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Sources: Todd Holmberg, 785-532-6425,;
Beth Unger, 785-532-6521,; and Samuel Brinton,
Web site:
Video available. Access at
News release prepared by: Nellie Ryan, 785-532-6415,

Monday, Oct. 12, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's McCain Auditorium will celebrate its 39th anniversary in November as a dynamic cultural resource for the campus and the Manhattan community.

"McCain Auditorium is integral to the core mission of Kansas State University," said Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain Auditorium. "We serve as the cultural focal point of live performing arts experiences to improve the lives of the K-State community."

McCain Auditorium serves this purpose in many ways, Holmberg said, including through the annual McCain Performance Series. The series offers audiences the chance to see a variety of highly skilled performers from throughout the world. This year's series features 18 different performances, including ballet, musicals and acrobatics.

Not only are the performances world-class, Holmberg said, they are also affordable -- especially for K-State students who can purchase tickets for 50 percent off the general admission ticket price.

"As a student, we don't have a lot of money, so it is always nice to see opportunities to have cultural experiences without the ridiculously high prices," said Samuel Brinton, a senior in mechanical and nuclear engineering and vocal music performance from Perry, Iowa. "I've been to big cities like New York and the ticket prices are out of this world, but here in McCain we can see some of those same types of performances at a much cheaper price."

Performances offered by McCain are cultural experiences that have the power to influence a young person's outlook on life, Brinton said, offering himself as an example. He was always interested in vocal performance, but was unsure about which type he wanted to study. After attending an opera at McCain Auditorium in his freshman year, Brinton knew that opera was exactly the type of music he wanted to sing.

"The arts really provide a rounding out of an individual's college career, especially if they're a scientist, engineer or agriculturalist, where the arts sometimes are not strongly provided in their curriculum," said Beth Unger, K-State professor of computing and information sciences and president of Friends of McCain.

"As students begin to ask the questions 'Who am I?' and 'Who do I want to be?', music, the performing arts and the visual arts provide a foundation to begin to answer those questions," Unger said.

Unger has been a professor at K-State for 43 years and a McCain Performance Series season-ticket holder for 39 years.

"Being a season-ticket holder allowed my husband and I to expose our children to the arts in a way that we could not have done otherwise because going to San Francisco or New York to experience these events was simply not financially possible," Unger said. "It was easy to take the children to the McCain performances, and I know it helped them grow and become the people they are today."

McCain Auditorium also strives to provide classroom and community learning opportunities that correspond with the on-stage performances. When the a cappella ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs Feb. 19, 2010, at McCain, the group's members will have a pre-performance question-and-answer session with interested students.

"This learning experience, for example, would be of special interest for a student in political science because the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo all grew up during the period of apartheid in South Africa," Holmberg said.

Manhattan High School students will have the opportunity to interact with the members of Momix, a dance-illusionist group, which will be putting on a clinic at the high school in conjunction with the group's Feb. 4, 2010, performance at McCain Auditorium.

Surrounding communities, like Fort Riley, also benefit from the McCain performances, Holmberg said. The Brasil Guitar Duo will give a concert to junior high students at Fort Riley before the group's Nov. 10 performance at McCain Auditorium.

Holmberg believes it is important to have these learning experiences available for the community so people can better understand the on-stage performances. He also said that supporting the arts is critical in the sustainability of any type of community.

"A community that supports the arts has more jobs, increased tourism and, more importantly, a community that supports the arts is creative and innovative," he said.

More information on events at McCain Auditorium is available online at or by calling 785-532-6428.