In 1972 a dozen Lawrence musicians gathered in Jessie Branson’s living room to play chamber music. Fifty years later their legacy continues as the Lawrence Community Orchestra (LCO) celebrates its 50th anniversary.
The LCO will mark this occasion with an exceptional concert at the Lied Center of Kansas, 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 23. Special guests include the Lawrence Civic Choir, the Lawrence High School Choir, the Free State High School Choir, and members of the Plymouth Congregational Church Choir. Tickets are available at the Lied Center of Kansas ticket office or at www.lied.ku.edu.
“The Lawrence Community Orchestra is excited to perform in one of our premier venues with our community’s extremely talented musicians. The heart of the organization is supporting local musicians and getting to do that in partnership with so many great choral groups is truly special. We look forward to the next 50 years and are appreciative of the support from the community for the past 50,” said Janetlynn Zuk, LCO board president.
As the Lawrence Chamber Players expanded throughout the 1970s, its repertoire included a variety of repertoire from the baroque era to contemporary works with performances throughout the community. Professional musicians and skilled players formed the core of the ensemble.
Over time, the repertoire grew to include more full orchestra pieces. In 1998, as part of its evolving and expanding vision, the Lawrence Chamber Players began using the name Lawrence Chamber Orchestra. Over the years the group performed in a variety of venues under the direction of dedicated conductors and collaborating with area groups. Its annual Baroque by Candlelight concerts were a highlight of each season.
The transition to become the Lawrence Community Orchestra began in fall 2013 with the addition of music directors Dr. Matt Smith, associate director of bands at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Rachel Dirks, director of orchestral studies at Kansas State University. Different funding and organizational models were necessary to keep the music playing. Featuring talented area musicians as well as guest artists, each season the LCO concerts have ranged from classical symphonic concerts to silent movie accompaniments as well as a variety of musical genres.
“It is an honor to share in the magic of music-making in Lawrence with LCO musicians and supporters. The past 50 years have shown how versatile and ambitious orchestral experiences in Lawrence can be. I look forward to the next 50 as we explore innovative and exciting programming and outreach,” Dirks said.