ACTU to hold live online musical performances

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In light of the COVID-19 precaution of social distancing, the popular Arts for the Community at Thomas University (ACTU) will move events online for everyone to enjoy from their homes in a series of “Thomasville Live” performances.

“Since we can’t gather together for the usual ACTU performances because of COVID-19, we decided to livestream these performances so everyone can watch no matter where they are,” Dr. Karl Barton, ACTU coordinator, said.

The first event will be this Friday, April 17, at 12 p.m. featuring Boyan Bonev on cello and Raymond Hughes on piano. It will include interviews with Bonev and Hughes about their careers along with performances, educational information about their instruments and details about the music they are performing.

“Boyan and Raymond are both incredible musicians,” Barton said. “They’ve both performed locally and internationally. We’ll get to see their incredible performances and learn more about the work they’ve done in the world of music.”

An award-winning cellist, Bonev serves as co-producer for the Center for the Arts’ productions and is also the orchestra director for Thomas County Schools. A native of Bulgaria, he holds doctorate and master’s degrees in music from Florida State University, and a bachelor’s degree in music from the National Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Bonev was a soloist in the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, the UWF Chamber Orchestra, the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra and the Stara Zagora Symphony Orchestra. He has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Bonev is a prizewinner from the Bulgarian National Competition for Singers and Instrumentalists and the Music and Earth International Competition. He is also a recipient of the Radio Stara Zagora National Award for Outstanding Concert and Artistic Achievements.

Hughes, a talented pianist, also plays organ and harpsichord. However, he’s probably best known for his work as a choral conductor. In 1991 Hughes was named chorus master at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a role he held for 17 seasons which included several performances in Carnegie Hall. Hughes was also named chorus master and conductor of the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo in 2009. In 2012 he became Artistic Director of the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe, which brought him back to his hometown. He also assumed leadership of the Thomasville Singers in 2013.

Hughes has been a standing member of the jury of the Ekurhuleni Melting Pot Choral Competition in South Africa, the largest choral competition on the African continent, and a faculty member of the annual Bel Canto Master Class for Opera Singers in Norway. In 2017 and 2018 Hughes conducted concerts in South Africa with the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town and the Cape Sympohony Orchestra. In 2016-2018 Hughes was the chorus master of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in Germany. He is currently the assistant music director and organist at the Luisenkirche in Berlin and a member of the music staff at the Deutsche Oper.

On April 24, ACTU will host another live online musical performance featuring Kathryn Belle Long and Mickey Abraham. Both are members of the Suncoast Emmy® award-winning Belle and The Band. Long and Abraham have played their original music at many of the premier Americana/Folk festivals In the Southeast and toured the East Coast as far north as Canada.

As 2018’s Will McLean Best Florida Song winner, Long is currently at the top of her game as a songwriter. Abraham’s unique approaches to arranging and teaching music have been featured in Bluegrass Unlimited and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Together, they combine experience, creativity, and class into an emotionally-driven and unforgettable performance.

Both events will begin at 12 p.m. on the ACTU Facebook page,

Boyan Bonev
Boyan Bonev
Raymond Hughes
Kathryn Belle Long and Mickey Abraham

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