April 25th, 2022
William Eash, D.M.A., will have one last chance to conduct the Masterworks concert when the annual event returns for the first time since 2019, on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
The concert will comprise Mozart’s Requiem, Rutter’s Gloria and a choral piece by Rutter.
Eash, director of choral activities at Bethel, will retire at the end of the current school year. While he did not initiate the Masterworks series (that was Don Kehrberg, professor emeritus of music), he has been directing it almost every spring since 2000 – up until the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled it in 2020 and 2021.
This year’s concert features an Oratorio Orchestra, made up of student instrumentalists, alumni and friends, and the Oratorio Chorus, which includes all Bethel vocal groups but, unlike previous years, no community singers out of caution over COVID.
There will be one special alumni number, however – for the final piece of the concert, John Rutter’s choral arrangement of the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth,” all choir alumni in attendance May 1 will be invited to join the Oratorio Chorus.
The main piece of the afternoon is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem.
Soloists are Soyoun Chun, D.M.A., soprano, Dana Kinney, alto, Nathan Snyder, tenor, and Christopher Kliewer, bass.
Chun is the instructor of vocal music at Bethel and has appeared numerous times as a soprano soloist for Masterworks concerts since she began teaching at the college in 2006.
Kinney, Denver, has sung numerous roles in opera along the Front Range (e.g., Opera Fort Collins, Loveland Opera Theatre) and is also an opera director and actor.
Snyder, a 2012 Bethel graduate, is a Colorado resident as well, who has been busy singing opera in Loveland, Fort Collins and elsewhere over the past decade, and was featured as Frederic in a sold-out Pirates of Penzance with Opera Kansas just before the pandemic shut-down in 2020.
Kliewer, Bethel Class of 1997 and now an architect and chief of operations with GLMV Architecture in Wichita, is a well-known soloist with choral groups and in churches in the south-central Kansas region, including Mozart’s Requiem the last time it was performed at Bethel, five years ago.
The Requiem dates from the late 18th century, and has been surrounded by mystery and controversy since it was first commissioned. Mozart died with only a fraction finished, and it isn’t completely clear who actually did complete it, but it has been one of the most-performed choral pieces ever since.
Rutter’s Gloria appeared just under 200 years later, in 1974, commissioned for and debuted by The Voices of Mel Olson, a U.S.-based choir.
The 2022 Masterworks performance of the Gloria will feature several Bethel-connected guest brass musicians.
These include alumni Andrew Thiesen and Andrew Toews on trombones and Aaron Linscheid on trumpet, and former instructor of trumpet Richard Tirk on trumpet and current instructor of trombone Matt Blauer on trombone.
Eash’s final choral conducting appearance on campus will be May 14, when he leads the Bethel College Concert Choir in their pre-Europe tour “home concert” at 4 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu