Gala, free admission highlight first concert of Hays Symphony season

HSO opening gala 2016

08/29/16 rf/cd/kb
By Ruth Firestone
Hays music supporter
HAYS, Kan. -- The Hays Symphony Orchestra, the longest continuously running community orchestra in Kansas, has an exciting season of Russian masterworks in store.

To get its 103rd season off to a flying start, the first concert will be a gala occasion. All tickets are free thanks to a generous donation from Auto World. Music Director Shokhrukh Sadikov, Shah for short, has planned a program of exciting music by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff. Sadikov is an assistant professor of music and theatre at Fort Hays State University.

Guest conductor Benjamin Cline, chair of Fort Hays State's Department of Music and Theatre, is looking forward to showing off the orchestra of about 60 people -- students, faculty and other Hays-area musicians -- at their very best. Former music director Jeff Jordan, associate professor of music and theatre at FHSU, will give a brief pre-concert introduction to the music.

The Gala will be Saturday, Sept. 10, beginning with Jordan's introduction at 6:45 p.m. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. All events will be in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the FHSU campus.

Gala offerings will include a display of Russian artifacts from the Ellis County Historical Society, highlighting Volga-German music and traditions. The exhibit will include a display on the development of area bands as well as the Hays Symphony Orchestra. A Kid's Corner will have musical activities, and the lobby will have an exhibit of Russian paintings and other artifacts.

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's "Marche Slave," Opus 31 (1876), will certainly provide a lively beginning to the concert. Ironically, in view of recent history, the short, fast march was commissioned for a concert to benefit Serb and Russian soldiers wounded in an uprising against Turks of the Ottoman Empire.

The orchestra will get another good workout with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's irresistible "Capriccio Espagnol," Opus 34 (1887), based on Russian folk music and composed as a showpiece for orchestra. Rumor has it that the melodies, dances, imitations of guitars, and cadenzas have been known to leave audiences dancing in the aisles.

Internationally known pianist Dr. Irena Ravitskaya, an associate professor of music and theatre at FHSU and originally from the Republic of Moldova, formerly part of the USSR, a specialist in Russian repertoire, will collaborate with the orchestra as soloist in a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, one of the composer's best-loved works. Over the years, its beautiful melodies have been copied into popular songs like "Full Moon and Empty Arms" or the marvelous "All by Myself."

But the concerto offers much more that this -- it gives breathtaking depth and breadth to the music that only the orchestra can provide.

After a few more melodies and dances to round out the concert, the evening will conclude with a reception sponsored by the Friends of the Hays Symphony and Cathy's Breads, starring Russian desserts and honoring the performers and audience alike.

"The opening gala and free concert are our gifts to the community. We hope everyone will come explore and celebrate the rich and vibrant music of Russia," said Cathy Drabkin, volunteer director of marketing for the orchestra.

Tickets are free and can be picked up at the box office starting 30 minutes before the performance or reserved in advance by contacting the HSO at

For more information, call Drabkin at 785-623-4187.

Back to top