Kauffman Center opens to much anticipation and excitement - KCTV5 News

Kauffman Center opens to much anticipation and excitement

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts is a magnificent building that was realized before the woman whose name adorns it could see it. It's the vision her daughter said was more than a dream.

Back in early 1995, Muriel Kauffman was wrapping up an interview when she was asked about the mission statement for the Kauffman Foundation and what she wanted to do with the remaining funds. She said she wanted to build a performing arts center

About five weeks later, Kauffman died and her daughter Julia Irene Kauffman took the baton from there. The single mother, with the gentle nudging of family and friends, said seeing this enormous project through became her goal.

"I'd go out and look at different properties late at night, had a sitter, there wasn't as much traffic and that's how we found this site: so beautiful, so spacious," said Julia Irene.

While the Kauffman Center is beautiful, it's also much more; it's what the building can do for our generation and many more to come.

"Education was such a passion with my father and that's part of it, bringing students in and including them," said Julia Irene Kauffman.

She said her mother and father, Ewing Kauffman, would be so proud. The Kauffmans were the founding owners of the Kansas City Royals.

"We're on budget," Julia Irene Kauffman said. "Daddy would be happy and mother would be thrilled with the acoustics and design."

She said she and experts believe Kansas City is "really ripe and ready for this kind of building and this kind of arts."

Jane Chu, CEO of the Kauffman Center, said she hears and sees many different types of reactions from people who enter the dynamic world of glass, beauty and acoustical genius. From exclamations of "wow!" to tears, she's witnessed it all when people see this new one of a kind center.

Once the center opens, many big international names will perform on its stage, among them Placido Domingo, one of the world's most celebrated tenors, world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, jazz sensation Diana Krall and many more.

When people enter the building, they can see symbols with history and meaning behind them

"The beautiful seats in the Muriel (Kauffman) Theatre are red. The red carpet outside signifies you're near the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. There's blue near Helzberg Hall because the seats are blue," said Chu.

The red carpet represents tradition in the world of theatre and the building's designer chose the royal blue carpet in honor of Kauffman.

Within the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, patrons can enter Helzberg Hall, the new home for the Kansas City Symphony. The 1,600-seat hall will welcome some of the finest orchestra, jazz and pop concerts in the world. As vast and spacious as it is, it's being headlined as an intimate and immersive experience for attendees.

"This is a completely different experience in terms of comfort, accessibility, the modern feel, there's no comparison. The real advantage is, of course, the acoustics," explains Michael Stern, the musical director for the Kansas City Symphony.

Forty percent of the seating is alongside or behind the stage, a rarity with concert halls, which allows attendees a bird's eye view of what's going on, on center stage.

"You are absolutely part of what's going on: onstage in the purest possible way, acoustically, whether sitting in front or back," explained Stern.

With any project of this size, it wasn't just one person but an entire community, namely several thousand donors, that stepped up to make the idea become a reality.

All are welcome to enjoy every note, every movement, every angle, every arch of the performing arts center this week and for many years to come.

Ticket prices start around $10 and soar upwards.

"We said we would do excellence for everyone and everyone means all walks of live, all levels of income," Chu said.

For more information on the Kauffman Center's grand opening, the open house for the public, performance schedules and more, click here

Copyright 2011 KCTV. All rights reserved.

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