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Symphony Invites Kids to Conduct

Before the formal opening of its 2019-20 season, the Hays Symphony at Fort Hays State University is inviting youths to help conduct the orchestra during its Movie Music Pops Concert on Friday, Aug. 23, at the Downtown Pavilion during the annual Fall Gallery Walk.

Dr. Jeff Jordan, director of FHSU bands, will give a short conducting lesson for kids at 6:30 p.m., before the concert begins at 7 p.m. Participants will then be invited to conduct the concert’s final piece.

 “We wanted to take advantage of being outdoors, out of the auditorium,” said Hays Symphony publicity chair Cathy Drabkin.

“And we wanted to capitalize on the family focus of the Gallery Walk, so we decided to invite area children to help conduct,” she said.

The concert will feature music from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” “E.T.,” “The Wizard of Oz” and other popular movies.

“I think kids will recognize the music they’ll get to conduct,” said Drabkin. “It will be a blast for the kids, and definitely a video-worthy moment for mom and dad.”

In keeping with the movie theme, the Downtown Hays Development Corporation, which is hosting the Symphony’s performance, will provide popcorn and drinks for concertgoers. Guests are welcome to stay for a single piece or the entire show.

The concert will also be an introduction to the orchestra’s new conductor, Dr. Brian Buckstead, who comes to FHSU from Duluth, Minn. Buckstead is also the new violin and viola professor on the FHSU Department of Music faculty. He will be joined by Jordan and Dr. Peter Lillpop, assistant director of FHSU bands, as conductors for the pops concert.

The concert will last about an hour.

The Hays Symphony has been entertaining and educating audiences for over 100 years. Its musicians are FHSU students, faculty and staff, local music teachers, community members from the area, and guest musicians from around the state.

Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings when the university is in session. The orchestra performs four to six concerts a year.

All Hays Symphony’s concerts are free of charge, thanks to its donors and supporters. Information about the upcoming season’s concerts and ticket reservations can be found at

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