Almost two years ago, three young men turned Georgetown upside down, when they came together to form “The Hart Strings.”
FC graduates Ted Hartog, Gannon Yeaton and Jared Murray formed the folk band in February 2012, almost two years ago. Since then, senior John Renfrow and FC graduate Josh Druin have joined the band, as Yeaton and Murray headed off to college.
“The band has become more versatile since it began, thanks to Josh and John,” said Hartog, the lead singer for the Hart Strings.
“I’d seen a poster for their benefit concert and I thought ‘I just have to be in this band’,” said Renfrow.
Hartog continued to explain how the addition has allowed them to experiment more in their songwriting and makes it easier to find their sound. He also explained his thought process when it comes to songwriting.
“At the end of the day, you have to feel like you are singing your own song, your own mind and your own heart.”
When it comes to lyrics, Hartog looks towards his own experiences, “The lyrics for my music comes from the way I interpret certain life events. Whether its a break up or my move to college, I try to write the way that I talk.”
Hartog also shared that his inspiration is just an ongoing need to understand the world around him.
Now, this once small-town band is becoming big. On Nov. 16 and 17 the video for one of the band’s newer songs, “Sharp,” was featured in the New York Denouement Film (NYDEF) Festival. Band members Hartog, Renfrow and Druin were not able to attend; however, their productions developer and director of the music video, Patryk Larney, was there representing them.
Senior Kit Repine shared her experience in working with the Hart Strings. Repine acted as an audience member during the “Sharp” music video.
“We all had to pretend to be really hyped up, so we just jumped around while they shot the scene over and over again,” she said.
Repine said that she had been a fan since last October, long before the “Sharp” video.
“All of our fans are pretty collected and cool,” said Renfrow.
“We appreciate all the loyal support. We just really love you guys. You’re awesome.”
As teens were busy enjoying their last weeks of summer, some got the opportunity to leave the country to pursue their passions.
Students from different schools were chosen to represent the Kentucky Music Ambassadors program as they traveled to Europe. FC students were joined by choir students from different schools around Kentuckiana.
FC graduate Hayley Fien enjoyed being with other choir participants.
“It was a great opportunity to meet new people from the same area that I never would’ve met because our schools don’t interact. I made some great friends that I will definitely keep for as long as I can.”
Senior Ted Hartog also said it was a good experience being with kids from different choirs and spending so much time together made it easy to branch out and meet new people.
Some locations that were visited included the London Embankment next to the River Thames, St. Severin in Paris, the Pfarrkirche in Seefeld, Austria, Mondsee Basilica in Austria, St. Mark’s Basilica, and Franziskanerkirche in Rothenburg, Germany. Music genres performed were classical religious hymns, some American classics and some gospel music.
Fien described the daily schedule as jam packed and always having something fun to do.
“Well, depending on where we were, we would wake up around 7 for breakfast, maybe do an hour or two of sightseeing, possibly a performance around 2 or 3 from the band, then more sightseeing, then a performance by the choir and orchestra after dinner.”
The trip was led by University of Louisville choir director Dr. Kent Hatteberg. Many teachers and parent volunteers were also involved in the program. The trip was planned and prepared by Voyagers International.
Not all of the students had parents with them to share in the experience. Senior Regan Platt was one that went two weeks without her family.
“It wasn’t too hard to be away from my family at first because of all the chaos and excitement of arriving in Europe. After the first week or so it really hit me how far away I was and that was hard. Communication was little to none as I didn’t have my phone and I think that was the worst of it. Yet I knew that they were fine and I would see them soon, so I always kept that in my mind and just focused on enjoying the experience.”
Hartog was thankful for the opportunity, but was glad it was just a visit and claimed he would not want to stay there long term.
“It was a nice place to visit, not a nice place to live. I got homesick because water wasn’t free and you have to pay for bathrooms.”
With every person taking in the same sights and singing the same songs, each location struck different chords with students.
Fien’s favorite place was Switzerland while Platt was impressed by the atmosphere in London.
“It is a completely different culture and every street leads to something new and exciting. It was as if I’d stepped into a storybook. Truly it was just as I’d imagined. Rainy and overcast skies yet still just wonderful,” said Platt.
Students got to spend two weeks traveling Europe and making lasting memories that will stick with them forever.
Platt described the trip as majestic and as something that changed her entirely.
“I hold a new view of the world and what it holds, all the pictures we see in textbooks are real, they aren’t just flat images on a page. It is only when you see these that you realize how intricate this world is, your view shifts. Everything seems so much smaller and yet bigger at the same time. I know what it is to sit on the side of the Seine and watch the sunset, what it is to stand on top of the alps, I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, and I’ve climbed the rocks out over lake geneva….so many experiences of which I will never forget. I learned what it is to be filled with wonder knowledge, and even now after all this I know I have to go back.”
A 30-minute Youtube video, tons of Twitter posts, posters, bracelets, buttons, election signs; the Kony 2012 movement is not only sweeping the nation but almost every country, thanks to word of mouth, internet posts, and celebrity promotions that reach from Oprah Winfrey to Justin Bieber.
The Invisible Children organization sponsers the KONY 2012 movement. Invisible Children is a California based non-profit organization that strives to inform the community about the stories from the African civilians in an attempt to end the longest running armed conflict in Africa. With the movement having exploded onto the internet and other media bases, some FC students are also attempting to get involved.
Junior Ted Hartog is one of those students who are trying to help raise awareness.
“The Invisible Children movement’s intentions are to send U.S. troops to aide the Ugandan army and we have yet to raise enough awareness,” said Hartog.
The movement will feature several events that intend to raise even more awareness. An upcoming event to raise awareness is called “Blanket the Night.” This will involve posting signs all over any local city on April 20. Another event is a dance marathon in late November. If one can not attend these events there are other options online readers can participate in to help the cause.
“Posting the video, tweeting #KONY2012, and visiting the website helps raise awareness,” said Hartog. “You can also buy the action kit online from the Kony 2012 website.”
With the rapid growth of this movement, criticism and controversy has arised. The Invisible Children budget plan has been heavily scrutinized, and the effectivness of the organization itself has been questioned. With the detainment of the creator of the Kony 2012 video new criticism and mocking of the Invisible Children has become more common than ever.
Despite the criticism circulating about the organization, Hartog offers advice on what to do when one makes a decision on which side of the story they believe.
“I think that anyone who supports should educate themselves on both sides. Don’t blindly follow one side of the facts,” said Hartog.
Senior Evan Pearce has a different view than Hartog.
“I don’t think America should be the world’s policemen. We’ve gone to many other countries for things like this and it never ends well,” said Pearce.
The internet has made this cause known, through a vast variety of tactics and approaches. Views on the internet takeover are differed.
“I think a lot of the people supporting it are really uneducated on the cause. Most of them don’t understand the problems our own country is going through. We’re in a huge economic recession with a skyrocketing debt and numerous social issues. The supporters are too busy worrying about problems in other countries to focus on the problem here,” said Pearce.
Needless to say, the views on the Kony 2012 movement differ. With legal allegations and a worrisome financial plan, the movement will give everyone a different view on helping out.
“America is not a perfect people or a perfect country, so it doesn’t make sense to me that we’re trying to help every other country besides ourselves,” said Pearce.
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