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Ashland alumni host benefit concert for choir director battling cancer

A concert benefiting longtime Ashland High choir director Russ Otte will be held at the Mountain Avenue Theater on December 28.

Posted: Dec 16, 2019 12:37 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. — Former students of Ashland High School's (AHS) longtime choir director will gather at the end of the month for a benefit concert to support him as he goes through cancer treatments.

35-year teaching veteran Russ Otte was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2016. Although he successfully underwent treatment at the time, the cancer reportedly returned this year — prompting a new round of treatments.

Otte has taught for 26 years in the Ashland School District alone.

“When we heard that his cancer had come back, we asked Russ's wife, Sara, if we might be able to share that information with a few alumni from his years at AHS, so they could inundate Russ with notes of encouragement, love and support during his grueling chemo sessions,” said Gabriel Minchow, a 2003 AHS graduate. “With permission granted, we got right on Facebook and within 48 hours, this tiny seed had grown into a giant oak, over 100 students and colleagues had formed a prayer chain, and the alumni 'demanded' a benefit concert in his honor!”

Now former students of Otte's plan to gather in Ashland at the end of December to perform for him. The concert is free, but organizers have asked for donations to fund a "legacy project" in Otte's name that would support future generations of young singers in Ashland.

The benefit concert will be held on December 28 at 2 p.m. in the AHS Mountain Avenue Theater.

Organizers said that AHS and the Ashland High Arts Advocates donated the theater for the event.

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