Ad Astra Music Festival

Est. 2014 in Russell, Kansas

Collaborative Pianists


MATTHEW PIATT, a Victoria native, Matthew Piatt is in his seventh season as an assistant conductor and prompter with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He has also served as an assistant conductor with San Francisco Opera since 2006. Matthew was the first pianist/coach to be awarded an Adler Fellowship with the San Francisco Opera. He has played keyboards with the San Francisco Opera orchestra in L’elisir d’amore, Nixon in China, and the world premieres of Appomattox by Philip Glass and The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene by Mark Adamo. He has performed with Renée Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma to promote arts education in Chicago public schools. Additional collaborations have included performances with David Daniels, Ailyn Perez, and Marjorie Owens. He earned his bachelor's degree in piano from the University of Houston, graduating summa cum laude. He received his master's in collaborative piano at the University of Michigan, where he studied with Martin Katz. July 2018 marks Matthew's fourth season with the Ad Astra Music Festival.

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Pianist CÉSAR CAÑÓN alternates his activity as a concert pianist with vocal coaching and conducting. He has performed in his native Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Mexico, and the United States. His training includes fellowships with the Aspen Music Festival and the Merola Opera program. He has been guest instructor at the Ad Astra Music Festival, Universidad Central and Universidad Nacional in Colombia and at Emory University. As a chamber music player and conductor, he has performed in venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Detroit Symphony and Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. He was assistant conductor of Ann Arbor Camerata  for their 2015-16 season. An entrepreneur too, he created En Español: Sounds of the Hispanosphere, a festival dedicated to music of Spain and Latin America. Last January he joined San Francisco Opera as an Adler fellow pianist and coach. He finished his doctoral studies with Martin Katz at the University of Michigan.

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Canadian conductor and composer PATRICK MURRAY directs the University of Illinois University Chorus, and is a visiting artist with Illinois Summer Youth Music and the Ad Astra Music Festival in Russell, Kansas. A passionate advocate for new music, Patrick previously served as Music Director of FAWN Chamber Creative (Toronto), where during his tenure he premiered two new chamber operas by emerging Canadian composers, as well as numerous interdisciplinary new music and media works. As a conductor, Patrick has collaborated with the Illinois Modern Ensemble, Yale Voxtet, Yale Camerata, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Toy Piano Composers, and the University of Toronto New Music Festival. Equally at home in contemporary and historical performance, he has performed as a chorister with the Yale Schola Cantorum under the direction of noted Baroque specialists David Hill, Masaaki Suzuki, and Simon Carrington, and with the Illinois Bach Festival under Andrew Megill. An award-winning composer, Patrick's choral and chamber compositions are regularly commissioned and performed by ensembles across Canada and the United States.

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At home on the concert stage and in the classroom, pianist J. BRADLEY BAKER enjoys a career as a performing artist, vocal coach, and educator. Bradley’s solo performances have been heard throughout the United States and Canada, as well as on the Navona Records label. He serves as Executive Director and Music Director & Coach for Music On Site, Inc, and coached for Wichita Grand Opera, Lawrence Opera Theatre, and Opera Birmingham. Notable singers with whom he has worked include Samuel Ramey, Michael Sylvester, and William Powers. He served as the Director of Chamber Music at the Hot Springs Music Festival, and is currently the orchestral keyboardist of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Bradley is on faculty at Tabor College where he leads a studio of solo and collaborative pianists, coaches the opera program, and teaches music theory. His training includes Daniel Shapiro, Paul Schenly, Robert Roux, Elizabeth DeMio, Virginia Weckstrom, Margo Garrett, and Warren Jones.