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Fort Hays Singers invited to Pearl Harbor event

Linn Ann Huntington
Special to Hays Daily News
Terry Crull, director of choral activities at Fort Hays State, is looking forward to December 2021, when his Fort Hays State Singers will perform for the 80th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Commemoration Concert Series.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

For the past several months, Terry Crull, director of choral activities at Fort Hays State University, has seen concerts canceled and has had to reconfigure the delivery of his classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traditional events, such as the Cathedral Concert in Victoria, which would have taken place this past Sunday, have been shelved.

But Crull is ever the optimist, and he is looking ahead to December 2021. His Fort Hays Singers, the top choral ensemble at FHSU, have been invited to perform for the 80th Anniversary Pearl Harbor Commemoration Concert Series from Dec. 4-9, 2021. He is currently raising the money for them to go.

“The company that we traveled with to Austria (in 2018) was so impressed with our musical abilities and just our students overall that they invited us to participate in this event,” Crull said.

The Fort Hays Singers are the only group invited from Kansas and will represent the state at the event. Crull said his 24 students will join about 500 to 600 other musicians, which will include bands as well as choirs. Each ensemble will perform separately, he said.

In addition to performing at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 2021, the FHSU group is also hoping to line up performances at a church in Hawaii and at the state cultural center and is working with the FHSU Alumni Office to sing for about 45 FHSU alumni who live in that state.

The group also plans to leave a quilt or wreath to honor Kansas service members who served in World War II, Crull said. He is currently compiling a list with the names of veterans.

Crull said others in the Department of Music and Theatre who will be going on the trip are accompanist Pam McGowne and faculty member Ivalah Allen. He said he has space for about 25 other individuals.

The cost of the trip is about $2,500 per person. The deadline to sign up and a $250 deposit are due by Jan. 10, 2021.

The students’ travel is being funded entirely through donations or their own personal funds. Crull said the money from a current fundraiser will help defray the students’ costs.

The group has offered singing Christmas cards for a number of years, but this year their delivery has taken on a different twist. For a suggested donation of $25, an individual can receive two Christmas songs (chosen from a list of eight) recorded by the Fort Hays Singers and sent to the recipient’s email.

Crull said the social distancing required by FHSU made the recording of the Christmas songs an interesting challenge. The students were spread out around the inside of Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall, with a microphone on a tall stand in the center of the room. The students recorded all eight songs in 12 minutes, he said.

Those wishing a Singing Christmas Card or wanting to give him the names of WWII veterans, or those wanting to sign up for the trip, may contact Crull at tacrull@fhsu.edu or at 785-639-3200.

While Crull is hopeful the choir can schedule future benefit concerts and programs to help fund the trip, he said all of that is uncertain because of the pandemic.

Those wishing to make larger monetary donations may send checks made out to the FHSU Foundation, 600 Park St., Hays, KS 67601. It is important that the memo line specify account No. 4698.

Crull said his main desire in scheduling this trip for his students is to help them become more aware of what occurred at Pearl Harbor and the sacrifices made by the men and women who served in WWII — something today’s students only read about in history books.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students, to experience Pearl Harbor, to touch the hands of the veterans, to experience the commemoration of the most infamous day in history,” he said. “For my students to experience all this — that’s what’s important to me.”