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Annual spring concert highlights women’s voices and music

by Sam Bertholf

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College singers will give the annual concert devoted to women’s music and women’s voices.

The Bethel College Women’s Chorus will perform their spring concert April 15 at 4 p.m. in the sanctuary of Bethel College Mennonite Church. The concert is free and open to the public.

Chorus director William Eash, professor of music and director of choral activities, says he tries to choose literature based on the singers in the group each year.

“In this particular choir, I have a wide variety of singers,” he said. “There are people who have never sung before and people who have sung a lot.”

Even though this is a choir whose members have various levels of experience, they hold in common a type of music they enjoy singing.

“All of them like to sing women’s music, so I chose the best women’s literature that I think fits for these voices,” Eash continued.

Additionally, Eash aims to incorporate the various strengths of the ensemble.

“There will be some people who play guitar, some who take voice lessons – we are going to incorporate them as well into this concert.”

The goal of the concert, and this ensemble in general, is to get the group to sing together as strong women, Eash said.

“The intent here is to sing as a group … who unite and encourage themselves through vocal literature and through the relationships in the choir, to be strong women, to make strong decisions in a society that often does not respect either their gender or their leadership abilities,” he said.

One song that Eash feels encapsulates those ideas is “One Voice,” written by Ruth Moody and made famous by her group the Wailin Jennys. The song focuses on, as Eash put it, “all of us singing, all of us working towards a common goal.

“That is the pedagogical focus of the class itself.”

Addie Regier, freshman from Newton, echoed Eash when she said, “Women’s Chorus is a very diverse group of strong women. We have put a lot of time and effort into transforming our songs into pieces that resonate with our community, and personify the atmosphere that Women’s Chorus creates.”

She continued, “We hope that many people come out so that we can take this opportunity to share our hard work and music with them.”

On the program for the April 15 concert, in addition to “One Voice,” are: “Keep Your Lamps!” by Andre Thomas; “Within Thy House” by Daniel Gawthrop; “Set me as a seal” by René Clausen; “Dies irae” by Z. Randall Stroope; “Ave Maria” by Javier Busto; “I Thank You God” by Gwyneth Walker; “Danny Boy,” arranged by Mark Hayes; “Threaded with Stars” by Susan LaBarr; “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” arranged by J. David Moore; and “Go Where I Send Thee,” arranged by Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory.

Bethel College Women’s Chorus personnel are: Cherish Doku, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jacklyn Gerk, Holyoke, Colorado, Anna Grimsley, Hesston, Krista Loomis, Walton, Anna Lubbers, Peabody, Araeleigha Marcy, Salina, Jennifer Meysing, Goessel, Vivian Pham, Salina, Abigail Phillips, Maple Hill, Addie Regier, Newton, Madison Roth, Abilene, Merrick Schmitz, Wichita, Emily Simpson, Newton, Sarah Smith, Topeka, Kaylee VanderVeen, Arvada, Colorado, Chloe Wall, Goshen, Indiana, Aliana Weed, Wichita, Gabriele Westrich, Tonganoxie, and Briley Young, Wichita.

Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.