COLUMBIA — An open cello case sitting in the lobby of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts brimmed with folded checks and $20 bills. The case was accompanied not by a scruffy street musician as one might expect, but by a modest sign and a cheerful volunteer.
As part of Hot Summer Nights Music Festival, the Missouri Theatre played host to a benefit concert by the Missouri Symphony on Monday night to raise money for the Paramount Theatre, which was damaged by flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Although the concert was free, donations were encouraged, and 100 percent of the proceeds went to the Cedar Rapids Symphony.
Violinist Chloe Trevor, accompanied by pianist Natalia Bolshakova, gave a solo recital and then performed as a part of a string quartet.
“It came together quickly,” said Sarah Skaggs, director of special events and volunteer coordinator for the Missouri Theatre.
As for how much money the Missouri Symphony hopes to raise, Skaggs said “as much as we can get will be appreciated.”
The majority of concertgoers filing into the theater made donations along the way. Kirk Trevor said he hoped to see about 200 to 300 people attend the recital. With the theater more than half-full, it seemed that goal was met.
“It really hits home,” Joanne Cowan, a concert attendee, said, reflecting on what would happen if the Missouri Theatre were to flood.
The Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids was under about 9 feet of water at the crest of the flood. It suffered damage to its Wurlitzer organ and administration offices.
“At times likes this, the orchestra is more important than ever to the Cedar Rapids community,” Tim Hankewich, music director for the Cedar Rapids Symphony, said in a news release. “We will continue to provide the highest-quality orchestral music in this area.”
The Cedar Rapids Symphony’s building, which is next door to the Paramount Theatre, suffered damage as well. There, all of the computers were destroyed as well as files, brochures and music equipment, said Christy Frost, marketing director for the Cedar Rapids Symphony.
“(Our offices) are in the process of being totally gutted out,” Frost said. “Hopefully, everything is intact (on the upper floors).”
The Paramount Theatre was built in 1929 — the same year as the Missouri Theatre — and underwent about $8 million in restorations in 2004, giving it a history similar to that of the Missouri Theatre, said Kanani May, director of public relations and marketing for Missouri Theatre.
“They just restored their theatre, so we empathized,” May said.
According to May, this is the first concert the Missouri Symphony has given independently to benefit another organization, in this case the Cedar Rapids Symphony.
“Benefit concerts are things we are open to,” Kirk Trevor said. “There has to be a reason. The Iowa floods came at the right time.”
Kirk Trevor said the Missouri Symphony hadn’t been able to stage benefits in the wake of other recent disasters because of scheduling issues.
He added that this is a cause that the Missouri Symphony feels warrants its help.
“Obviously, we do events for things we feel necessary as they come,” Kirk Trevor said. “Many of us feel it could have been our theatre that was under water.”