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Concert on historic museum organ to be part of Newton-area arts festival

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – One of the featured events in the first-ever Spring into the Arts Festival in Harvey County will be a rare chance to hear the historic parlor organ at Kauffman Museum on the Bethel College campus.

Donna Ratzlaff Hetrick will give a recital featuring works by one Dutch and several German composers April 5 at 3:30 p.m. in the museum auditorium, where the organ is located.

The recital will also feature one number played by Bethel College student Mika Patron, who studies organ with Hetrick at Bethel, and two or three hymns for audience singing.

The event is free and open to the public.

Hetrick will play works by Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck and German composers Johann Pachelbel, Johann Gottfried Walther, Georg Boehm and Ernst Pepping. Patron will play a piece by German composer Max Drischner.

Sweelinck, born in 1562, spent his entire career as organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. He would have been a contemporary of the early Anabaptists of the Protestant Reformation in Europe – the ancestors of the Mennonites who founded Bethel College and started Kauffman Museum.

Pachelbel, Walther and Boehm all lived between the mid-1600s and mid-1700s, while Pepping and Drischner were 20th-century composers.

Kauffman Museum’s parlor organ is named the “Teschemacher/Deknatel/Van der Smissen Organ” for its builder, original owner and the family that brought it to the United States.

Jakob Teschemacher, of what is now Wuppertal, Germany, built the organ in 1750 as a commission for Johannes Deknatel, a Mennonite pastor in Amsterdam.

In 1818, Johannes Deknatel’s grandson, Jacob Van der Smissen II, took the organ with him to Friedrichsstadt, Germany, where he had been called to pastor a Mennonite congregation. His son, Carl Justus Van der Smissen, shipped it across the ocean in 1869 when he became headmaster of the Wadsworth (Ohio) Institute, the first Mennonite institution of higher education in the United States.

Carl Justus’ daughter, Wilhelmina Schwake, in 1901 brought the organ with her to Goessel, where she directed the Bethesda Hospital and Home. It was donated to Bethel College in 1910.

Donna Hetrick is a Bethel graduate with a B.A. in music education and an M.M. in church music/organ from the University of Kansas. She is director of music/organist at Grace Presbyterian Church, Wichita, and adjunct instructor of organ at Bethel.

Mika Patron, North Newton, is a junior majoring in art at Bethel.

The Spring into the Arts Festival is sponsored by the Newton Area Arts Council. It begins with the Soweto Gospel Choir’s performance at Bethel College’s Memorial Hall March 28, the comedy Faith County at the Fox Theater March 28-29, and the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra’s “Pops-a-Plenty” Concert March 30 in Memorial Hall.

The festival will feature special arts events throughout the month of April. For more information, including a complete schedule, see newtonarts.org.

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website, www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/, or Facebook page .