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  • For their first concert of the year, The Southeast Kansas Symphony collaborates with special guests

  • Bluegrass and classical music can get together. The Southeast Kansas Symphony crossover concert on Sunday proved that.

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  • Bluegrass and classical music can get together. The Southeast Kansas Symphony crossover concert on Sunday proved that.
    “Bluegrass people traditionally don’t read music, and symphony people traditionally don’t know how to ad lib,” said Terry Calloway, president of the Friends of the SEK Symphony.
    However, he and the Friends board brought in three people to create a composition for the SEK Symphony and present an enjoyable afternoon of music for Pittsburg music lovers.
    Composer/arranger Steve W. Mauldin, Calloway’s high school friend, has a master’s degree in classical composing and definitely knows how to read music. Tim May, flatpick guitarist, and his wife, Gretchen Priest-May, Celtic fiddler, are bluegrass musicians.
    Together, the three collaborated in the creation of “The Kansas Suite,” a piece commissioned for the SEK Symphony.
    “I knew that Steve had written an arrangement for Ricky Skaggs to play with the London Symphony, so I thought he could do this,” Calloway said.
    “I hadn’t known Tim and Gretchen before Terry introduced us, and what a blessing that was,” Mauldin told the audience Sunday.
    The first part of the concert consisted of Mauldin’s original compositions, with the composer explaining the inspiration behind each. A chorus sang for in two of the pieces, and Patrick Howle of the PIttsburg State University music faculty was a soloist in a selection titled “God.”
    May and Priest-May performed several bluegrass selections, then the program concluded with “The Kansas Suite,” which brought a standing ovation from the audience.
    “It was wonderful,” said Judi Campbell, audience member. “It looked to me like the symphony was having fun with it, too.”
    “How often do you get to hear a composer play his own works?” asked Robert Medford, another concert goer. “This was a first for me, and it was marvelous.”
    “I was very interested to hear the composer talk about the process and his inspiration,” said Paul Smith, who plays cello in the SEK Symphony. “Having the composer there to talk about what we were doing was very special and helpful. We can’t hear Beethoven or Mozart talk.”
    Dr. Selim Giray, symphony artistic director and conductor, and Calloway were also pleased with the results of their crossover concert, and hope it drew in some people who might not otherwise have come to hear the symphony.
    “Being a symphony patron helps us do this kind of thing,” Calloway said. “We can do more with this symphony when we have patrons contributing.”
    Those interested in learning more about the symphony may visit www.seksymphony.org or call the PSU music department at 235-4466.

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