Raúl Munguia likens his job to that of a magician. When the spotlight is hot, a paying audience is in their seats and his wand is primed and ready, it’s time for a show.
“It’s the job of the conductor to manage the magic on stage,” said Munguia, the Music Director and Conductor of the Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University. “My wand is the silent instrument.”
Munguia is now in his seventh year as an associate professor of music and the symphony conductor at PSU, and there’s actually been no trickery involved in the way he has built the program, just a lot of hard work, relationship building and nurturing of talent.
“I was hired to energize (the symphony),” he explained. “Music is totally different than teaching a regular class. It goes well beyond the classroom. It’s about collaboration and bringing the best out of the students.”
Down-Home Dinner Theater
Chicken-N-Pickin’ serves up food and fun with family at the forefront
Spend one afternoon at Chicken-N-Pickin’ outside of Walnut, and you’ll experience a lot of knee-slapping, toe-tapping, dancing, finger-licking and comments like: “That’s the best fried chicken I’ve had in ages.”
Folks just can’t get enough of this down-home dinner theater, which always features an old-fashioned fried chicken dinner with all the fixins’, plus two hours of live music and comedy. Visitors come by the bus load – from Topeka, Kansas City, Wichita, Springfield – and by the time they leave they’re hooked, hailing Chicken-N-Pickin’ as “comparable to a Branson, Mo., experience – absent the crowds, traffic congestion, long drive and high prices.”
Karen Duling-Zitsch is the woman behind it all: acting as hostess, chef and country music entertainer. She comes by it honestly…
Want to keep reading about Chicken-N-Pickin’? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.
Welcome to Neewollah
Annual celebration back in a big way this Halloween
Reverse the word “Halloween”; what do you get?
Much more than a jumble of letters, as Independence natives well know.
In fact, Neewollah is a 100-year-old nine-day festival in Independence, billed as the state’s largest annual celebration. And it’s back in a big way for 2015.
Photo courtesy of the Independence Chamber of Commerce
“I’m always a fan of everything at Neewollah, but this year, the Oak Ridge Boys performing and Jim Halsey being my honorary generalissimo – those are the big things I’m really looking forward to,” says John Hamlin, Neewollah’s 2015 generalissimo, who heads up the event. “I always knew that if I ever became generalissimo for Neewollah that I’d want to have the Oak Ridge Boys and Jim involved.”
That’s because both have deep roots in Independence and Neewollah. In fact, Halsey – an Independence native who’s gone on to become a well-known music agent and artist manager – was one of a handful of men who revived Neewollah back in 1958 after it fell off the map in the 1930s. The celebration has occurred annually ever since…
Want to keep reading about Neewollah? Check out the fall issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.
Photo courtesy of Mark Dunlap
The Bowlus Fine Arts Center is celebrating 50 years in Iola
Decades ago, banker Thomas H. Bowlus left most of his estate to one bold vision: the construction of a world-class fine arts and cultural center in his small hometown of Iola.
Today, as the Bowlus Fine Arts Center celebrates its 50th anniversary season, it’s probably safe to say that Mr. Bowlus would be pleased with how his visionary gift has met – and possibly exceeded – all expectation.
“The one thing for me is just the inspiration of it all; that word to me is what it’s all about,” says Susan Raines, executive director of the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. “Mr. Bowlus was very interested in music … and he really wanted the students and the community to be proud of this.”
Opened in 1964 at 205 E. Madison – the first community arts center in the state of Kansas – the Bowlus Fine Arts Center has indeed been a source of pride for Iola residents over the past five decades…
Want to keep reading about the Bowlus Fine Arts Center? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, which is out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.
Larry Brockway’s Hall of Fame Studio is a hit in Neodesha
Rodney Lay likes to say that Larry Brockway has big ears.
Just not in the way you’re thinking.
“He can just hear what sounds right,” says Lay, of “Hee Haw” and Rodney & the Blazers fame. “I’ve recorded with some of the best in the business, and this guy is right there with them. I tell you what, Larry is really, really a fine engineer and record producer.”
And Brockway’s equally lauded Hall of Fame Studio is based right here in Southeast Kansas. Not Nashville or New York – but Neodesha.
“He’s just a phenomenon for this part of the country,” Lay says. “When you think about all the people he’s brought to the state, he’s been a well-kept secret for all these years – a great treasure for Southeast Kansas.”
Musicians for Merle Haggard, Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney: They’ve come from Nashville, Los Angeles – all over the country – to record specifically with Brockway at Hall of Fame Studio. Brockway has recognized all along that there’s something special about his small-town space, and everyone who records there has to agree…
Want to keep reading about Hall of Fame Studio? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, which is out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.
Photo courtesy of Angelyn Hobson, taken at Murphy’s Landing in Stark
With their timeless music and effortless melodies, the Vogts Sisters are capturing SEK’s attention
Russ Head has heard it all before. He’s been in the music business almost his whole life, after all – as an audio engineer, a musician and even an instructor of recording arts.
But last spring, Head says he encountered something special. He watched from the crowd at Katy Days in Parsons as two young women – sisters from Erie – made their singing debut as a duo. He was amazed at what he heard.
As he says, these girls could actually sing.
“There was a whole different level of reality to what they were doing,” Head says. “Very few people nowadays sing in a manner that’s real, and they’re just real – real as dirt. So it was really refreshing to see the girls up there just singing and have something honest come out. It’s like – everybody needs to hear that.”
Maggie and Abigail Vogts say they didn’t expect much out of that first competition performance; they knew they weren’t going to win.
As it turns out, they got something much better…
Want to keep reading about the Vogts Sisters of Erie? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you. (And stay tuned to this blog for more sneak peeks!)