Great Performances – Check These Guys Out!

In the last two weeks, the Kansas City community has had an opportunity to witness two wonderful performances. One by Alex Smith, the cerebral quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, and the other by Noah Geller, the cool and calm concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony. Mr. Smith and Mr. Geller are both 29 years old (by my calculations) and came to Kansas City after professional stints in San Francisco and Philadelphia, respectively. Mr. Geller was announced as the new concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony on March 5, 2012, and this is his second season with the orchestra. Mr. Smith came to the Kansas City Chiefs in a trade for a second round draft choice from the San Francisco 49ers on February 27, 2013. He has just completed his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs leading them to a spot in the playoffs.

On January 4th the Kansas City Chiefs, with Alex Smith at the helm, built a 38-10 lead only to see it evaporate into a 45-44 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.  Based on his wonderful performance that day, the sports pundits are now wondering how much money it will take to keep Alex in Kansas City for that long-term contract. As someone who witnessed the game first hand in about the 12th row, mid-field of the lower bowl, I can say I have never seen a quarterback make so many variety of plays with his passing arm, his excellent decision-making, and his timely running. This quarterback has great “escapability”, meaning he knows how to avoid dire trouble and continue to put the team into position to score points. He puts pressure on the defense because he can do so much. His quarterback rating was “120” and if someone had told me that the Chiefs’ quarterback would have a 120 quarterback rating in a playoff game and lose the game, I would have wanted to check their mental health status! It was a masterful performance as part of a team – utilizing all the members of the team. Mr. Smith is a very alert player who is aware of all of his options most of the time. He was under some intense pressure from the Colts defense and, for the most part, he made great play after great play. Sadly the team, as a whole, appeared to lose focus halfway through the third quarter and the Colts were just too good offensively to shut down completely for the entire game. The momentum of the game shifted quickly and suddenly the Chiefs lost their intensity and the game got away from them. Still, Alex Smith had the team in position to win but his last pass, though caught by Dwayne Bowe, was a few inches out of bounds.

On January 10th, Noah Geller performed the Beethoven Violin concerto as a featured soloist with the Kansas City Symphony. As a regular symphony attendee, one gets used to the very high and polished levels of the featured soloists. Sometimes these performances are dispassionate and almost routine. Mostly these are performers have agents and travel the world displaying their virtuosity and musicality. Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was packed, and there was an air of anticipation for Mr. Geller’s performance.  Did he ever deliver! What a talent this young man possesses. The brochure summarizing the program mentioned Mr. Geller’s musical prowess, and this was no overstatement. It was nuanced and thoughtful, forceful when it needed to be so, and downright playful. There was clear enjoyment by the musicians supporting one of their own and a conductor willing to follow the carefully chosen tempos. Mr. Geller’s playing was lucid and measured – but also exciting. The Beethoven Violin concerto is a long piece (at least 40 minutes in length) but the musical architecture provided by the orchestra under the direction of Michael Stern made it seem as if this team was playing together in a seamless manner. There was an eruption of spontaneous applause and my wife, Rita, who had begun the evening a little fatigued, was brought back to life by this performance. Bravo!

Kansas City has excellence on the playing field (seen by hundreds of thousands on television) and in the concert call – but the musical talent is much more hidden from the public. For some, classical music is an acquired taste but if one can take a moment and compare these two young men, you will see that both Mr. Smith and Mr. Geller are at the top of their game and worth appreciating. A lot of folks follow football with a keen eye.  Perhaps now it is time to develop our ears as well, and listen to the wonderful music being played at the Kauffman Center.  My thanks to Mr. Smith and Mr. Geller for two very memorable performances.  Everything is up to date in Kansas City!

Lamar Hunt Jr