By Paul Thompson
Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of thousands of people would be daunting enough. But playing it alongside fellow student musicians in front of TV cameras and thousands of fans at Kauffman Stadium? That takes courage, and it was mustered by the musicians of Harmony Project KC before a Kansas City Royals game on Sunday, August 6.
Carmen Espinosa – the Project Manager of the Harmony Project KC after-school music program housed at the Northeast Community Center (544 Wabash Avenue) – tried to describe the magical experience of seeing her students play the national anthem at Kauffman Stadium for “Art Day at the K.”
“Oh my goodness, I cannot describe it,” Espinosa said. “It was unreal. I went home, and I just said, ‘Did that really happen?’”
After the performance, the students ventured back into the below-stadium tunnel to grab their instrument cases. When they resurfaced, they were greeted with a hearty round of applause from parents who, like Espinosa, were overwhelmed with pride.
“The kids were great. They were excited, and the parents were so proud,” Espinosa said. “When they came back to the stadium to meet their parents, all the parents were clapping and cheering. That brought tears to my eyes.”
Harmony Project KC began roughly two years ago with only 30 students. Now at the dawn of the 2017-2018 school year, 140 students are enrolled in the program. All of the students either live or study in the Historic Northeast. The performance at Kauffman Stadium is yet another feather in the cap for the student musicians, who have also performed at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and played alongside the Kansas City Symphony at a Kansas City Museum concert.
So will another rendition of the national anthem before a Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium be next?
“If they want us, we will go,” Espinosa said with a laugh. “I just think that giving them these kinds of opportunities as often as we can…going through that experience with their colleagues brings them together in a way that few things can.”