia, associate professor of strings in the department of music.
Being outside, the concert will have more relaxed and informal atmosphere, and guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs and are welcome to bring snacks.
“We want to make it almost like a party, like a fiesta,” Munguia said. “I want everyone to bring their own snacks and we’re going to have a really fun time. I thought why we don’t make this fun and have it outside; people will be enjoying the weather; people will be enjoying that they can get close with friends and enjoy something that is going to be fun. Both students and community members have been very welcoming of the idea of playing some relaxing music.”
The concert will feature music from various musicals including Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, The King and I, The Sound of Music, and more.
For this concert, the symphony will include performers consisting of students, faculty, staff, community members, as well as regional artists and students from Pittsburg and Riverton high schools invited to play as part of the symphony.
“Occasionally the faculty to join the symphony for special concerts… this one he wants to do a trumpet feature so I will be joining them,” said Todd Hastings, professor of trumpet in the department of music.
Hastings is excited for the concert as it will be the first concert played in person for an audience since the pandemic, as the last two concerts were presented virtually.
“First off, it will be nice to play music with somebody again, with a. group of people,” Hastings said. “Second off it will be nice to play for somebody again. With somebody and for somebody will give a gift back to the community, a much-needed treat of live music.”
Tyler Fries, junior in music education and principal trumpet player for the SEK Symphony, is also excited for the opportunity to perform for a live audience and hopes to see a large turnout for the event.
“The most exciting part has to be the fact that we can have a live audience,” Fries said. “The music is incredibly entertaining, and I am glad the audience can experience that with us. I hope lots of people come out to hear us play. This music is incredibly fun to play., and I am eager to share it with the community.”
Munguia hopes the event will spread positivity to those who attend, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just want them to have the joy of coming together once again and having that relaxed state of mind of ‘oh my goodness, I think we’ve got out of the dark ages of the pandemic’ and I hope people are confident about it as the county and the state start relaxing as we’re doing so well… keeping numbers low,” Munguia said.
Hastings also hopes the concert will provide relief to the audience after a year in the pandemic.
“They’re hoping to wash off the dust of everyday existence that has been the past year of being solitary and hopefully being moved emotionally whether that be happiness or whatever emotion they feel,” Hastings said.
In the case of inclement weather, the event will continue as a first come first serve because there is limited audience inside McCray Hall.