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Bethel singers do well at regional vocal competition

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College student vocalists made their annual trip to the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) West-Central Region conference and student auditions.

The event was held this year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nov. 1-3. Four Bethel singers advanced in at least one of their categories.

Julia Miller, senior from Hesston, broke to finals in Women’s Upper Division Music Theater. Upper division music theater, senior classical and graduate divisionsall sing their finals in a concert performance. Miller placed fourth in her class.

Mycah Westhoff, sophomore from Newton, broke to finals in the Women’s Sophomore Classical division, where she finished fourth. She broke to semi-finals in the Women’s Upper Level Music Theater division, competing with juniors and seniors after winning first place in Women’s Lower Level Music Theater in 2011.

Miller is a music major at Bethel. She had leading roles in the 2012 Fall Festival musical (Lily in The Secret Garden) and in last year’s Bethel production of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land (Ma Moss).

Miller has sung in the Concert Choir – in which she is a frequent soloist – played French horn in the Wind Ensemble and competed in forensics all four years at Bethel.

Westhoff, a communication arts major with emphasis in theater, appeared as Rose Lennox in The Secret Garden. She was a member of the Bethel College Women’s Chorus as a freshman and is now in the Concert Choir.

Both Westhoff and Miller were featured soloists for the joint Bethel College Chamber Orchestra/Buhler High School choirs performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria earlier this fall.

Renee Reimer, senior from Sioux Falls, S.D., and Riley King, sophomore from Lawrence, broke to semi-finals in Women’s Upper Level Music Theater and Men’s Sophomore Classical, respectively.

Reimer, a music major, is also a four-year member of the Bethel College Concert Choir and a frequently featured soloist. She has appeared in numerous Bethel music theater productions, joined Bethel jazz ensembles on keyboard and vocals, and currently plays percussion in the Bethel College Wind Ensemble.

She was one of the soloists for the Vivaldi Gloria this fall and is a founding, now senior, member of the women’s a cappella ensemble Woven.

King is majoring in music and plays percussion in the Wind Ensemble and cello in the Bethel College Chamber Orchestra. He was a member of the Bethel College Men’s Ensemble as a freshman and is now in the Concert Choir.

Bethel had eight singers in 12 categories competing at this year’s NATS conference. Tara Harms-Becker, sophomore from Hesston, and Abby Schrag, freshman from Newton, competed for the first time; Aaron Tschetter, junior from Freeman, S.D., for the second; and Will Lewis, junior from Newton, for the third.

The eight study with Soyoun Chun, assistant professor of music and instructor of voice. Accompanists for this year’s competition were Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, Bethel professor of music, and Melody Bontrager, North Newton.

About 450 students competed throughout the weekend, representing colleges and universities of all sizes – Division I to two-year – from the West-Central Region, which comprises Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming.

NATS was founded in 1944 and is the largest association of teachers of singing in the world. NATS has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and more than 25 other countries.

The NATS mission is “to encourage the highest standards of the vocal art and of ethical principles in the teaching of singing, and to promote vocal education and research at all levels, both for the enrichment of the general public and for the professional advancement of the talented.”

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.