I’m pleased to say that the Richardson Auditorium / Richardson Performing Arts Center, Southwestern College and the town of Winfield, Kansas have decided to NOT participate in the decline of America. Saturday night, the great auditorium, which resides in the great building on the hill, overlooking the entire Walnut Valley, reopened. Having undergone an almost three million dollar renovation Richardson has been transformed into a performance art venue, which to my ear, seems to have the best acoustics to be found, not just in the state of Kansas, but very possibly the entire Midwestern region.
To rededicate the stage Southwestern College President Dick Merriman presided over the always-enjoyable ribbon cutting ceremony. I love these nostalgic traditions. And the campus minister offered a nice prayer to the Lord. As the four hundred plus people in attendance offered a prayer for the occasion, I wondered how many knew that sundown concluded the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, the day when the fate of all is sealed. I decided not to inquire, because an intentional selection of this day would be very impressive, but the unintentional selection of this day is even more so—
The performance, called Kaleidoscope, consisted of a mix of music performed by the South Kansas Symphony, A Cappella Choir, SC Singers and a truly beautiful violin solo by Leora K. (Martin) Kline. Conductors Daniel Stevens and David Gardner could not have performed their respective duties with any greater class or musical fluidity—yes, the music simply flowed. On several occasions during the performance my mind wandered back to Los Angeles, I was sitting in the Disney Concert Hall and Gustavo Dudamel was conducting Shakespeare & Tchaikovsky, such a beautiful flow it all was, from one great musical experience to another.
Some smooth jazz was being performed in the lobby as I exited out of the main doors to the top of the impressive steps, a light rain was falling, good, I thought, we need some rain, and then I spoke to some friends. What a lovely night to contemplate as I walked to my car. I stopped for a moment and said a prayer of my own. I prayed that the good people that stood up in difficult times and made such a wonderful place take place should continue to do so. And I prayed for the people of the great little town of Winfield, that they would each and every one of them walk up the stairs, to the shiny building on the hill and watch the superlative dramatic and musical performances that will be performed such a short distance away from their own doorsteps.
Success of every type comes from having a vision and there is no better way to inspire one’s own vision than exposure to the arts. I know nothing, if not this. Support the arts my friends, but more than this embrace the arts and you will broaden your horizons, expand your consciousness, you will make yourself and the world a better place.
Stan Lerner reporting from Small Town America!