K-State student performs, rocks out in once-in-a-lifetime concert opportunity


“It was a kind of rush” Ben MacGill, senior in music composition, said of Friday night’s concert that combined the K-State orchestra with legendary rock band, Kansas.

Playing in front of a sold out McCain Auditorium, MacGill held the position of first violin and concert master. Along with this responsibility came the opportunity to solo along side of Kansas’ violinist, Dave Ragsdale.

The solo took place in the middle of the performance of “Dust in the Wind” which was conducted by Kerry Livgren, writer of the song and original Kansas band member.

MacGill said he received an email a couple of months in advance asking if he would be willing to perform solo at the Kansas concert.

“Leading up to it, it was a little crazy. There were a lot of details that were unknown,” MacGill said of his solo. “I didn’t know what to expect until we went through a run through on Friday afternoon.”

After passing solos back and forth between MacGill and Ragsdale in the middle of Kansas’ hit song, the McCain audience erupted with applause in a standing ovation.

MacGill’s moment in the spotlight was met with such a response from the audience, it could have been mistaken for a grand finale, but merely marked the halfway point of the concert.

Kansas continued with a string of hit songs, continuously backed by the K-State Orchestra, conducted by the famed conductor, arranger, and composer, Larry Baird.

At the first down beat of their final song, “Carry On My Wayward Son,” the choir of audience members and front row fist-pumpers helped the band and orchestra wrap up the high-energy performance.

As promised by Kansas bassist, Billy Greer, the band met afterward in the lobby of McCain to autograph everything from t-shirts to concert programs for the line of fans that stretched far past the glass doors and onto the sidewalks outside.

Kansas has already partnered with college orchestras across the country for concerts like this one in order to help raise money for college music programs. Along with raising money through ticket sales, a portion of the profits from merchandise that was sold at Friday’s concert also went toward K-State’s music department Greer said. D’Addario & Company, a musical products accessory manufacturer has also teamed up with Kansas to provide products to participating universities, including K-State.

Kayla Brock and Courtney Faucett, students from Manhattan High, were ushers at Friday night’s concert.

Brock and Faucett were familiar with Kansas’ music before hearing them live.

“We played their music in marching band” said Brock.

Brock and Faucett both said they were very impressed with the K-State Orchestra and hope to continue their own musical endeavors into their college careers, possibly at K-State.

The result of this performance reached beyond financial blessing for the K-State music department. It also provided young musicians with inspiration to keep chasing after music.