RUSSELL — This weekend marks the beginning of Ad Astra Music Festival’s 2020 Virtual Season.
While many other festivals and concerts have had to cancel their performances due to COVID-19, Ad Astra has found an innovative new way to continue bringing first-rate shows to their audience. This year Ad Astra is streaming its performances live on its Facebook page free of charge so that music lovers worldwide can enjoy a fantastic group of artists from the comfort of their own homes.
Kicking off the festival on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CDT, is Ad Astra’s presentation of Young Artists at Home. This performance features four undergraduate voice students: Elary Mede, Thereza Lituma, Graham Brooks, and Cole Bellamy. Curated by Katelyn Mattson-Levy, this performance will feature our young artists sharing their voices from their own living rooms. The young artists each selected works for their performances that reflect how they feel in these uncertain times.
When asked about her decision to perform The Swimmer Thereza Lituma said, “I fell in love with Edward Elgar's Sea Pictures around the same time that I decided to become a voice performance major. To me, this set has always symbolized humanity, fear, and fascination with the Great Unknown; while the future of our musical craft seems so uncertain now, the music community is resilient and we will see calm waters again.”
Ad Astra prides itself on providing undergraduate voice students with professional performance opportunities in a time when live performances are scarce.
Next, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CDT, Ad Astra will premier its new commissioned work by composer Andrew Rodriguez, Scattered Inheritance. The work will feature flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, piano, and voice.
When asked about how he approached composing a piece meant to be performed in a socially-distant manner, Rodriguez said, “From its inception, I knew Scattered Inheritance would be a piece about finding a path through the fragments and distractions of life. I turned to Jeremy De La Rosa's poetry once again because his texts are comforting and ever-inviting to me. I read all of his works and picked out phrases and words that struck me. It was from these fragments that I pieced together the text used in the piece. Likewise, the music mimics this technique of piecing together fragments to create a larger portrait.”
The virtual format of this performance has afforded us with the unique opportunity to commission visual artist Xuan to create a piece that will flow through the background of each musician’s streamed video. This combination of audio and visual elements creates a one-of-a-kind performance only available online.
Ad Astra noted that it is proud to be able to offer these streamed performances free of charge on their official Facebook page. If you’d like to support the Ad Astra Music Festival or get a physical souvenir for this year’s virtual performances, they are now selling programs on their website (adastramusicfestival.org) for $10 each. Programs may also be purchased in person at Espresso, Etc. and at the Russell County Economic Development Office in Russell.
The Ad Astra Music Festival was established in 2014 by Russell native Alex Underwood. Each July, Ad Astra colors central Kansas with classical music by integrating emerging young artists, community members, and professional musicians. Audiences have come to expect fresh, new music alongside vibrant performances of history’s richest musical works of art. Ad Astra is dedicated to making this festival of and for the people of Russell as we annually collaborate with local visual artists, poets, and musicians to design meaningful creative experiences.