Holidays often are times with family and friends, and that’s exactly who Max Haverfield turned to in creating his first Christmas concert series across western Kansas.
The Hays man will join with high school and college classmates, newer friends and his aunt to perform holiday classics in Hays, Oakley, Winona, Scott City and Hoxie starting Thursday night.
Haverfield started singing classical music in high school, where he met Eriana Holle.
“She just won me over back in high school. She had the most beautiful soprano, clear voice I had ever heard,” Haverfield said in a phone interview Tuesday.
They both later studied music at Fort Hays State University, where they met tenor Karl Pratt of Hoxie.
“We became really good friends, the three of us,” he said, frequently appearing in the university’s musicals and operas.
After getting his degree in the musical performance — a five-year program — Haverfield said he was ready for a change from academic performance.
“I was ready to pivot. I was not in the state of mind to want to go on two more years for for college at that time,” he said.
He decided to something creative and fun, so recorded a Christmas CD, “Shining Night,” released last year, and performed a Christmas concert along with it.
In the year since, he’s worked to combine his love of classical performance with pop sounds.
“Since creating that album, I’ve come back to center. I really enjoy the classical elements of my life, but I also enjoy doing some of this pop-style stuff. The actual term and what I am at this point is a classical crossover artist,” he said.
“I aspire to be the male version of Julie Andrews, somebody who can sing in a classical way but that is relatable to a broader audience is what I shoot for,” he said.
As much he loves performance, he said he is also enjoying putting the spotlight on his friends with the upcoming concert series.
He had asked Holle to sing with him in his concert last year, and Pratt approached him about singing with him this year. Pratt also introduced him to fellow Hoxie native, mezzo-soprano Bonnie Cameron.
Cameron studied opera in Europe and spent eight years performing professionally across that continent. About five years ago she moved back to Hoxie and opened a voice studio, The Living Room, and helped found Hoxie’s Main Street Arts Council. Pratt recently moved back to Hoxie and also opened a voice studio.
The two of them are making Hoxie an “epicenter for the arts in northwest Kansas,” Haverfield said.
In addition to the vocal performers, the concert series will feature three instrumentalists, including Haverfield’s aunt from Scott City, Garee Geist on grand piano, and from Hays Regi Wieland on keyboard and Miranda Graves on cello.
Geist has arranged several Christmas classics for the concert, putting her own spin on the favorites, Haverfield said.
“She’s just the most gifted, talented person in our group,” he said.
Haverfield met Wieland when he was part of Crossroads, a popular large choral group in Hays, and she was its director. She also taught music in Oakly schools and at FHSU.
“She’s got great skills in directing. She knows just the right kind of touch we need on those pieces. She’s ben great about fitting into that group and lifting us up,” he said.
Graves’ cello finishes off the group’s sound, Haverfield said.
“It just adds so much to that Christmas music. It adds a finish to the piece,” he said.
Haverfield said he’s grateful for the support shown for the concert series so far. About 15 sponsors have signed on each community, he said, and the Hays show was about half sold as of Tuesday.
The concerts provide something for music lovers and the communities alike, he said.
“”It allows us to hopefully touch the lives of some of the younger people, or for that matter, adults, that are interested in music that can find a passion through it,” he said.
“Along the way we’ve got sponsors that find what we do important and validate the communities where in western Kansas, they may struggle at times with keep their population, so having something vibrant like this brings life to these communities,” he said.
“Max Haverfield and Friends Christmas Concert Series” will be presented in five communities starting this week. For tickets, see maxhaverfield.com or call 785-953-0264.
All shows start at 7:30 p.m. The schedule is:
• Thursday, First Presbyterian Church, 2900 Hall
• Friday, Oakley United Methodist Church
• Saturday, United Methodist Church, Winona
• Dec. 20, Majestic Theater, Scott City
• Dec. 21, Hoxie High School Auditorium