The South Kansas Symphony invites the public to a special performance of ‘Kanza: A Winfield Celebration’ on Saturday, May 6 at 7pm at the Island Park Performance Venue. The upcoming concert, narrated by Winfield native Larry Hatteberg, ushers in Winfield’s 150th Celebration of its incorporation. While many Winfield locals may remember the original Kanza production in 1961, this performance will be an abbreviated version with no pageantry.
KANZA is the story of Kansas written for Winfield’s celebration of the Kansas Centennial Year in 1961 and was originally produced by the Winfield Public Schools. First performed on May 8, 1961, KANZA was a musical-narrative pageant created by Howard Halgedhal, music instructor at Winfield High School, who wrote the narrative and lyrics, and by Ronald LoPresti, Ford Foundation composer in residence to the Winfield Public Schools, who wrote the music. Others who contributed countless hours of scoring the music and preparing individual musicians for the production were Dick Brummett and Leoti Newland.
The narrative was told by four narrators and incorporated songs, instrumental music, and almost continuous pageantry. The production used choruses of 500 elementary students, 400 junior and senior high students, an orchestra-band of 150 members and over 200 people in the pageantry. Many individuals as well as local businesses contributed time and money to make KANZA the success it achieved. It was to say, a “big deal” for Winfield.
The original production was to be performed at the Winfield Fairgrounds on May 4, 1961, but heavy rains upstream and the eventual flooding of the fairgrounds caused it to be moved the next week to Stewart Field House on the Southwestern College campus where it was performed for two nights to overflowing audiences. It was finally performed as intended at the fairgrounds in front of the grandstand on a cold and windy evening in late September 1961.
KANZA is unique to Winfield as nowhere else is it played or remembered. With each passing generation, it becomes a faded memory, and we are fortunate to be able to once again enjoy parts of KANZA that were first performed 62 years ago.
The concert is free and open to the public. Lawn chairs or blankets are encouraged for park seating. Outside food and drinks are welcome.