After 30 years, Chamber Music at the Barn series nears swan song

By Ted Blankenship | June 1, 2022

Three concerts this month will be the finale for Chamber Music at the Barn, nearly 30 years after Bob and Patsy Scott launched the music series at their Prairie Pines property on North Tyler Road. An accompanying youth music education program is also ending.

“It’s not something we wanted to do, that’s for sure,” Bob Scott said, “This place has been an important part of our lives for a long time. But the time comes when you have to face reality. It has been a good run, but I’m getting long in the tooth, and I can’t do this forever.” 

The final concerts, featuring Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, are scheduled for 3 p.m. June 8; 8 p.m. June 9; and 8 p.m. June 10.

Scott’s son, Kip, and daughter-in-law, Jody, will keep part of the complex open for dinner theater, and the Prairie Pines Christmas Tree Farm will continue. A recent affiliation with the Wichita Jazz Festival will continue with at least three more concerts this summer. Its future after that is undecided. 

The programming at Prairie Pines focused on chamber music but not exclusively. Wichita Symphony Orchestra musicians and regional university music faculty often appeared as did international artists such as the New Zealand String Quartet, The Four Nations Ensemble and the Boston Brass. 

“We tried a lot of things, including folk, jazz, bluegrass and such internationally acclaimed artists as Mike Marshall, Trio Globo, Darol Anger and Elana James,” Scott said. “We even tried bluegrass camps for adults, but it didn’t work out.” 

Scott gives much of the credit for the series’ success to its artistic director, Catherine Consiglio, who is professor of viola at Wichita State University and principal viola for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.

But he said musical tastes are changing and fewer middle and high school students appear interested in attending music camps. In the early 2000s, those camps attracted 60 to 70 youngsters.

“Last year we got 20 or 30,” he said.