Local students performed in ‘The Messiah’ musical

Published 8:39 am Friday, December 19, 2008

Anna Sturtz and Matthew Stoneking, students in the associate of fine arts in music program at Riverland Community College, had solos in the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s production of “The Messiah” by G.F. Handel Dec. 7 at Austin High School’s Knowlton Auditorium.

Sturtz, daughter of Robert and Lisa Sturtz of Albert Lea, is pursuing an associate of fine arts in theater and music at Riverland. She has appeared onstage in numerous productions for Riverland and community theaters in the area, as well as being involved in high school and college choirs and vocal ensembles. She was a semifinalist at the 2007 Minnesota National Association of Teachers singing auditions and was named “outstanding performer” at both the 2007 and 2008 Minnesota Two-Year College Fine Arts Festivals. Next semester, Sturtz will transfer to Minnesota State University, Mankato, to work toward her master of fine arts in musical theater.

Born and raised in Albert Lea, Stoneking, son of Julie and Steve Stoneking, has spent his entire life surrounded by music. His mother teaches piano lessons from their home and his father leads music at Faith Baptist Church in Albert Lea. Stoneking’s choral training began in earnest at Albert Lea High School under the direction of Diane Heaney. There, he was involved in choir, orchestra and theater. After graduating in 2007, Stoneking attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and sang in the Norsemen freshmen men’s chorus while taking private voice lessons from Dave Judisch. This year, Stoneking has been singing in the Riverland Community College Choir and is studying voice with Riverland voice instructor Scott Blankenbaker as well as Judisch. He plans to pursue a career in opera performance and is working toward a language degree in German.

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