If you'd asked Stella Hastings 15 years ago if she envisioned settling in Southeast Kansas to live, teach, and conduct music, the odds would have been good that she still had larger venues in mind.
Hastings, who directs the Southeast Kansas Symphony and teaches at PSU as an associate professor of music, is a consummate performer with a vocal ability that has earned her a spot with a Grammy-nominated choral ensemble. But it's the welcoming community of Pittsburg, Kan., that led her and husband Todd, also a PSU music professor, to truly lay down roots.
"The amount of satisfaction I get from being able to do my passion, my hobby and my career in a community that is supportive of family allows me to be a whole person," she said. "I can be an artist, an educator and just be myself. I don't know many places where that kind of balance can be achieved."
Born in Brazil and raised in Canada, Hastings earned her education in the states and moved to Kansas in 1996 with Todd, a renowned jazz performer. While working on her doctorate in Texas a few years later, Todd took a break from teaching to be with her. Soon he was granted tenure at PSU, a decision that solidified their decision to make Kansas home and help foster a community of musicians and performers.
Well-respected in the arts community for their musical leadership, the couple take opportunities to travel and perform whenever possible. This winter, Stella will perform in Texas with Conspirare, a professional chorale ensemble she has been a member of for 16 years. In 2007 and 2009, the group won multiple Grammy nominations for its performances and albums.
With multiple opportunities to do what she loves while teaching musical minds at PSU, Hastings says after all these years, she's found home.
"I love to balance community things with more broad performances," she said. "Each role I play is important to my contribution to the university and community."