In anticipation of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Today’s the big day – 14 years and millions of dollars later and an art lover’s dream is a reality. The Kansas City Star has run innumerable articles as the project has progressed – yet another on the eve of the opening. Numerous season previews from both the Star and KCMetropolis.org have began with, “In light of the opening of the brand spanking new Kauffman Center….”

We are a very excited arts community.

Today starts the weekend of events for the Grand Opening of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight’s gala event features a reception and post party, with a concert in between that hosts an amazing, though manically eclectic, line-up in the Kauffman Theater: Placido Domingo, Patti Lupone, Tommy Tune, the Canadian Brass and sneak peaks of the ballet, symphony, and opera seasons.

It’s insane to even imagine the logistics of such a production. It has major disaster written all over it – either way we’ll get a show!

Tomorrow’s show officially opens Helzberg Hall with the Symphony, Itzhak Perlman, and Diana Krall, a much more manageable venture.

Sunday is the gigantic logistics nightmare: the free open house. It will be the only time one can get in the halls and hear a full day of music with some of Kansas City’s finest performer at no charge!

And even though the national interest isn’t as pronounced as the organizers had hoped (see Daniel Wakin’s rather “well heck, aren’t those Mid-westerners cute with their new hall” article in the NYTimes), the big names in the design, the local support and the fact the project has persevered through the economic downtown should be enough to warrant some attention. Plus, of course, our world class organizations who will present in these halls.

Of course, not everything is roses. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the decor choices and some niggling rumors about an attitude of stinginess regarding tickets. Ticket prices have risen quite a bunch – further emphasizing the barrier of “us vs. them” that classical music claims to want to break down. A policy of no comps tickets whatsoever? No student discounts – no tickets for the generation that will (hopefully) continue the work and art that is being celebrated? That’s a bit…..rich.

It will be a weekend to talk about for years to come. Time will only tell with the rest of it.

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