I had the opportunity to pause in between tuning pianos and step into the St. John Lutheran Church in Russell where the Ad Astra High School Honor Choir is rehearsing for their concert tomorrow night, July 2, at 7:30 pm. This festival is in its second year and has already established a quality reputation for itself producing enjoyable concerts with talented young artist from across the country and area musicians. I appreciate so much the work and vision of Alex Underwood. His dream of a NW Kansas classical music festival is happening!!! Alex brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and passion as artistic director along with the expertise of co-artistic director Dr. John Irving. Katie Bruton, festival manager is a joy to work with (a recent music education graduate — she will be teaching this fall) contributes in so many different ways. She makes everyone feel comfortable and involved. Max Holman is such an important part of this festival success — he wears multiple hats: accompanist, vocal coach, choral conductor, and now composer — this high choir choir will premier one of his choral pieces — and I must say it is one of their favorites!
We need to support the arts!!! I hear folks say this thousands of times. We need to support it by taking our seats at these concerts. It takes so much energy to start something, keep it running, and produce excellence. This Ad Astra staff is doing fine work. Let’s encourage them with our presence and let them know we want to see programs like this in our area.
I am so excited to see this high school choir in our area. They not only are learning beautiful great literature but have had the opportunity to hear about music theatre from a recent graduate in music theatre at Oklahoma City University, an introduction to Baroque music, vocal technique and much more. This year the the high school ensemble has students from Hays, Russell, and Salina. I have a feeling this part of the festival is going to take off….I am already looking forward to next year.
For concert details see the ad below.
Here are what this years students are saying about their experience:
The conductors John and Alex especially are very interesting and energetic. I love the way that they feel about music and I love how passionate they are about it. — Hayden Sillmon, Tenor
While at Ad Astra, I have learned more about proper techniques while singing. It’s and honor to work with so many talented musicians. — Taya Randel, Soprano
I really like the music! I especially like “Ship To Wreck” and “Psalm for Greensburg.” — Shelby Knoll, Soprano
While attending Ad Astra, I was taught useful techniques to improve my voice and make singing more comfortable. — Ryan Will, Tenor
I think the thing I learned the most is sight reading because of the fast pace at which we must learn the music. I think learning these great complex pieces so fast will make me a better musician. — Madison Karlin
Check out the other concerts in this series: Ad Astra Music Festival