The Southeast Kansas Symphony is a group comprised of Pittsburg State students, members of the community and professionals that come together and perform throughout the year at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. As the official house band of the Bicknell the SEK Symphony were the first group to perform inside of the Bicknell when it opened its doors in late 2014.
In October of 2019 the SEK Symphony had the unique honor of performing with world renowned operatic tenor and PSU alum Robert Deane Smith. After the SEK Symphonies performance at the Bicknell on Thursday, October 17, 2019 the group then traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to perform at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday October 20. Just 5-days after their performance at the Kauffman KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro spoke with SEK Symphony Director Raul Munguia to speak about the performances.
While the SEK Symphony is known as a community orchestra Raul reminds us that the group is comprised of between 40-60 percent PSU students. In addition to both meeting and performing with Robert Deane Smith it could also be a once in a lifetime experience for many of the student performers from Pittsburg State. The experience of performing in the Kauffman Performing Arts Center was also second to none for the group. Raul compares the experience as the difference between driving a Lexus (The Bicknell) and a Rolls Royce (The Kauffman) in the level of sound design and quality. Even days later you can hear the level of energy, enthusiasm and positivity even days after the performance in Raul’s voice.
Prior to working with the SEK Symphony Raul has performed with other groups inside of the Kauffman Center. He also says that one of the first things that he did when he moved to the area was visit the Kauffman and see a symphony performance at the center. But this was a different practice for him both personally and professionally as instead of playing as part of a group he was standing in front of one.
Another aspect of the SEK Symphony performances at both the Bicknell and the Kauffman Centers was the addition of Operatic Tenor and Southeast Kansas native Robert Deane Smith. While Raul has performed with and conducted singers in past performances he says that the ability to work with a performer on the level of the Smith is unique and a first time experience for him. And not only to perform with Smith, but to talk and share their professional musical background both with each other and students being all part of the experience.