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Masterworks program to feature French composers, Bethel orchestra

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The annual Masterworks concert at Bethel College will wrap up a weekend showcasing students and will include presentation of a new alumni award.

The concert is April 27 at 4 p.m. in Memorial Hall. Ticket prices range from $12-$5, general admission, available in the Bethel College Bookstore during regular business hours, or at the door.

The program opens with “Grande ouverture du Roi Lear,” Op. 4, by Hector Berlioz. Chris David Westover, interim director of instrumental music, will conduct the Bethel College Philharmonia Orchestra.

Timothy Shade, director of instrumental music currently on leave for Ph.D. studies at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, returns to campus to lead the orchestra in a performances of Petite Suite (four movements) by Claude Debussy, orchestrated by Henri Büsser,

He will also conduct the choral work Messe de Requiem, Op. 54, by Camille Saint-Saëns, with orchestra, soloists and the Bethel College Oratorio Chorus.

Soloists are Soyoun Chun, Bethel instructor of voice, soprano; Monica Schmidt, Newton, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Powell, Newton, tenor; and Doyle Preheim, Santa Fe, N.M., bass.

This year’s Masterworks program will include presentation of the first Erwin C. and Verna Kaufman Goering Music Award to Daniel Hege, Jamesville, N.Y., the music director and conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra (WSO).

The family of Verna Kaufman Goering, Moundridge, and the late Erwin C. Goering established the music award to honor a Bethel music alumnus of outstanding character for distinguished achievement and recognition in music.

Both Verna and Erwin Goering were active in music activities while they were students at Bethel. Verna continued to serve periodically on the music faculty as an accompanist and piano teacher.

Hege, who graduated from Bethel with majors in music and history, is completing his fourth season with the WSO. He had previously served 11 seasons in the same position with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

Dave Linscheid, Bethel director of alumni relations, and Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, chair of the music department, will present Hege with the award just before the performance of the Saint-Saëns Requiem, the final piece on the Masterworks program.

The three pieces this year are all by French composers, with Debussy and Saint-Saëns from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Berlioz from the first half of the 19th century, “with a style very different from the other two,” Westover said.

“We wanted to expose students to a repertoire not often played by college orchestras,” he added.

In the case of the Requiem, which Shade picked for the program, “none of the rest of us had heard of it,” Westover said. “Saint-Saëns was very young when he wrote it, about 20. It has a unique setting, and explores the [requiem] text in some non-obvious ways.”

The Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra has served as Bethel Masterworks instrumentalists over the past several years. However, “having a full orchestra on campus for the second year allowed us to use our students – with guests – instead of going outside,” Westover said.

“Our orchestra program has grown and the quality has grown. After the fall concert, Bill [Eash] and I decided the orchestra had gotten to the point of being ready to play for the Masterworks concert.”

Shade founded the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2012. This group of Bethel College faculty and students, and community members, presents 2-3 classics concerts per year and serves as the orchestra for Bethel opera, music theater and Messiah productions.

The Oratorio Chorus is made up of members of the Bethel College Concert Choir, Men’s Ensemble and Women’s Chorus and the Newton Community Chorus.

Soyoun Chun has been assistant professor of voice at Bethel since 2006 and has been a soloist for several past Masterworks presentations. She has degrees from the University of Kansas, the New England Conservatory of Music and Seoul National University.

Monica Schmidt, a 2011 Bethel graduate, is making her second appearance as a Masterworks soloist. She teaches language arts at Moundridge High School and studies opera in Italy in the summer through Wichita State University’s Canta in Italia program.

Joshua Powell also graduated from Bethel in 2011. Both he and Schmidt appeared frequently in opera and music theater productions while at Bethel. Powell will begin graduate studies next fall at Florida State University.

Doyle Preheim, a 1963 Bethel graduate, is professor emeritus of music at Goshen (Ind.) College, where he taught for 30 years before retiring in 2003. He has been widely heard as a bass soloist in oratorio roles – including in the 2013 Masterworks performance of Haydn’s The Creation – and has presented solo recitals, with his wife, Mary Jo Preheim, as pianist, in venues in the Midwest and in Canada.

Preheim has served this semester as Bethel’s director of choral activities while William Eash is on sabbatical.

Tickets for the Masterworks concert are $12 adults, $10 students, $6 high school students and $5 Bethel faculty, staff and students. They are on sale at the bookstore in Schultz Student Center on the Bethel College campus, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (phone 316-284-5205), or at the door.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.