Symphony wows crowd at Fort Riley
By Sarah Kessinger
From The Marysville Advocate
Published June 19, 2013
Historic Fort Riley put its colors on full display Saturday during the annual Symphony in the Flint Hills.
We spent the afternoon as volunteers, greeting people in the patrons tent and enjoying the view of a huge artillery parade field as it gradually filled with the lawn chairs and blankets of hundreds of fans of both the Kansas City Symphony and the Kansas prairie.
This year the symphony had switched venues from a wide expanse of rolling pasture to the fort. A few folks grumbled, preferring the prairie, but then they crowded round fascinating displays of horsemanship by the cavalry’s mounted guard, which once protected the Oregon Trail through Marshall County and beyond.
Rain poured in a few bouts during the afternoon, but by evening it was dry. Clouds drifted past as we listened to a performance that seemed to sharpen as the sounds of strings, horns and drums bounced off the walls of the historic limestone officers’ homes surrounding the field.
I would imagine I wasn’t alone in wishing the selection from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, the New World Symphony would never end. The entire concert kept us rapt and awake as swallows flitted above in the evening sky.
The sunset came long and slowly, as it does this time of year, and the music carried us along till the last of daylight.
The evening ended with a dance to a string band under a big tent, the cool, moist evening air drifting through.
Most of the crowd had faded and headed home, while a few hardy souls hung around for some two-stepping fun.
It was different from years past, I’ll admit. I learned more about the old fort, which is steeped in history dating to before Kansas was born.
But I did miss the big prairie, the wildflowers and the ranching culture that Flint Hills families always so graciously share each year in this mid-June event.
A rise of the Flint Hills was visible behind the fort’s historic buildings, so we knew they were there, beckoning us back for next year.
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