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Hays Symphony Continues Tradition with Free Space Themed Concert & Children’s Activities

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Calling all space adventurers! Put on your Halloween costumes and join the Hays Symphony at its annual children’s concert on Sunday, October 29th, at the FHSU Beach/Schmidt Center for the Performing Arts. The free concert has become a family tradition over the past seven years, offering an afternoon of music, drama, hands-on activities, and festivities for everyone.

“This year the symphony decided on the theme of space”, said Cathy Drabkin, publicity chair for the group. “We commissioned Hays playwright Catherine Trieschmann to create a musical drama with the prompt of “What would happen if an alien heard the music from Earth that was sent to space on the 1977 US Voyager I spacecraft?”

As a result, Trieschmann has written “The Golden Record”, an original musical comedy in which six aliens travel to our solar system in search of beautiful music. The production will be directed by Erin Renard, and features middle-school students in the alien roles. The symphony’s music which accompanies the story will include selections from The Planets, by Gustav Holst, the theme from the movie E.T., and first movement from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #2.

The symphony has also partnered with several FHSU departments and student groups and community organizations to offer a wide range of pre-concert activities in the lobby and the outside courtyard of Beach/Schmidt Auditorium.

FHSU students from STEM Education Club will be setting up several science education stations featuring hands-on activities with sound waves, with planetary orbits, and on the Voyager spacecraft. “We are so excited to share science activities and experiences with the community of Hays,” said Dr. Matthew Clay, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at FHSU. “This is a great opportunity for our students to have a chance to experience working with so many children as they prepare for their careers as educators.”

The FHSU Science & Mathematics Education Institute will offer digital planetarium shows for school-age children in the auditorium lobby. The shows require advance reservations through the symphony’s website.

The FHSU student chapter of the National Association of Music Educators (NAfME) is presenting Music in Orbit, a movement and music session featuring pieces performed in the concert, and offering a space-themed arts and crafts activity.

In addition, FHSU music education major Mackenzie Bowers and Associate Professor of Music Dr. Laura Andrews have created a comprehensive listening guide on The Planets which parents and students can use in advance of the concert to learn more about the music being performed. The guide, which has been sent to general music educators throughout the region, is also available on the symphony’s website.

Pre-concert activities will also include a stringed instrument petting zoo organized by symphony musicians, a ukelele demonstration presented by Studio 809, a space-themed story hour with the Hays Public Library staff and bookmobile, a drumming circle set up by FHSU percussion students, Meet the Brass and Meet the Woodwinds sessions offered by FHSU music students, and a Halloween costume parade. The first 350 children to arrive also receive a free trick-or-treat bag provided by Werth Wealth Management.

“This event is truly a coming-together of the community,” said Drabkin. “It’s a festival of arts and science designed to delight our children with the wonders of live music and theater.”

The program has been made possible through a generous grant from the Heartland Community Foundation and the Dane G. Hansen Foundation that the Hays Symphony Guild received last May.

In addition, the program is supported by involvement from McDonalds of Hays, the Hays Arts Council, the Hays Public Library, the FHSU Department of Music, Werth Wealth Management, Studio 809, FHSU Science & Mathematics Education Institute, USD489 Music Department, Hays Symphony musicians, and the Hays Symphony Guild.

Pre-concert activities begin at 1:15pm, and the concert starts at 2:30pm. Free tickets for both the planetarium shows and the concert are available on the symphony’s website at

For more information, visit the website, the Hays Symphony’s Facebook page, or contact Cathy Drabkin (

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