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SEK Symphony presents “Rising Stars” concert

PSU students have a lot of talent, and it is important to showcase the hard work that they have put into their work.  

On Monday, Nov. 16 the Southeast Kansas Symphony at PSU presented their “Rising Stars” concert. The concert took place at the Bicknell Center at 7 p.m. There was no live audience in attendance, but it was streamed virtually via Facebook Live and on Pittstate.tv. The concert featured three performers: Taylor Qualls and Colton Sprenkle, seniors in music education, and Tyler Fries, a junior in music education. These students were winners of the 2019 Concerto and Aria Competition. 

“This is a very special concert for us,” said Raul Munguia, director of the symphony. “The whole concert is led by students from the podium to the soloist.” 

This concert was led by a guest director, Amelia Warstler Markely. Markely is a PSU alum, and is currently is the instrumental director at Riverton USD 404. She also served as a cover conductor for last year’s Holiday Extravaganza Concert.  

“We are so proud of what they do, and we are always happy to put this kind of shows on,” Munguia said.  

The performers have been working on their pieces for over a year now.  

“I actually started learning this aria almost two years ago,” Qualls said. “I started with the basic melody and, as my skill level and range grew, added in the optional high notes.” 

Qualls is a soprano singer. As her senior year concludes, she has plans to continue on with music.  

“I plan on continuing to learn arias for fun,” Qualls said. “Music has always been and will always be a huge part of my life.” 

The pandemic has affected the world of music, as they have to make spacing adjustments, and special mask alterations to accommodate performers.  

“Playing with a mask on is a huge hurdle, especially for double reed players,” Sprenkle said. “Doing this through a piece of fabric is a bit stressful, however it’s what we have to do to be collaborative at this time.”  

Sprenkle is an oboist. He played Concerto for Oboe in A minor, movements I and II.  

“The piece is from the Baroque period of music,” Sprenkle said. “I got to ornament the solo in the style of the time period.”  

The Aria and Concerto competition was in Nov. of 2019. The “Rising Stars” concert was made to show how far the performers pieces have progressed since they first began working with them.  

 “I just tried to play the piece one last time and have fun with it before I put it to rest,” Sprenkle said.  

Virtual concerts have become an accustomed way to present concerts and events in a safe manner.  

“Obviously, we wish that this auditorium was filled full of friends and family, but today we want to deliver this to you with a lot of love,” Munguia said.  

After the soloist performances, the SEK Symphony ended the concert by playing Symphony No. 29 in A major by W. Amadeus Mozart.  

“I have met the most amazing musicians in my time at PSU,” Qualls said. “This concert was such an unforgettable way to end my senior year (with) some of my music friends.” 

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