Broadway star supports Wind Symphony

rutherford sings on stage

Broadway star Ivan Rutherford entertained a full audience at Pottle Auditorium
to benefit Southeastern’s Wind Symphony in an upcoming trip. 
The Lion's Roar / Megan Ferrando

Broadway star Ivan Rutherford shared his talent with local music lovers in order to support the university’s Wind Symphony.

The student musicians are currently gathering funds in hopes of performing at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The benefit concert took place in Pottle Music Auditorium on Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m., and ended with a standing ovation and encore. 

“It’s not often that many college bands are chosen to go, so the fact that we were is very exciting,” said Aaron Turnipseed, music graduate student who played piano at Rutherford’s performance and plays clarinet for the Wind Symphony. “But it does cost a pretty penny. So this is definitely very helpful to us getting there. The words cannot express how happy and glad and grateful we are that he spent the time with us here.”

Rutherford is well-known for his part as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” which he has performed over 2,000 times. He treated the audience to a few pieces from “Les Miserables,” as well as multiple songs from various Broadway productions such as “West Side Story” and “Pippin.” Each song was preceded by a humorous and personal story of Rutherford’s life and experience on Broadway.

“I thought it was amazing. I loved his personality onstage,” said Cheyenne Moore, sophomore vocal performance major. “He had a very nice stage presence. And his voice, oh my gosh, was just beautiful. I loved how he interacted with the audience as well. I love Broadway, so if there is a Broadway star of course I want to come.”

This was Rutherford’s third time visiting Hammond, his first being at the Columbia Theatre for “Les Miserables,” and his second being another performance with Southeastern’s music department. Rutherford currently does many one-man shows to support different groups, and after being approached by Dr. Glen Hemberger, director of bands, he found Hammond to be a great place to return.

“I like the small town thing. It’s an opportunity for me to come back here, eat some more beignets,” said Rutherford, who commented on his love for Southern food. “I like the grilled oysters with all the garlic. That’s very unique here.”

Aside from his love of po-boys and oysters, Rutherford expressed what a great opportunity it is for the Wind Symphony to go to D.C. to perform.

“D.C. is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Rutherford. “It will be legendary for them, and they’ll never forget it. And they have great hotdogs in D.C. too.” 

In addition to 100 percent of the proceeds going toward the D.C. trip, students received personal insight from someone who has made performance their career.

Turnipseed commented on how important it is to just relax and enjoy playing the music for others.

“It was a lot of fun. He was really laidback,” said Turnipseed. “There were special moments during our rehearsal where he said, ‘Look, relax. I’m no one important. I’m just singing something, and hopefully I don’t forget the words.’” 

Rutherford offered a piece of advice to those looking to perform in their future.

“Get as much training as you can and learn the business end of it,” said Rutherford. “You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you don’t know how to market it, no one will ever hear it. There’s a business end you have to understand, and performers should take that as much as they study their talent because that’s a big part of it.”

The Wind Symphony hopes to perform at the Kennedy Center in late May if all finances are reached.

For more information, contact the department of Fine and Performing Arts at 985-549-2184.