By Tyler Schneider
The First Baptist Church of KCMO is bringing the widely recognized A-Flat Youth Orchestra of Kansas City home on Sunday, February 27, at 3 p.m., for a concert in conjunction with the church’s month long Black History Month celebration.
Featured on the NBC Today Show and in several local media outlets, the A-Flat Youth Orchestra has performed in such storied venues as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Jazz Museum’s historic Gem theater for the KC-BUF Kwanzaa Celebration.
Founded in 2016 by Darryl Chamberlain Sr., the seeds for the group were actually planted much earlier, when he started buying secondhand musical instruments off eBay, from pawn shops, and fixing them up as early as 2005.
“Over a period of years, I eventually got enough instruments for two concert bands. I started giving music lessons in 2007. It was an orchestra, then, but kids grow up and graduate and move on off to college. Within three years, we did not have enough people for all the parts of an orchestra, so we could call it an ensemble,” Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain took a break from teaching as he pursued his teaching certification from 2012 through 2015. In 2016, his A-Flat Music Studio began putting together the pieces for what is now the A-Flat Youth Orchestra.
About 20 of the group’s 30 or so students will perform at the First Baptist Church on February 27.
“It’s going to be a mixture of music, from spiritual, to a little gospel, some folk tunes, jazz, and blues,” Chamberlain said. “It’s going to be a setlist that encompasses the whole of the American experience in music.”
While the A-Flats are booked for another show at the Kauffman Center in June, they are always looking for more members as they hope to have the numbers to form a complete orchestra in the very near future.
“It’s important if we can get the word out that we are looking for more students to grow to the size of a full orchestra. Our lessons are among the cheapest in the city, and our teachers have a high level of competence in what they do,” Chamberlain said.
The February 27 performance will start at 3:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church (100 West Red Bridge Rd). The venue will observe citywide COVID protocols—including the requirement of masks—and social distancing will be observed for the safety of all attendees.
“Come to experience music from the full spectrum of the diaspora of African-American culture. This will be an event that brings joy and hope in the future of music performance and expression by the Youth of the Kansas City vicinity. The A-Flat Youth Orchestra promises to bring an afternoon of excitement and inspiration with something for everyone to enjoy,” co-pastor Rev. Dezo Schreiner said.
The show will be free to attend, though a free-will offering for the youth orchestra will be taken at the close of the performance. Those interested in learning more about the organization and future events can visit www.aflatmusicstudio.com.