Our Team


Interview with Shannon Finney

Kansas City has changed a lot since Shannon Finney first arrived two decades ago. Upon arriving from Chicago, she wondered if she was even going to like this area. That’s changed.

“Kansas City is not the same place as when I arrived,” she says. “There is an upward trajectory; Kansas City is making an investment in itself. We have a lot of amenities now that weren’t here before.”

At least one reason Kansas City is a better place is because Shannon and people like her have made their own investments in this area. The Kansas City Symphony, where Shannon is associate principal flutist, brings “astonishing intellectual capital” to this community. The musicians there are “so diverse and interesting. They keep me honest and growing.”

Shannon employs her intellectual energy in her role as one of the people who selects the music to be performed by Summerfest.

Summerfest: This year’s theme is, “to everything there is a season.” When you begin planning a season, do you choose a theme and then select music to fit?
Shannon: No. The page is completely blank. There is no formula. Sometimes we will begin noticing a connection between pieces of music. Sometimes we will have a guest artist who brings a particular piece to our attention. Sometimes we are fairly deep into the process before a theme emerges.

Summerfest: So, how do you start planning for the upcoming Summerfest season?
Shannon: We have a lengthy list of music which we review. Sometimes one of Summerfest’s Artistic Committee members will discover a piece that should be considered, so we add it to the list. Sometimes members of the audience will suggest something. We start looking for music which is somehow related in a way that would make an interesting program.

Summerfest: What do you look for when choosing music?
Shannon: We look for works that speak to us in some way. We are partial to works that we consider to be deserving but that may not have gained a wide audience. Consequently, many of the works we program have not previously been performed in Kansas City.

Summerfest: What do you find most enjoyable about Summerfest?
Shannon: Shannon:   Rule #1: Have fun with the music. The audience will know when you’re enjoying what you are playing. When we have fun with the music, it brings out the greatest success in our personal performance.

Summerfest: Are there any such works that you are looking especially forward to this summer?
Shannon: We’re performing “Yangtze! Yangtze!” and Wissahickon poeTrees on the August 2/3 program. In addition to playing the flute, I’ll be playing the alto flute and water glasses with crochet needles.

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