Bethel College Concert Choir
As it has for generations, the Bethel College Concert Choir fosters a deep sense of connectedness among singers and audiences through excellent performances of choral music. Today, the Bethel College Concert Choir represents the college through a vigorous concert schedule that includes campus performances, concerts in local venues and an annual multi-state tour. Keeping with a tradition established in 1978, the Bethel College Concert Choir also tours internationally and has sung concerts in Canada, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Bosnia, France, Belgium, Sweden and Norway, with television performances in Bosnia and Poland.
The Bethel College Concert Choir has been lauded for its musical excellence. In 2010, the choir received an Emmy for the choral soundtrack of the movie documentary Through the Desert Goes Our Journey. Locally, the choir has been featured in performances at the Kansas Music Educators annual convention and with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. The choir’s most recent collaboration with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra was a May 2013 performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C with WSO music director and Bethel College alumnus Daniel Hege. During annual tours, the choir has accepted invitations to sing in the Berliner Dom, Stockholm Cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, Cincinnati, the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, and New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Each spring, the Concert Choir joins with all collegiate singers, members of the Newton community and the Bethel College Oratorio Orchestra in a Choral Masterworks Concert.
Recent Masterworks Concert works include:
- Orff’s Carmina Burana
- Mendelssohn’s Elijah
- Haydn’s Harmoniemesse
- Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem
- Mozart’s Requiem
- Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms
- Poulenc’s Gloria, Brahms’ German Requiem
- Bach’s Magnificat and Verdi’s Requiem
Recent choral works performed include:
- When David wept — Eric Whitacre
- Gloria — Cesar Carrillo
- Three Songs of Faith — Eric Whitacre
- I will wade out
- Hope, faith, life, love
- I thank you God for most this amazing day
- Deep River arr. Moses Hogan
- Die Stimme des Kindes — Jakko Mäntyjärvi
- Filled with His Voice — Steve Danyew — commissioned work
- Cells Planets arr. Vince Peterson
- Christus est natus — Jicí Teml
- Christus est natus — Damijan
- Mocnik The Rune of Hospitality — Alf Houkom
- Amazing Grace arr. Norman Luboff
Sounds of the choir
The choir performs a range of literature, singing pieces in different languages and from various time periods.
- Laudetur Jesus Christus — Jicí Teml
- Haec dies — William Byrd (1540–1623)
- Christus est natus — Damijan Mocnik
- Lord Have Mercy — James Bixel
- Sistah Mary arr. Rollo Dilworth
- Gloria — Randol Alan Bass
The Bethel College Women’s Chorus
The Bethel College Women’s Chorus comprises dedicated singers from across the Bethel College campus. This chorus contains students from freshman to senior and all singers are welcome without audition. With a majority of singers coming from the sophomore and freshman class, junior and senior singers provide leadership through their service as assistant conductors, section leaders and choir managers. These liberal arts oriented students engage the best literature for women’s chorus and take pride in singing as strong women in a world where the gifts of women are not always recognized.
In addition to their performances each semester, these singers combine with the Bethel College Concert Choir, Men’s Ensemble and Oratorio Chorus for a year ending choral celebration with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. With that orchestra, they have performed Orff’s Carmina burana, Mozart’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem. This year they will combine to perform Haydn’s Creation.
The Bethel College Women’s Chorus was honored to be invited and participate at the 2013 Kansas Music Educators annual convention. This convention represents the best choral ensembles from across the state of Kansas. The Women’s Chorus was pleased to represent Bethel College in this prestigious event.
The Bethel College Men’s Ensemble
The Bethel College Men’s Ensemble comprises dedicated singers who come from across the Bethel College campus. They are singers who are dedicated to improving their voices through the singing of the best in men’s chorus literature. This chorus contains students from freshman to senior and all singers are welcome without audition. This ensemble represents a broad spectrum of academic majors with the common interest in the vocal arts. They perform each semester and will often be heard singing in local congregations.
In addition to their performances each semester, these singers combine with the Bethel College Concert Choir, Women’s Chorus and Oratorio Chorus for a year ending choral celebration featuring instrumentalists from the Bethel College Sinfonia and surrounding professional musicians. With that orchestra, they have performed Orff’s Carmina burana, Mozart’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem.
Open Road began in the 2000–2001 academic year as a group of college men who came together twice a week to sing. Since that time, the group has established an active concert schedule that serves both Bethel College and the surrounding community. All members of Open Road are active singers in the Bethel College Concert Choir and their music is often featured during the annual Concert Choir tour.
In addition to local church concerts, Open Road performs at a variety of Bethel College events, has been featured with the Kansas Mennonite Men’s Chorus in 2009 and 2011 and at the Mennonite National Convention in Charlotte, NC in 2005 and San Jose, CA in 2007. They complete each concert year with a home performance at Bethel College in Memorial Hall. In addition, they have also been featured at the annual convention of the Kansas Music Educators.
The name, Open Road, comes from the original ensemble members and they relate this story:
We were singing at a church service on a Sunday morning when a homeless man came into the service. He was receiving aid from the church. We listened to the man’s story and discovered that he had no name; he went by the alias of
Open Road. Because we were moved by his testimony and his evident joy of life, despite his suffering and disappointment, we decided to honor him by assuming his name, Open Road. That story and his image have stayed with us ever since that experience.
Open Road is appreciative of their supportive audiences and they strive for excellence through their dedication to singing the best in men’s chorus literature and through their commitment to each other. Through these goals, they hope to keep alive their love of music that is found in male a cappella singing.
Woven is a student directed women’s ensemble that began in the fall of 2010. Established to perform the best of women’s chorus literature, they have a deep commitment to the lives of women everywhere and their choice of literature describes and supports the role of women in contemporary society.
Woven is committed to an active rehearsal and concert schedule that includes local churches, coffee shops, and a variety of other venues. In addition, in the fall of 2010, they were honored to be coached by the Wailin’ Jennys. They are active singers in the Bethel College Concert Choir and their music is often featured during the annual Concert Choir tour. As seniors graduate, new members are added to the ensemble.
Woven strives for excellence through their engaging singing and through that singing, they experience their love of music found in women’s a cappella singing.
The study of voice at Bethel College is a dynamic and engaging learning experience. Coordinated by Dr. Soyoun Chun, a graduate of the New England Conservatory and the University of Kansas, students are actively shaped and nurtured in the vocal experience. Singers perform annual recitals and serve as soloists in orchestral and choral performances. A fully orchestrated and staged musical theater or complete opera work is performed each year. Recent productions include Into the Woods, the first regional production of The Light in the Piazza and The Magic Flute.
Bethel College singers are encouraged to participate in the annual National Association of the Teachers of Singing (NATS) voice competition. Bethel’s studio singers are have done exceptionally well in this regional competition. In 2009, five singers placed in the semifinals and, in the finals, Bethel singers earned third and fifth place. In 2010, four singers were invited to sing the semi-final round in the classical and musical theater categories, with a Bethel College senior winning first place in the men’s senior classical competition. In 2011, a freshman won the finals in both classical and music theater. In 2012, a sophomore placed fourth in classical and a senior in musical theater.
Many Bethel College graduates have had significant success in the music profession, attending graduate schools and/or serving as music teachers at the K-12 and collegiate levels. Alumni representatives in the music field include:
- Dr. Paul Crabb (University of Missouri)
- Janeal Krehbiel (retired, Lawrence [Kan.] Children’s Choir)
- Dr. Paul Wiens (retired, Wheaton [Ill.] College)
- Dr. Doyle Preheim (retired, Goshen [Ind.] College)
- Greg Bontrager (past president, KCDA, Inman [Kan.] High School)
- Steve Miller (Senseney Music, Wichita)
- Garret Epp (Olathe [Kan.] North High School, Kansas City Chorale)
- Joel Linscheid (principal saxophone, Glenn Miller Orchestra)
- J. Harold Moyer (Bethel College [Ks.]), composer
- Paul Rudy (University of Missouri-Kansas City), composer
In professional theater, Bethel alumnus Arthur W. Marks has sung with orchestras throughout the United States and in numerous international venues, and he is in great demand as a choreographer. In addition, he performed in off-Broadway productions of SIDD, The Screams of Kitty Genovese and Backstage at the Funky B. His work in regional musical theater is substantial. He was featured as the
Ugly Duckling in HONK! and his vocal work in that production resulted in the first American cast recording of the musical with Music Theater of Wichita.
Bethel alumna Rachel de Benedet has appeared with Nathan Lane as
Morticia in the Broadway production of The Addams Family. She created the role of
Paula Abagnale in the world premiere of Catch Me If You Can, played at the Chicago Goodman Theater in the world premiere of Turn of the Century and spent nine months in the role of
Guenevere in the recent national tour of Camelot. Other Broadway appearances include
Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,
Diana in Nine and The Sound of Music, in which she also toured as
Elsa, winning the JUDY award. Among her recordings are Adrift in Macao, Three Musketeers, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Nine and Carols for a Cure 2003, 2005 and 2006.
In May 2013, Rachel de Benedet and Arthur Marks were featured in Bethel College’s 125th-anniversary celebration choral masterworks concert with the Bethel College Oratorio Chorus and the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra.
Concert Choir History
The Bethel College Concert Choir has been the core of the music department since Walter Hohmann founded the ensemble in 1932 as the Bethel College A Cappella Choir. Though oratorio choruses, glee clubs and other music organizations had been active since the 1890s, Hohmann’s A Cappella Choir was distinct from its predecessors. The choir traveled out-of-state to perform and generally sang unaccompanied sacred repertoire from memory. The choir’s first extended concert tour was a six-week tour through the western United States and Canada in the summer of 1935.
Renamed the Mennonite Singers in the 1950s, the choir toured Europe for the first time in the summer of 1952 and again in 1955 and 1958, traveling by boat each time. During this decade, recordings of the Mennonite Singers were broadcast on a weekly radio program out of Wichita.
James Bixel succeeded Hohmann in 1958–59, Gordon Corwin in 1959–60, and Walter Jost in fall 1960. The choir continued as a mixed touring ensemble of 40–60 members, though Bixel changed the name from the Mennonite Singers to the Bethel College Choir. Marles Preheim joined the Bethel College music faculty in the fall of 1977 and alternated leadership of the College Choir with Jost nearly every year until Jost’s retirement in 1992. Preheim changed the name of the Bethel College Choir to the Bethel College Concert Choir in the early 1980s. William Eash succeeded Preheim as director in 1999. As it has for generations, the Bethel College Concert Choir fosters a deep sense of connectedness among singers and audiences through excellent performances of choral music.
Today the Bethel College Concert Choir represents the college through its extensive and vigorous concert schedule, which includes campus performances, concerts in local venues and its annual multi-state tour. Keeping with the tradition established in 1978, the choir tours internationally and has sung concerts in Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Bosnia, France, Belgium, Sweden and Norway and has been featured on television in Bosnia and Poland.
In 2010, the Concert Choir received an Emmy for their soundtrack on the movie documentary, Through the Desert Goes Our Journey. In addition, the Bethel College Concert Choir has been featured in performances at the Kansas Music Educators annual convention and the choir serves as guest performers with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. The choir’s most recent collaboration included a 2010 performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2
Resurrection with WSO music director and Bethel College graduate Daniel Hege. They are on the schedule to sing Carmina Burana with the WSO in November 2012.
As a result of its choral excellence, the choir has accepted invitations to sing in the Berliner Dome, Stockholm Cathedral, St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, Cincinnati, the Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, and New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Each spring, the Concert Choir joins with all collegiate singers, members of the Newton Community Chorus and the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra in the performance of choral masterworks.