Congratulations to Derek Kwan and his Lied Center associates for last week’s outstanding and unique celebration for the 25th anniversary of the Lied Center of Kansas.
It was a great evening with Kwan opening the program by telling the capacity audience about the many and varied activities hosted by the Center in Lawrence as well as throughout the state.
Then, he introduced the Lincoln Center Orchestra directed by Wynton Marsalis.
This highly acclaimed orchestra performed the world premiere of the “Rock Chalk Suite.” Members of the orchestra studied videos of the performance and style of 15 legends of past KU basketball teams, 13 players and James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball, and Forrest C. (Phog) Allen, the legendary coach of the Jayhawks.
Marsalis said the result of this “first of its kin”” project is a suite, a single work from many voices encompassing unprecedented diversity of concept, styles and approaches.
It was a huge success and an ideal centerpiece for the year-long celebration of the Lied’s 25th anniversary.
The vision and purpose of the Lied as outlined by Chris Hixson, who provided the fiscal foundation for the Lied, has been met in every respect. And, it continues to grow in excellence touching lives of people of all ages throughout Kansas, and gaining national attention and recognition for its excellence and broad and innovative programming.
The Lied was fortunate to have Jackie Davis as the first executive director. She had the task of putting the entire Lied Center package together, and directing the operation for a number of years followed by Fred Pawlicki, Tim Van Leer and now Derek Kwan.
Kwan has brought new vision, excellence and energy to the Lied and this has resulted in increased involvement and participation of people of all ages and highly acclaimed performances.
The Lied Center is a true jewel for the University, for Lawrence and the entire State of Kansas. It has enjoyed a marvelous first 25 years and it is important for Lawrence and Kansas University officials, as well as the general public, to protect and enhance what Chris Hixson and former KU Chancellor Gene Budig dreamed could take place on KU’s relatively empty West Campus.
Dreams can come true but it takes hard work.