LETTER: Orchestra’s kids’ concert should be free to all

The Vashon Maury Chamber Orchestra performed an amazing concert twice on April 8 at the Kay White Hall. Graduating Vashon High School seniors Hugh Davis, Rhea Enzian, Ethan Sedgemore and Juliana Wright were featured soloists, along with outstanding adult artists Daniel Brandt, Lisa Lewis, Nancy Morgan and Thane Lewis. It all took place in the spectacular new performing arts center — a technological and acoustic marvel with a dazzling exhibit of John Anderson photography in the foyer.

The evening concert was jammed, but the “kids” concert was missing children and adults due, I suspect, to the $5 per child advertised admission price tag. The Vashon Maury Chamber Orchestra (VMCO) mission has always been to provide a venue and forum to inspire and encourage kids to pursue and enjoy music for its obvious benefits. In past years, admission has been free, a voluntary donation or a food bank contribution so as to not discourage attendance for lack of admission price. Five dollars to some does not sound unreasonable, but I know there were parents with children who would have attended but for this cost. For parents with multiple kids, it just gets worse. We know a large percentage (30 to 50 percent) of kids in our school system qualify for free or reduced meals, presumably due to low or no family income. The fact that, due to money, they would miss out on the opportunity to attend these truly amazing and inspiring performances by their fellow students and, at times, world-class adult performance artists, is just wrong. The small fees collected last Saturday cannot possibly be relevant to the huge budget of the Kay White Hall. I strongly urge Vashon Center for the Arts or whoever sets the admission prices to reconsider any price for the orchestra’s kids concerts.

— Jon Knudson, longtime member of VMCO