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Student Soloists to Serenade with Hays Symphony for February Concert

​​​​​​Join the Hays Symphony for a special night to celebrate the talented music students of

FHSU. The symphony will be presenting its annual Arias and Concertos Concert on February 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. The ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Brian Buckstead, Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at FHSU.

The annual February concert honors the winners of the Concerto/Aria Competition, an auditioned event held last December. Since the start of the Fall 2023 semester, these students have poured hours of practice into preparing their pieces. Now, the winners’ efforts will be shared for all the Hays community to listen to.

The five soloists this year are Jiangzi “Deacon” Guo (cello), Mackenzie Bowers (mezzo soprano), Jackson Scott (marimba), Laurinda Lan (flute), and Xingyi “Jerry” Long (alto saxophone).

Deacon (Jiangzi Guo) is a student from China studying music at FHSU. He has been playing cello since the age of seven, and he holds a rich experience in performing with different orchestras in China and abroad. Guo will perform the third movement of Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major.

Mackenzie Bowers is a senior preparing to complete her music education degree. Her area of emphasis is voice, and she has studied under Dr. Ivalah Allen during her entire time at FHSU. After graduating, she plans on moving back east to student teach with the hope of finding a job teaching high school choir in Eastern Kansas. Bowers will perform Dvořák’s “Inflammatus et accensus” from Stabat Mater and Verdi’s “Stride la Vampa” from Il Trovatore. 

Jackson Scott is a student pursuing a major in music performance. While he cites his area of specialty being percussion performance, he has grown particularly fond of the marimba. Once he graduates, he plans to pursue a master's in music performance with intentions to teach at the collegiate level. Scott will perform the second movement of Emmanuel Séjourné’s Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra.

Laurinda Lan is a senior in the KAMS/AMS program who, after graduating from the program, intends to pursue a bachelor’s and eventually a master’s in astronomy and astrophysics. Beyond the classroom, she is a flautist and cellist involved in several music ensembles on campus, including the Hays Symphony and the FHSU Winds Ensemble. Lan will perform Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 107.

Jerry (Xingyi Long) is a music performance major from Huaihua City in China’s Hunan Province. He began studying saxophone in 2012 and in 2018 was admitted to the Hunan Vocational College of Art High School. Like Deacon, in the summer of 2023, Jerry was admitted to FHSU’s Music and Theatre program where he currently performs with the Symphonic Winds, Wind Ensemble, and the Tiger Marching Band. Long will perform Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche. 

Each of the musicians express their honor and excitement to participate in this concert with fellow musicians in the department. 

In his season letter, Hays Symphony director Dr. Brian Buckstead shared his sentiment on the concert. “The winners of the second annual FHSU Concerto/Aria Competition will showcase their brilliant performances in a concert highlighting our home-grown talent. Nothing beats the experience of live music, performed with passion by the wonderful members of our orchestra,” said Buckstead.


Like with all Hays Symphony concerts, attendance is free and open to the public. Following the concert, attendees are invited to the hall’s lobby to meet the musicians at the post-concert reception sponsored by Insurance Planning.


Attendees are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance on the symphony’s website at where they can also make donations to sustain free classical music in the Hays community.

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