Eighteen years ago, several friends and I concocted the notion that our community might appreciate a new small orchestra with a mission “to make first-rate music fun, approachable and affordable.” We thought that by mixing the unusual and less familiar with a bit of the tried and true, and by creating a less formal concert atmosphere, we might bring new audiences to classical music and perhaps enliven the interest of some for whom our art form may have become a bit stuffy and stale. How well we have succeeded can best be judged by those who have attended our concerts. It has been an exhilarating ride, which has lasted far longer than any of us expected.
The Prairie Ensemble could not have existed without the many wonderful people who have served on our board and volunteered in other ways; the hundreds of generous individuals who found us worthy to receive their financial donations; the businesses who have supported us as sponsors and advertisers and with in-kind contributions of various sorts; the venues—mostly churches—who have hosted our concerts; the skilled designers, photographers, webmasters, printers and other professionals who have worked on our behalf; those who have assisted in any way to make our concerts happen; and everyone who has ever come to hear us perform. My profound thanks to one and all.
Of course there can be no music without musicians. And so we dedicated our final concert on July 19 to all the tremendously talented community, professional and student musicians who have played in the orchestra and appeared as soloists over the years. It has been my pleasure and great privilege to work with all of you.