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Christmas goes Caribbean with steel drum holiday concert

April 16th, 2018

by Sam Bertholf

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Christmas with a Caribbean flavor comes to Bethel College when the two steel drum bands present their first-ever seasonal concert.

The student band and the faculty-staff-community band will both play Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall. The concert is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken.

Steel Paradise is the for-fun band made up of Bethel staff and faculty members and a few community friends. Band leader Brad Shores started the group last year.

The Bethel College Steel Drum Band is in its second year. Like Steel Paradise, the band has more players this year than last, which Shores says is a mixed blessing.

Having a larger group makes it difficult to find a time for everyone to get together to practice, a problem Shores has solved with individual lessons.

“I will meet with as many kids as I can get [together], maybe five or six, and I will then individually with other students, which is kind of a unique situation,” he said.

This leads to a number of the student musicians not playing with the whole group until almost concert time. However, according to freshman Laura Tran, North Newton, this just adds to the excitement of playing in the band.

“I look forward to our concert because it will be my first one with the band,” she said, “and also it is the only time we are all together as a band.”

She added, “I enjoy being in the steel drum band because it is a unique instrument and sound. Also, Brad is a great teacher.”

Director Shores invited “everyone to come out and see the students and the adults and how much progress they have made after only one semester.”

Steel Paradise will play “Jolly Old St. Nick,” “The Steel Drummer Boy” (based on “The Little Drummer Boy” by Davis, Onorati and Simeone), “Guantanamera,” “Jingle Bells,” and two pieces by Shores, “Urban Spice” and “Blue Samba.”

Steel Paradise personnel are: lead pan, Kaylyn Rhodes, Julian Liby, Denise Krase, Denise Woelk and Cindy Combs; double seconds, Michelle Sheriff, Erica Nance and Jennifer Horn; double guitars, Jennifer Chappell Deckert, Donalyn Manion and Joseph Gogus; triple guitar, Patsy Dirksen; bass, Shirley Dietzel; and drum set, Brad Shores.

The Bethel College Steel Drum Band will play a selection from the following: “Jingle Bell Rock” (Bobby Helms version), “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (Josh Wilson version), “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by Meredith Wilson, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” by Peter Lutkin, and “Carol of the Funk” (based on “Carol of the Bells”), arranged by Shores.

Steel Drum Band personnel are: lead pan, Brendan Ostlund, Mount Hope, Elizabeth Tran, North Newton, Marieke van Bergeijk, Hesston, and Alayna Wallace, McPherson; double seconds, Kendrick Weaver, Hesston, Lauren Nehrbass, Parsons, and Anna Lubbers, Peabody; double guitars, Laura Tran, North Newton, Samantha Koch, Conway Springs, and MacKenzi Eisenbraun, Shawnee; and bass, Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, and Callie Ross, Overland Park.

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 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

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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.