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Ad Astra Music Festival announces 2020 virtual season

RUSSELL — The Ad Astra Music Festival will offer its sixth summer of collaborative concerts and celebration of community, this year using a virtual format. Despite the ongoing pandemic, Ad Astra is committed to bringing exceptional and diverse performances to the communities of western Kansas, sponsors said. The 2020 season features four unique performances spanning two weekends in July. All performances will be streamed live and archived on the Ad Astra Music Festival Facebook page (@adastramusicfestival), free of charge.

The first performance, “Young Artists at Home,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 17. This performance features the undergraduate voice students of the Ad Astra young artist program. Curated by Katelyn Mattson-Levy, “Young Artists at Home” features performers sharing their voices from their own living rooms.

Next, Ad Astra has commissioned composer Andrew Rodriguez to create an original work entitled “Scattered Inheritance,” featuring flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, piano and voice. This piece will be premiered in real time and streamed live at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, 

The following weekend, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 24, Ad Astra will stream a performance from the High School and Community Virtual Choir. High school students from around the country will collaborate to perform a cappella, pop, and jazz arrangements in small groups, coached by industry professionals. Tune in to be inspired by the next generation of musicians. The Russell Community Choir will sing the finale in the virtual choir format. The Community Choir is open to anyone willing to commit to the rehearsal and performance schedule and is led by artistic director and Russell native Alex Underwood. Anyone who would like to take part in the Community Choir is advised to keep an eye on Ad Astra’s website ( as registration will be open soon.

Closing out the 2020 season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, will be a sneak peak of the upcoming Trudey Furney Opera. The festival has commissioned composer Anna Pidgorna and librettist Maria Reva to create an opera about the life of beloved Russell High School art teacher Trudy Furney. This sneak peek will be prerecorded in person featuring local Kansas artists and streamed live. Viewers will get an inside look into the creative process, complete with interviews and sketches. This live stream culminates with a workshop performance of scenes from the opera, to be premiered in full at Prairiesta next year.

While the festival is headquartered in Russell, this new virtual format will allow viewers worldwide to enjoy these outstanding performances. Ad Astra is proud to be able to offer these live streamed performances free of charge on its official Facebook page. 

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.