HAYS, KS - Sometimes it is the combination of who and what you know along with a desire to share them both that create the best programs.
Dr. Elinor Freer, assistant professor of music at Fort Hays State University, has used that exact combination to form the Cottonwood Music Project. The project is a group of six musicians who will come together for a week-long residency in a number of capacities within the city of Hays from March 31 through April 7.
"Our purpose is to go into the schools (and other entities) and do music education programs in classical music for the people. We will also show them what we do as musicians," Freer said.
The project is the brainchild of Freer, who wrote a grant proposal to the Kansas Arts Commission and brought together some of her friends and colleagues who she thought would be interested.
"We want to present live musical events using a variety of string and wood instruments," Freer said.
Guest artists for the project will be Jorge Avila, violin; Anna Carney, clarinet; Alison Freedy, flute; Sarah Roth, cello; and Dean Kranzler, percussion, Freer joins the group on piano. Freer said the Cottonwood project is an important and exciting step towards bringing more live music into the Hays community and towards developing new audiences.
Artists will spend the week in Hays visiting and performing in local elementary schools, the Sterling House and Hays Medical Center. The project cumulates in two public chamber music concerts on Thursday and Friday, April 6 and 7, at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on the FHSU campus. Performances begin at 7 p.m. both evenings.
Thursday's concert, "Bach to Brahms," will feature chamber music of Bach, Brahms and American composers Robert Musczynski and Henry Cowell. Friday's concert, "Twos and Threes," will present music of Poulenc, Beethoven and Mendelssohn.
Tickets for the concerts are $6 for adults and $4 for senior citizens and high school students FHSU students and children under 12 will be admitted free.
Widespread interest, enthusiasm and financial support from many organizations already exists for the project, including major funding from Southwestern Bell and the Kansas Arts Commission. Other support is being provided by Commerce Bank, the Mid-America Arts Alliance, Fort Hays State University, Wal-Mart, Heartland Dermatology and Anesthesiologist Associates of Hays.
"The value of bringing music into the public schools in this age of decreased arts funding is immeasurable. By having the students actively participate in musical discovery alongside the performers, we will stimulate their interest and open their ears," Freer said.
Avila is a native of Honduras who currently resides in New York City. He performs with Philharmonia Virtuosi, Prism Ensemble, Musicians' Accord and many other outstanding performing groups. He has won prizes in international violin competitions and will travel later this year to Costa Rica for performances of Tchaikovsky's violin concerto.
Roth is also a resident of New York City and principal cellist of Philharmonia Virtuosi. Concert tours have taken her to Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Iceland and Japan. In the United States, she has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Carney is a former FHSU faculty member who currently instructs clarinet at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Texas. She has performed extensively throughout the United States and Canada both as a soloist and in orchestral music.
Freedy has won many prizes in prestigious flute competitions and was one of two Americans selected to perform in Japan at the Fourth Annual Flute Competition. She is a busy performer in the Ohio area and teaches on the faculty of Ohio University in Athens.
Kranzler is on the percussion faculty at FHSU, Bethany College, Kansas Wesleyan and Tabor College. He performs frequently throughout western Kansas with such groups as the Salina Symphony, Jazz Tangent, The Blades and the Acme Fife and Drum Ensemble.
For more information contact the Department of Music at (785) 628-4533.