Ad Astra Music Festival

Est. 2014 in Russell, Kansas

2019 young artists

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CHRISTINA HAN is a soprano specializing in Renaissance, Baroque, and modern music. She was born and raised in Queens, New York; she attended LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and the Mannes School of Music preparatory division. Currently, she is a candidate for a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance at Westminster Choir College, studying with Margaret Cusack. She is a devoted chorister, serving as a member of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, Kantorei, and the namesake Westminster Choir. In addition, she is a passionate sacred musician, working as the Music Minister/Organist at Christ Congregation in Princeton, New Jersey, as well as a soprano of the Lux Choir of the Episcopal Church of Princeton. Over the past year, Christina was a soloist at the Lindsey Christiansen Art Song Festival where she performed Tonia Ko’s “Smoke and Distance,” was a chorister for Handel’s Messiah with both the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and performed the role of First Spirit (Die Zauberflöte) at Westminster. Future performances include the Mozart Requiem (NYP), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (NYP), Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles (Spoleto Festival), and other solo performances.

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GRACE VOLKER, mezzo-soprano, is a Hays, Kansas native and graduated from Kansas State University in May with a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance, studying under Dr. Patricia Thompson. Throughout her collegiate career, her roles included Third Lady (The Magic Flute), The Cat Lady (Speed Dating Tonight) and most recently Ruth (The Pirates of Penzance). She has annually advanced into the semifinal rounds of the Western Region NATS competitions, placing in the 2018 finals and advancing to the National NATS competition. Last summer, she studied in the opera studio of the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. This fall, she will begin studies for her Master of Music degree at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

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BO SHIMMIN is a tenor hailing from Tucson, Arizona. In May, he will graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He has been seen in productions by DePauw Opera and Theatre as Le doyen de la Faculté (Cendrillon), Pablo (Sister Act), and Daniel Buchanan (Street Scene). Last summer, he portrayed Tobias in Hawaii Performing Arts Festival’s production of Sweeney Todd. He spent the spring of 2018 in Milan, Italy, studying with soprano Patrizia Zanardi. In the summer of 2017, he performed with Opera in the Ozarks company in over 25 shows, including Trouble Man (Jack and the Beanstalk), chorus (Carmen), chorus (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Tamino in their scenes program. In 2016, he earned an internship as a festival staffer for Central City Opera in Colorado. He is currently studying with Andre Campelo and Laura Brumbaugh.


JACOB LAY, bass-baritone, is from Ellenwood, Georgia, and studies vocal performance at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, under Professor Bruce Brown. Entering his senior year, he has performed in five operas at Simpson, including as John Brooke (Little Women) and Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea). This fall he placed second in the Iowa District NATS Student Auditions and sang the baritone solo in Saint-Saëns’ Oratorio de Noël. He is a member of the chamber choir and madrigal singers at Simpson College, the latter formerly conducted by Dr. Robert Larsen. Jacob plays the violin and piano and enjoys them as much as he enjoys singing. He also has enjoyed success with composition, winning the GMEA Student Composition Contest three times, placing third in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Student Composition Competition, and winning the NAfME Student Composers Contest with his works for instrumental ensembles.