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Ad Astra presents virtual choirs and a sneak peek of the Trudy Furney Opera

RUSSELL — The final performances of Ad Astra Music Festival’s 2020 virtual season take place this weekend. The festival continues to bring outstanding music to its audience by streaming performances free of charge on its Facebook page, @adastramusicfestival. Music lovers from across the globe can enjoy these final concerts without ever having to leave their homes. 

First, at 7:30 p.m. today, Ad Astra presents a performance by the High School and Community Virtual Choirs. Ad Astra is proud to have given high school students from around the world the opportunity to perform a cappella pop and jazz arrangements in small groups. Over the course of two weeks, the students were led by industry professionals to explore the styles, trends, and approaches to this genre. When asked about her experience with this program, Caitlin Leiker, a senior at Hays High School, said “The A Cappella Intensive was such a fun and engaging learning experience! I feel like Ad Astra is really rising above the odds by finding new ways to overcome our world’s circumstances through collaborative projects such as this. I know I can speak for the other participants by saying how much we appreciate the time and effort that went into it. After participating in other virtual attempts to recreate the choir experience, Ad Astra provided something the others didn’t—connection.” Following the High School Virtual Choir, the Russell Community Choir will sing the finale to the night’s performance. Tune in to be inspired by the next generation of musicians.

Finishing off the 2020 virtual season at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Ad Astra presents “Trudy Furney Opera: A Sneak Peak.” Composer Anna Pidgorna and librettist Maria Reva were commissioned to create an opera about the life of beloved Russell High School art teacher Trudy Furney. The opera will be premiered in full next year at Prairiesta, but this year Ad Astra is giving its audience a sneak peak that provides a look at their creative process, complete with interviews and sketches, and culminating with a workshop performance of scenes from the opera. Katelyn Mattson-Levy, set to play Trudy herself, said, “The more I learn about the life of Trudy, the more I learn to love the woman behind the stories. Her legacy is still fresh in the minds and hearts of students and her community, and this opera is a portrait of those memories.” 

Ad Astra offers 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, programs are available on the website ( for $10 each. Programs may also be purchased in person at Espresso, Etc. and at the Russell County Economic Development Office. 

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.