K-State orchestra holds concert for parents of children with disabilities


The 80 person K-State Orchestra performed at McCain Auditorium Tuesday night in an concert that was recorded for parents with children who have disabilities.

The orchestra performed five musical numbers, including “The Beauty Of Holland” by Scott Freeby, band director at Dwight D. Eisenhower and Susan B. Anthony middle schools. The piece was composed as a companion piece to Emmy award-winning writer Emily Perl Kingsley’s piece “Welcome To Holland,” which Kingsley wrote based on her experience as a mother of a child with Down syndrome.

The performance included a projected photo slideshow next to the orchestra. During the concert, while the ensemble played “The Beauty of Holland,” Freeby read Kingsley’s poem as the slideshow projected photos of Holland and Italy.

Freeby said he writes a musical piece as a project every year. After an initial performance with 685 children at McCain, Freeby said he wrote a follow-up piece and arranged it so that the K-State Orchestra could play it as a companion piece to Kingsley’s poem.

“I’m working with Emily Perl Kingsley, who is the writer of ‘Welcome To Holland,’ which is the poem that I read,” Freeby said. “And she’s allowing me to use her words to my music, and then if we sell the music, the proceeds will be a mutual donation from Emily Perl Kingsley and myself to the National Down Syndrome Society.”

Freeby said that even reading it himself had a specific desired effect. Freeby’s first choice for the poem’s reading was female co-worker, Terry Aiken because it was written from a woman’s perspective. After reading the poem to her, though, Freeby said Aiken insisted that he read it because men tend to run away from the news that a child has Down syndrome.

“They take off and leave the woman with the child,” Freeby said. “And that’s a bad thing, and so they need to hear, when the mother and the father get the diagnoses, they need to have that DVD with a man’s voice that they’re in it together.”

Tony Crawford, associate professor at Hale Library, said he was impressed with the overall performance and that he liked the Holland part of the performance.

“It was certainly moving, and a wonderful message with the music involved,” Crawford said. “And then Scott Freeby’s presentation and part, that was a really nice mix.”

Crawford said he came because he is a colleague of Laurel Littrell, also a professor at Hale Library, who composed one of the selections performed by the orchestra.

“I wanted to hear it performed here in the auditorium,” Crawford said. “I heard it performed in February in Ahearn Field House, but of course that didn’t do it justice.”

Leah Watts, junior in music education, said she came because she enjoys supporting the different aspects of theatre, as well as the school of music, theatre, and dance. She said she thought this was a unique chance to hear music she enjoys and to support friends in the orchestra.

“I love orchestra…and I feel like that’s just a once a semester or twice a semester thing,” Watts said.

Freeby said he and Kingsley hope a DVD can be created from the performance to be given to doctors’ offices. When the diagnoses of Down syndrome is delivered, the DVD can be given to the parents to help them understand how their life can still be good.

“Hopefully, it will get some sponsors and they can purchase the DVDs, and then we can distribute them free of cost to doctor’s offices,” Freeby said.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.