Ad Astra Music Festival

Est. 2014 in Russell, Kansas


2018 Young artists

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Nigerian-American soprano VICTORIA LAWAL graduated from Boston University in May, having studied under the tutelage of Ms. Penelope Bitzas. Her notable scene work includes Marzelline (Fidelio), La princesse (L’enfant et les sortilèges), and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier). In 2016, she was recognized as a Fine Arts Scholar by the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C.. An alumna of the Songfest Young Artist Program, she enjoyed a summer working with Dr. Alan Louis Smith, Sanford Sylvan, and Libby Larsen, among others. A champion of new works, she presented the world premiere of I Stood Upon a Star, a commissioned chamber work for soprano, piano, and cello by Francis Snyder. Named the 2018 Soprano Young Artist, Victoria looks forward to spending her summer season at the Ad Astra Music Festival. This fall, she will begin her graduate studies in Vocal Arts at the Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles.

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ALEXANDRA GALLA is from Cedar, Michigan and graduated from Western Michigan University this spring. During her undergraduate career, she studied with Dr. Karen Kness and performed in several operas, most notably as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She placed in the state and regional NATS competitions, the Opera Grand Rapids Collegiate Vocal Competition, and the Western Michigan University Concerto Competition. As a member of the Western Michigan University Chorale, Alexandra had the opportunity to travel to the Baltic states to compete in the Kaunas Cantat where they took gold in four categories and first place in the Grand Prix. After spending her summer in Russell, KS as the Mezzo-Soprano Young Artist at the Ad Astra Music Festival, Alexandra will attend Indiana University to pursue a Master of Music in Vocal Performance.

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LOGAN BARAT, tenor, hails from Dawson, Minnesota and received his Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance in May from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. During his undergraduate career, he sang the role of Alfred in Die Fledermaus, Frederick Trumper in the musical Chess, and was a member of the Concordia College Concert Choir under the direction of Dr. René Clausen. He sang in the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Chorus, and last fall placed first in the North Dakota/Manitoba Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and won his division in the Minnesota NATS competition. In the fall, Logan will be a graduate teaching assistant at Wichita State University, studying voice with Michael Sylvester while pursuing a Master’s degree in Opera Performance.

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Baritone COOPER MCGUIRE will enter his senior year at Kansas State University this fall. He is pursuing a degree in Vocal Performance with minors in Theatre and Nonprofit Leadership Studies. At K-State he performed in various productions including The Magic Flute (Papageno), Into the Woods (The Baker), and A Christmas Carol (Christmas Present). He sings with the Concert Choir, is Manager/Music Director of the In-A-Chord acapella group, and member of the Blue Key Senior Honorary. He coaches a small piano and voice studio, serves on the Student Alumni Board, and is a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity. Cooper spent last summer in Aspen, Colorado working as the Arts Administration Apprentice for Theatre Aspen. In addition to being a Young Artist at the Ad Astra Music Festival this summer, he will attend the Berkshire Choral International Program in Baltimore performing Haydn’s The Seasons.