KU School of Music at the Kennedy Center

World Premiere of Freedom from Fear: Images from the Shoreline


The University of Kansas School of Music and Reach Out Kansas, Inc. present the world premiere of Kevin Walczyk’s Symphony No. 5, Freedom from Fear: Images from the Shoreline on Sunday, April 29 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, conducted by Paul W. Popiel, and Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Dan Gailey, will combine to perform this new work, commissioned by Reach Out Kansas, Inc. As part of Chancellor Douglas Girod's inauguration events, a Chancellor's Concert and Kennedy Center preview will be given Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center of Kansas. 

Walczyk drew inspiration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address, Four Freedoms, which identified freedom from fear as a fundamental human right. Underscoring the piece will be shoreline images that speak to courage in the face of violence, such as the 2015 photograph, Humanity Washed Ashore, of the 3-year old Syrian refugee, Aylan Kurdi, whose body was found on the beach in Turkey after his boat capsized; three American soldiers who died at Buna Beach during World War II; and immigrants arriving at the Statue of Liberty, in reference to Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, The New Colossus.

Walczyk explains, “The entire work is unified by the concept of freedom from fear as attributed to displaced peoples. Each movement obtains its concept from an image (photograph, painting, or even an image conjured in one’s mind) that has a connection to the shoreline.”

The Kennedy Center performance also will feature Palos Nuevos: The Jazz/Flamenco Project, which the KU Jazz Ensemble I premiered in Spring 2017 at the Lied Center of Kansas. Composed by Gailey and choreographed by Michelle Heffner Hayes, Palos Nuevos emulates the flamenco tradition of dialogue between dancer and musician and the practice of trading fours in jazz improvisations. The suite features Hayes, chair of the KU Department of Dance, performing the “baile” (dance); Steve Leisring, professor of trumpet, playing the ‘cante’ (voice); flamenco guitarist Beau Bledsoe as the “toque” (guitar); and Brandon Draper, KU music lecturer, performing on percussion.

Freedom from Fear and Palos Nuevos are legacy projects of Reach Out Kansas, Inc. Legacy projects are driven by an extraordinary vision and a desire to create something truly transformative, that will impact the world for generations to come. 

Concert Information

Wednesday, April 18
Chancellor's Concert: KU Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble I (Kennedy Center Preview: Freedom From Fear)
7:30 p.m. | Lied Center of Kansas | Free
Sunday, April 29
World Premiere of Freedom From Fear and Palos Nuevos 
3 p.m. | John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. | $25
Tickets available at the Kennedy Center Box Office, charge by phone at (202)467-4600 and at kennedy-center.org. For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, call the Advanced Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.

Help Send Students to D.C. 

Students in the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble I have the opportunity of a lifetime to perform composer Kevin Walczyk’s new work, commissioned by Reach Out Kansas, Inc., on the stage of the Eisenhower Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Please support these musical Jayhawks as they make a trip that will inspire them for years to come.

All funds raised go directly toward offsetting the expenses for 75 students’ travel to Washington D.C. for the world premiere concert. From the cost of a meal to airfare, a donation of any size will make a significant difference in the lives and careers of these aspiring musicians! Your gift also helps to feature KU at an internationally prestigious performance venue.

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