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Final Wind Ensemble concert of year promises to be a prize winner

September 11th, 2017

by Sam Bertholf

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Wind Ensemble’s final performance of the school year will be a prize-winner.

The April 30 concert, to be held at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus, will have a program of music composed by Pulitzer Prize winners and will include a Kansas premiere.

The concert is free and open to the public. A freewill offering will be taken to support the study and performance of instrumental music at Bethel College.

The first piece of the evening will be Howard Hanson’s “Chorale and Alleluia,” under the baton of student conductor Evan Koch.

Hanson (1896-1981) was an American composer, conductor, educator, music theorist and champion of American classical music. He directed the Eastman School of Music for 40 years, building a world-renowned school and providing opportunities for commissioning and performing American music.

Hanson won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1944 for his Symphony No. 4.

The first half of the Bethel concert will also include a performance of Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” to honor the 75th anniversary of its premiere. The piece will feature Robert Milliman, Bethel vice president for academic affairs, reading text from speeches made by Abraham Lincoln.

Ben Wiens, Goessel, is looking forward to performing this piece.

“I love Copland’s piece because it is a pretty unique … in that it combines beautiful music with history, creating a powerful effect,” he said.

Copland (1900-1990) was a popular and prolific American composer. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1945 for the score to the ballet Appalachian Spring.

The second half of the April 30 concert will feature a premiere of a new work by 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Zhou Long.

Zhou won the prize for his opera Madame White Snake, which draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend musical traditions of East and West.

The Bethel College Wind Ensemble was one of about 30 universities around the country that helped fund the composition of his piece, meaning this is one of only a few bands in the country to have access to the piece currently.

Wind Ensemble Director Adam Fontana is excited about the prospect of playing Zhou Long’s piece.

“This is [Zhou’s] first piece composed for wind ensemble,” Fontana said. “This performance will be a consortium premiere, and a Kansas premiere.”

Paige Cooper, Hutchinson, is excited about the concert and specifically about having the opportunity to premiere Zhou Long’s piece. She believes that while the piece is difficult to play, it is rewarding when mastered.

“It is a challenging piece due to the technicality,” Cooper said, “but that is what makes it such an enjoyable piece.

“I’ve always enjoyed the faster-paced, louder type of music, and that’s exactly what this piece is. It makes it really enjoyable, and fun to rehearse.”

Wiens is also eager to debut Long’s piece. “Zhou Long blends a lot of Western and Eastern sounds together in this piece, which hasn’t been done a lot before,” he said. “I think this piece is very exciting and fun to play, and hopefully listeners will think so as well.”

Members of the Wind Ensemble say the group has made tremendous strides over the course of the year and are ready to display their improvements to the community.

Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, French horn, is one member who is eager to show the progress the ensemble has made.

She said, “I am excited to play at the next concert because I feel like we have grown a lot over the course of the semester and I am excited for people to see our growth.”

Wind ensemble personnel are: flute, Matthew Lind, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Jesus Martinez, Newton; oboe, Austin Coulter, Pretty Prairie; clarinet, Sarah Balzer, Inman, Juliana Drouhard, Hesston, Shannon Neifert, Pratt, Ben Wiens, Goessel, and Sarah Turner, North Newton; bass clarinet, Paige Cooper, Hutchinson, and Reece Hiebert, Walton; bassoon, Elizabeth Schrag, Newton; saxophone, Westen Gesell, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ryan Fritz, Salina, Aaron Long, Wichita, Zane Richter, McPherson, and Tara Schwartz, Pretty Prairie; horn, Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, and Anna Wiens, Goessel; trumpet, Connor Born, North Newton, Evan Koch, North Newton, Alec Loganbill, Hesston, Braden Unruh, Goessel, and community member Arlin Buller; trombone, Ben Abel, Paola, Nate Kroeker, Augusta, Seth Larson, Wichita, Billie Selichnow, Wichita, and Andrew Thiesen, Newton; euphonium, Brendan Ostlund, Mount Hope, and Nicholas Preheim, Peabody; bass, Elijah Brockway, McPherson; and percussion, Shawn Bontrager, North Newton.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2016–17 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

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.