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McDonough man writes, composes musical

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McDonough native Austin Burns is a senior double major in composition and vocal performance at LaGrange College in LaGran

Special Photo McDonough native Austin Burns is a senior double major in composition and vocal performance at LaGrange College in LaGran

McDONOUGH — Austin Burns’s relatives recall how much they enjoyed him standing on the fireplace hearth at Christmas to give impromptu performances when he was young. He sang and acted on stage through high school.

As a freshman at LaGrange College, the McDonough native said he thought he would lean toward composing pop music. But now, as a senior double major in composition and vocal performance, he is just as surprised as anyone that he wants to become an opera singer.

“It’s been a little difficult as a double major to try to find myself, to figure out where my strengths are in music,” Burns said. “When I came here, I really wanted to be a composer, but I’ve learned as I’ve been here that I’m more of a singer.”

LaGrange’s Dr. Toni Anderson taught Burns vocal performance, Lee Johnson taught him composition and Kim Barber Knoll taught him in theater arts.

“I’d say the biggest influence I have is Dr. Anderson, my voice teacher, since I’m going to pursue voice as more of a career,” said Burns. “Lee Johnson has definitely helped me as a composition student. And with my love for theater, Professor Knoll has helped me not only on stage but in my musical pursuits.”

Burns is in the midst of writing a two-person musical that will be performed April 19 at Price Theater in LaGrange. The musical evolved from a song he composed called “If I Were A Poet.”

“It’s about a writer who is also an actor and he’s always been pushed into acting in other people’s plays, to perform great works by other people,” he explained. “But the writer feels he has something to say as well.”

Burns is also composing the songs. He said writing the musical and writing for voices specifically play to his strengths as a singer and as a composer.

“There’s a lot more to me than just my classical sound,” Burns said. “I want to do Broadway, I want to do pop, I want to do classical singing and jazz.

“Some people get a rush from jumping out of airplanes,” he added. “I get it from performing and being on the stage. I get such a high from that. It just makes me happy.”