Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

The Hurtys: The Music Department’s Power Couple

Dr. Sonja Hurty directs the Augustana Concert Chorlae, on Thursday, Sept. 20. Photo by Emma Gannaway.

21 years ago, Director of Choral Activities Jon Hurty and instructor of music Sonja Hurty came to Augustana from California State University Northridge. The Hurtys came to the college due to the choral program’s strong reputation. In the classroom at Augie, music students do more than just sing—they delve into the deeper meaning of the music. It is an inquisitive and involved process that creates an exceptional educational experience.
For Sonja Hurty, music is a way of life. Her grandfather sang solos in church and her mother was involved in performance ensembles. Her older sister was a soloist as well. “Music gives us a way to express ourselves and it gives us the opportunity to share our emotional and full being,” said Sonja Hurty.
For Jon Hurty, music has also always been a part of his life. With a pastor for a father, Jon Hurty grew up singing in church choir with his family. In his high school years, his church’s organist led him to direct a choir for the first timejust wave your arms in these directions.” Reflecting upon this moment, Jon Hurty said “I was so amazed with that sound. It has always been something that motivated me since the first time I stood up in front of the choir. To get a group of people together and make music in a way that you can’t do by yourselfit just struck me and has always stuck with me.”
First-year Augustana Choir member Ryan Hurdle (under the direction of Jon Hurty) states that “Working with Dr. Hurty and everyone else in the choir has made me a better musician. I already feel it because we learn songs really fast.” The Augustana Choir is Augustana’s premier vocal ensemble. With only five rehearsals before a quickly approaching performance, Jon Hurty says “It’s a great opportunity with positive benefits and it’s all about the challenge and students rising up to the next level.”
Each year, returning singers love to bring the new singers into the group in a positive way. “Unlike other ensembles where there is a lot of competition, ours is more of a group effort so new people are encouraged to be a part of the group and make music in a beautiful way,” said Jon Hurty. Hurdle adds, “The environment of the class is incredibly unified. As a choir, we are a unit. Since the moment we started, I’ve felt welcomeintimidated, but welcome.”
Senior Katie Griswold reflects, “Working with both Mrs. [Sonja] and Dr. [Jon] Hurty has helped me so much in becoming a proficient musician. Mrs. Hurty is very patient and she always finds ways to make learning applicable.” Music at Augie is a family driven with passion. “I always enjoy working with students and helping them develop and better express themselves,” explained Sonja Hurty.
The Hurtys are truly dynamic together. “We have made our careers in these places working together. Both on our own basis, but also sharing the opportunities that we have had. For us, that’s been a wonderful way to do our work because we’re very independent and being able to bounce ideas off each other and interact with each other together and independently. We have been extremely lucky,” stated Jon Hurty.
Photo Above: Dr. Sonja Hurty directs the Augustana Concert Chorlae, on Thursday, Sept. 20. Photo by Emma Gannaway.

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The Hurtys: The Music Department’s Power Couple