They have both earned acclaim for their vocal talents on a national level. They have both used those talents to entertain audiences at Arkansas Tech and forward the reputation of the university’s music department.
Now, with their undergraduate experiences winding down, Keely Futterer of Dover and Darren Drone of Sherwood will share the stage of Witherspoon Auditorium on Friday, April 13, for a joint senior vocal recital.
The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission will be free and open to the public.
As Bachelor of Arts students at Arkansas Tech, Futterer (photographed, right) and Drone (photographed, left) are not required to give senior recitals. The challenge is more typically undertaken by students pursuing a Bachelor of Music Education degree, but Futterer and Drone wanted the experience nonetheless.
One problem led them to pursue a joint recital rather than individual performances.
“We’ve both been really busy,” said Futterer. “I’ve been doing graduate school auditions and (Darren) has been performing in the competition (the Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase in Little Rock), so we haven’t had enough time to get one full recital by ourselves. We’re kind of best friends, so we figured we’d perform our recital together.”
Futterer originally enrolled at Oklahoma City University, but she transferred to Arkansas Tech after her first semester. She says that a combination of the quality of the faculty and scholarships convinced her that Tech was the right place for her.
“I am a lot more patient than I was before,” said Futterer of her time as an Arkansas Tech student. “That is definitely something I have learned. Musically I feel much more prepared. It’s a total family environment and a very nurturing experience. I feel like a more solid musician and person because of the people I’ve met.”
Drone chose Arkansas Tech for similar reasons.
“The faculty members were so friendly, and the students were as well,” said Drone. “They were so welcoming when I came here for my audition. The music program is very, very good. I think I am more prepared than someone who might have gone to a much larger school. Most of the time at those places the master’s students and the doctoral students get the roles and those experiences. Here it is all undergraduate students in the music program, so you get a lot of experience. I think that helped me quite a bit.”
Futterer and Drone have given countless performances on the Arkansas Tech campus while appearing with virtually every music-related ensemble at the university.
“I wasn’t going to do anything else,” said Futterer with a smile when asked about the busy performance schedule. “When you are doing the shows and you rehearse for five hours…we love to do it, so it’s not really a chore. It’s what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives, so we might as well get used to it.”
Futterer and Drone proved they had the talent necessary to pursue a career in vocal performance when they received the Encouragement Award from the National Metropolitan Opera.
“That was a unique experience,” said Drone of the audition process with the National Metropolitan Opera. “To get a chance to sing for internationally recognized musicians was a great honor and a great experience.”
Futterer, Drone and fellow Arkansas Tech music student Jonathan Ray received another honor when they were selected to participate in the 2012 Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point in Eureka Springs.
The program, which is in its 62nd year, will perform “La Bohème,” “Die Zauberflöte” and “A Little Night Music” this summer. Futterer, Drone and Ray were all selected for lead parts.
Futterer participated in the program three years ago. Among the 60 performers that summer, only three were from Arkansas. She studied alongside individuals from New York, Canada and Japan.
“It is a great experience because you get to meet people from so many different places,” said Futterer. “I’ve never noticed that much of a difference because we are all musicians. It’s a universal language that we share.”
Daughter of Arkansas Tech music faculty members Karen and Ken Futterer, Keely hopes to follow in her parents’ footsteps.
“My dream is I want to teach in college like my parents and continue to perform,” said Futterer, who will graduate from Arkansas Tech in May and go on to graduate school. “Ms. Holly Ruth Gale teaches here and she still performs all the time. It’s an achievable dream, even though it is still 10 years in the making. It may not be the most lucrative career and it definitely isn’t the easiest, but I’d definitely rather do this than anything else out there.”
Drone will complete his degree in May 2013. After that, he will pursue a career in vocal performance.
“I would hope, my long-term goal, is to do opera and music theatre as a career,” said Drone. “Really, anything that involves singing, acting and performing. I would like to make a career solely on performing. I know that will be hard, so probably along the way I’ll do some teaching or some other job to make ends meet. If you work hard at something, eventually…eventually, some door will open.”
To learn more about the Arkansas Tech Department of Music, call (479) 968-0368 or visit www.atu.edu/music.]]>