ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE Benjamin Cline is an American cellist who has performed in dozens of venues in the United Stated, Europe, Eastern Europe, and Asia. He has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, including the Kaohsuing City Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, was featured in performance on Public Radio’s WXXI “Live from Hochstein” in Rochester, and has collaborated with many noted musicians, including Yumi Hwang-Williams, Theodor Kuchar, Richard Fuchs, and Tali Morgulis. A highly versatile musician, he has performed as recitalist, soloist, orchestral principal, and chamber musician, spanning 17th century works of Gabrielli to 21st century electroacoustic works for cello. Benjamin currently teaches Fort Hays State University as Associate Professor of Cello and Bass, and serves as Department Chair. He studied with Alan Harris at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Jim Fittz at the University of Northern Colorado. Master classes and additional studies were undertaken with Norman Fischer, Gordon Epperson, Anne Epperson, and members of the Cleveland and Juilliard String Quartets. Benjamin resides in Hays, KS with his wife and enjoys spending his free time gardening, fishing, and cooking. He plays on an Italian cello by Luigi Bajoni.
ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE Max Holman is the Upper and Middle School Chorus Teacher at Norfolk Collegiate School, where he directs four choirs and teaches music theory. He sings tenor in the Virginia Chorale and is active as a freelance musician throughout Hampton Roads. Most recently, Max sang tenor with Madrid-based chamber choir Salix Cantor and was assistant conductor of Coro Talía. Max has conducted in collaboration with New Music New Haven, was conductor of the Chamber Singers of the Yale Glee Club, and served as assistant conductor of the Yale Glee Club, New Haven Ballet Orchestra, Yale Alumni Chorus, Yale Camerata, and the All-City Honors Chorus. While attending the Castleton Festival, Max directed the chorus of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 under the late Maestro Lorin Maazel. An avid ballet accompanist and improviser, Max has played for American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School, New Haven Ballet, Lustig Dance Theatre, Mason Gross School of the Arts, and New Jersey School of Ballet. Max received his master's degree in choral conducting from the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where he was awarded the Hugh Porter Scholarship and the Hugh Giles Prize, and his bachelor's in music education from Rutgers University. Please visit maxholman.net to learn more.
ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE and American soprano Aani Bourassa is a versatile actress of emotional depth, praised for her “brilliant, yet sparkling high notes”. In addition to her artist-in-residency at the Ad Astra Music Festival, noteworthy engagements this season include Gianetta in L’elisir d’amore with Bel Cantanti Opera and a world premiere performance with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra of works by composer Griffin Candey. She is found frequently performing with a variety of ensembles in the DC-Metro Area. Aani trained at the Capital University Conservatory of Music and the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. Her repertoire includes: Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Fiordiligi (Così fan tutte), Female Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia), and Juliette (Roméo et Juliette). Equally comfortable in recital and concert settings she has performed the soprano solos in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Bach’s Magnificat, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Bach’s Cantata 140, Schubert Mass in G, Vivaldi’s Gloria, George Crumb’s Madrigal 2and Steve Reich’s So-drumming. Aani is a champion of new and undiscovered music, and is currently involved in a collaborative project to rediscover and record the vocal works of composer Carl Czerny with pianist Samuel Gingher. In addition to her busy performing schedule, Ms. Bourassa works as the project manager for Acis Productions. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband.
ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE Katelyn Mattson-Levy, mezzo-soprano, has been recognized as an artist of great passion and sensitivity. Katelyn is a two-time award winner of the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Competition at the district level, first place recipient in the National Opera Association Competition, and a finalist in both the International Contemporary Opera Competition and Liederkrantz Foundation Competition. Operatic roles include Contessa Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Micaela in Carmen, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Mimi in La Bohème, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Lady Billows in Albert Herring, and Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus. Last summer she made her debut as a mezzo-soprano at the Ad Astra Music Festival, singing the role of Storgé in Handel's Jephtha.
On the concert stage, Katelyn has proven herself a recitalist of the highest caliber, described as "...performing with deeply emotional perspective" by the Bellingham Herald. Katelyn has performed with the Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Kansas, Cincinnati Opera, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Musica Sacra of Cincinnati, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Southern Illinois Music Festival, and the Bellingham Festival of Music. Katelyn received her training at Wichita State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music. She is a native of Sterling, KS and is an announcer with Kansas Public Radio.
Michael Davidson holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree in Voice from Loyola University New Orleans and a Master’s of Music degree in Voice from the University of Kansas. While at the University of Kansas, he was on stage in several operas including playing the role of Ferando in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. Professionally, he has sung with both the New Orleans Opera and The Kansas City Lyric Opera choruses, as well as the Eutin Summer Opera Festival in Eutin, Germany. Michael has performed now in two choruses accompanying Placido Domingo, and has worked with some of the nation’s foremost vocal coaches including John Wustman, Martin Katz, Russell Miller, and Leonardo Vordoni. Currently Michael teaches vocal music at Russell High School and Ruppenthal Middle School. Michael’s most recent projects include directing/producing Cinderella at RHS and directing music for Godspell at Barton County Community College.
Janie Brokenicky is Instructor of Music at Kansas State University, teaching applied voice and music theory. Prior to joining KSU, Brokenicky spent three years as Assistant Professor of Choral Music at Tabor College in Hillsboro, KS and taught at Riley County High School for five years in Riley, KS. Under her direction, the Riley County Women's Choir performed at KMEA in 2009 and the Concert Choir received first place in the Worlds of Fun Choral Competition in 2010 and 2012. Teaching honors include the 2009 Kansas Horizon Award for outstanding achievement as a first year teacher and the 2010 KCDA Young Director of the Year. Janie is also co-founder of the Flint Hills Children's Choirs, based out of Manhattan, KS. The organization is currently comprised of two treble-voiced choirs spanning grades 3-10 in Manhattan and surrounding communities. In April 2016 the Konza Choir performed Carmina Burana with the K-State Choirs and Kansas City Ballet at the Kauffman Center. In Spring 2017 the choirs performed at the KMEA State Convention and toured to St. Louis.
In addition to teaching, Janie still enjoys performing as a soloist and guest artist. She has been a featured soloist at The Kauffman Center (Kansas City), the Meyerson Symphony Hall (Dallas) and The Folly Theater (Kansas City) and was runner-up in the Graduate Division of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Regional Competition. Regionally, she has been a guest soloist for the Wichita Chamber Chorale, Hays Symphony Orchestra, and Flint Hills Masterworks Chorale. This spring she took on the role of Queen of the Night in the KSU production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She is thrilled to be back singing for a third summer with the Ad Astra Music Festival.
Brokenicky received her Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Mathematics, and Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance, all from K-State. She is an active adjudicator and clinician across the state, served four years as co-chair of Women’s Choirs for the Kansas Choral Directors Association, and is the current North Central District Representative for the organization.
Calder Craig is an active performer in and around New York City. He graduated from Manhattan School of Music in 2016 with his Master’s Degree in Classical Vocal Performance, and from Fort Hays State University with his BA in Music in 2014. Recent engagements include chorus and comprimario roles in Loft Opera’s productions of Verdi’s Macbeth as well as Rossini’s Le Comte Ory and Otello. During his time at MSM, Calder performed as a chorus member in La bohème and Lakme, in opera excerpts as Gobin in La Rondine, Pelléas in Pelléas and Mélisande, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus. Favorite roles performed at FHSU were Peter in Hänsel and Gretel, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti and David in A Hand of Bridge. Shortly before heading back to Kansas, Calder is performing in the trio of Trouble in Tahiti as a pop-up opera performance with Murmur Waves Ensemble. Calder has a particular interest in bringing classical music to uninitiated audiences; he relishes the moment when someone is turned on to “boring” classical music through exposure. Calder performed with the Ad Astra Festival in its formative years in the summer of 2014, and is thrilled to see how far it has come in the past three years. He is looking forward to returning home to eat his fill of chimichangas at San Juan’s and, of course, to share performances of relevant, beautiful music with everyone in Russell.