This year’s Masterworks concert presented by the Hesston College music department has a personal significance to the Hesston community. The memory of Hesston College alumnus and former employee Tony Brown will be honored with a concert titled Peacing it Together: A Tribute to Tony Brown. The performance takes place November 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Hesston Mennonite Church. A pre-concert life story sharing will be given by former college employees John Sharp and Dallas Stutzman and current music professor Ken Rodgers at 7 p.m.
The concert will honor Brown’s lifelong pursuit of peace building through music. Masterworks chorus and orchestra, along with soloists Dr. Holly Swartzendruber and Keith Harris, will perform compositions Brown held dear to his heart. Selected works include a scene from “Elijah” by Felix Mendelssohn, “Old American Songs” by Aaron Copland and a wide collection of spirituals and art songs.
Swartzendruber, a professor in the Hesston College music department, has performed numerous operatic roles and has sung soprano solos in Handel’s “Messiah,” the Brahms “Requiem” and Mozart’s “Requiem.” In addition to her work at Hesston, Swartzendruber teaches private voice lessons to area high school students, leads voice performance classes and adjudicates regionally and statewide.
Harris, a close personal friend and colleague of Brown, has an impressive list of credits including performances with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Israeli Opera, Teatro Comunale Bolzano, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Lyrique en Mer France, Opera Tampa, Toledo Opera and is a frequent soloist at Carnegie Hall and the theaters at Lincoln Center. His album Keep on Climbing, a collection of inspirational and religious music, can be found on iTunes and Amazon and his book “The Odds Against: Finding the advantage in your disadvantage,” also available on Amazon, discusses his journey with dyslexia and becoming a professional singer. Harris is a sought-after voice teacher, choral conductor, voice over artist and jingle singer.
A member of the college’s class of 1969, Brown returned to campus in fall 2000 to teach sociology and anthropology and serve as artist in residence at Hesston. In the nearly 20 years Brown spent at Hesston, he touched the lives of so many people in the community and across the globe. Brown died May 22, 2023 after a brief illness.