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Annual Festival of the Arts planned for July

The Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, in collaboration with the Pitt State Department of Music, are spending June recording performances by individuals and small groups in the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall.  

Dubbed the ‘Pittsburg Virtual Festival of the Arts’, the performances will be released weekly throughout July and will be streamed across many different platforms that PSU uses include the Bicknell Center Facebook page, CAPS 13 TV, pittstate.tv, www.vimeo.com/pittstate, and PSU YouTube.  

Performers include the J3 Band, dancers from the Midwest Regional Ballet, Pitt State and Pittsburg High School musicians, and local performers Rebecca Cutler and Robert Ensor.  

Raul Munguía, associate professor of music at PSU and the artistic director of the SEK Symphony and the PSU Summer Music Fest, is the Festival director. 

“Well, considering that everything since the quarantine went virtual, went online, the fact that performing arts are not having the opportunity to perform actually for live audiences, this is the best way to deliver what we do here in the Southeast Kansas area,” Munguía said. “This is the eighth year of the festival. We do this every summer for a full week and obviously because of the situation, the pandemic going on around the world, we have decided to go online and do this virtual.” 

Munguía is excited to give musicians a chance to perform and for the community to see a performance.  

“…We have following here in this area where people expect us to do something in the summer,” Munguía said. “So, every concerts that we put together, we have outdoor concerts, we have indoors…, we have pop concerts, pop bands, rocks bands, country music. We have a little bit of everything, and we’ve been adding (a) number different type of… styles to the festival because people are more interested in that. The fact that nobody can do anything, that’s why and I think this is just the perfect way to deliver that. People are missing the live performances, but this is a way to send them a little bit of performance. So, musicians in the area and artists in the area are always willing to put this service forward. This is a nobody charges, nobody pays for this type of event and I think this just the perfect way to do it.” 

According to Munguía, going online has made it easier to plan the annual festival.  

“…We have a very active music department obviously at Pitt State,” Munguía said. “We have orchestra, we have band, we have choirs, we have jazz and a little bit of everything. We also have a very active performing arts program at the high school. Also, many of our alumni teach in the area here in Missouri as well as in the Southeast Kansas area. So, the whole area is full of people that… know each other. The reason (that) sometimes in the past, without (the) pandemic, it’s actually a very hard thing to put together because everybody’s doing something different. The Midwest Ballet’s doing a performance, the high school is putting a show (on) either a concert or a play, Pitt State University theater department is doing something, the music department is doing something. So, it’s so much going on in this area… There is something very characteristic of Southeast Kanas and we are very active in the performing arts.” 

There are some other benefits to having the festival online.  

“…The beauty of putting it online is that people can go back to that same performance and watch it,” Munguía said. “If they don’t have the opportunity to watch the whole show, because sometimes it can be a three minute or 50-minute performance, they always have the luxury of going back to that same video and watch it or finish watching it later. So, that’s a good thing about it…” 

In addition to the other performers, Munguía will be a featured performer with his violin which he is looking forward to.  

“…I’m always excited to have the opportunity to perform,” Munguía said. “I teach at Pitt State and my work is always teaching and helping the students achieve their goals but we.., as faculty, don’t get to perform that much actually. We have the kids perform. But whenever there’s an opportunity for us to do something we take that opportunity. So, I’m collaborating with three or four different artists in this series… It’s just exciting… So, having that opportunity to record in the Bicknell is just a privilege.”

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