The University of South Dakota’s symphony orchestra gets the opportunity of a lifetime. Friday, April 20, the band Kansas will perform at USD on their Collegiate Symphony Tour with the USD Symphony.
The Collegiate Symphony Tour began in 2010 when Kansas celebrated the 35th anniversary of their band.
Guitarist Rich Williams said the band has had experience with symphonies in the past.
“We’ve been playing with symphonies and did an album with an orchestra 13 years ago and have been playing since then,” Williams said.
Kansas started out by making a DVD called “No Place Like Home” which opened the doors to play with college symphonies.
Williams said the Symphony Tour is a fundraiser which they share the proceeds from ticket sales with the music department. After each show, every piece of merchandise the band sells they sign and share the proceeds with the music department as well.
Williams said that it is important for Kansas to give back to college programs.
“We reinvented ourselves with the symphony work, we love to play,” Williams said.
Sophomore Andrew Theesen, who plays percussion in the symphony at USD, said he is most excited to be able to play great music.
“Especially these American classics,” Theesen said, “From ‘Dust in the Wind’ to ‘Carry on My Wayward Son’ or even their earlier songs.”
Theesen said this kind of concert is important for USD because it puts the band in the musical world.
“Basically knowing a huge band would come down to perform with us let us put this onto our resume as well as being able to play at that level of musical talent,” Theesen said.
Theesen said his favorite song to play is ‘Point of Know Return.’
Williams also said the tour opens another door for the band to feed the beast.
“We do this for a living and we love doing this,” Williams said.
“I do not like to sit around at home and do nothing. Playing shows, it is a satisfying thing,” Williams said.
Kansas chose USD because the university showed an interest in the concert.
Students have been practicing for the upcoming concert. Larry Bird, who writes the scores, is the conductor for Kansas.
He does all the movie blues tours, shows up beforehand and rehearses with them in advance all of the charts are sent to the schools so they can practice.
The morning of the concert, Bird will practice here with the orchestra, then in the afternoon Kansas will come in and do a sound check, practice a couple of songs with everyone and then it is show time.
Williams said they have created a lot of new fans just from putting this tour on.
“There is nothing like being on stage and people cheering you on for what you are doing,” Williams said.
For the song “Dust in the Wind,” they give a violinist from USD a solo.
“When they’re done playing, the place explodes in thunderous applause, you can see a fuse lit inside them, it is wonderful to see the love of their interest,” Williams said.
Williams said it is very inspirational to see these young faces being inspired.
Williams said his favorite part of the concert is performing the song “Dust in the Wind” because it has two acoustic guitars and when the soloist comes in there is a lot of interaction through out the song.
This concert is a fundraiser for the university’s music department.
Williams said this is a great opportunity to see a big name band and give back to the university as well.
“If for nothing else, it’s great support. You have football and basketball—that’s where all the money goes—the arts always get cut back and people just aren’t aware, people should be proud to support the music groups,” Williams said.
The concert is April 20, at 8 p.m. in Aalfs Auditorium in Slagle Hall.
Reach reporter Kelsey Kroger at Kelsey.Kroger@usd.edu.