WaterFire finale: Fire Bird Suite for drummers, keyboards, strings and voice

WaterFire Kansas City, scheduled for Saturday evening along Brush Creek, brings together fire, water and music in one large public art event. A variety of musical performers will be doing their magic along the creek as living fire sculptures float down the creek. And this year, there’s a great finale planned that should be quite a spectacle.

Those who pace themselves at WaterFire on Saturday night will be in for a treat – a grand finale the likes of which have never been seen on Brush Creek.

Wayne Hawkins, a pianist, keyboardist and member of the jazz faculty at the University of Kansas, arranged the finishing number. Although Hawkins has written for films and commercials and played in numerous indoor and outdoor venues, he says this performance will be unique.

Wayne Hawkins

Hawkins was asked to put together a big musical piece that would incorporate opera singers, a string quartet, and 12 drummers. He said his wife, the singer Sylvia Stoner, had the idea to adapt Stravinsky’s Fire Bird Suite. Hawkins arranged the piece to make use of the performers he had to work with. The voices will handle the melody (Stoner wrote some lyrics) and Hawkins will cover a lot of the parts on the keyboard.

The finale performers will be stretch out up and down the creek. The singers will be on the bridge; drummers on the middle stage; and Hawkins and others will be on the Wornall Bridge. Irish folk singer Eddie Delahunt kicks off the piece, which is then picked up by jazz sax player Dennis Winslett before the whole ensemble kicks in. And in the middle, the drummers take over.

Hawkins says Brush Creek provided inspiration for the work. “I still remember going to jazz concerts there. I think it’s beautiful what they’ve done to restore the creek,” he said. “It will be a kick to be a part of it.”

Brush Creek Community Partners is the producer of WaterFire Kansas City.

 Performance times, programs and more 

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