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'A dream come true': Central orchestra to give first concert in new auditorium Tuesday
Cape Girardeau Central High School orchestras are warming up for their first concert in the multimillion dollar Richard D. Kinder Performance Hall.
The freshman and high school orchestras will perform their annual Winter Music Concert in the Broadway-style theater, complete with orchestra pits and state-of-the art lighting and acoustical systems.
Richard D. Kinder, chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan, a major North American energy storage and pipeline transportation company, is a 1962 graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School. He and his wife Nancy in 2012 donated $1 million to the development of the auditorium.
This donation allowed the school to add a balcony, bumping the available number of seats in the auditorium to 1,000.
Jim Welker, superintendent of Cape Girardeau Public Schools, said he is incredibly grateful for the Kinders' generosity.
"I think it's important to thank the Kinders for their help in enhancing the hall," Welker said. "This is a really great opportunity for our students and something I think everyone will be proud of."
According to Steve Schaffner, orchestra leader at Central High School, this is the first time in more than a decade the school's orchestras have had the opportunity to perform together "like an actual concert."
"We were supposed to build a performance theater years ago, but then the economy really went down," Schaffner said.
Central High School principal Dr. Mike Cowan said the opening of Kinder Performance Hall is a "dream come true" for faculty and students since the high school's move to a new campus in 2002.
"It's been a goal ever since we came to this campus to have our own performing arts center," Cowan said. "Now, there will be generations of students who will be introduced to and educated in the arts in Kinder Hall."
Less than two years ago, the school opened its new football field, Tiger Stadium, which received "great community response," according to Cowan. He said Central High school hopes to see a similar response for the auditorium.
Welker agreed, saying that the auditorium "finishes out" all the additions and changes the campus has seen during the past decade.
Schaffner said he and the students are excited to play in their own auditorium after years of hosting concerts in the school's gymnasium or lunchroom, where the poor acoustics "really detracted" from the performances.
Cowan said he also is looking forward to hosting performances "at home" in a true auditorium.
"We held a few events at other facilities like Bedell [Performance Hall] or the Central Junior High auditorium, and we're incredibly grateful for their generosity," Cowan said. "But it's nice to finally have our own building."
Central High School will show off the many sides of Kinder Performance Hall with three musical events Cowan refers to as the "inaugural concert series."
This series kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the orchestra's concert. The choir will perform March 5, followed by the band's concert March 7, both at 7 p.m.
Each performance also will feature a "student matinee" to give each musical group the opportunity to perform for their peers during school hours.
"It's a really great opportunity for the performers," Cowan said. "But exposure to the arts is an important part of education for our other students as well."
1000 S. Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO