For three weekends each July, the Ad Astra Music Festival through the Russell Arts Council 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.

Performances at recent festivals featured jazz, choral, chamber, and orchestral musicincluding Handel's Jephtha, Saul, and Samson, commissions from Michael Gilbertson and Moira Smiley, Bach cantatas, Carissimi oratorios, Schumann song cycles, masses by Byrd, Lassus, and Josquin, classic works by Bernstein, Britten, Duruflé, Dvorak, Grant Still, Haydn, and Zelenka, and new compositions from Matthew Aucoin, Adolphus Hailstork, Ellen Mandel, Libby Larsen, Mary Kouyoumdjian, James MacMillan, Nico Muhly, and Caroline Shaw.