Bethel College Fine Arts

Concert Choir

Concert Choir, Bethel College Kansas
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Harmony in Motion: Discovering Musical Excellence with Our Concert Choir

A mixed, auditioned ensemble (approximately 45 voices) who perform literature from various musical styles and periods. The Concert Choir represents Bethel College through an extensive concert schedule, performing at major campus events and in regional churches and schools.

A tour is planned during the spring break, with international travel every four years. Singers commit a minimum of one academic year to this ensemble.

Invitation into the Concert Choir is contingent upon audition and numbers per voice part.

Concert Choir Spring Break Tour 2024

Friday, March 8

7:00 PM – Concert: Westminster Presbyterian Church

Oklahoma City, OK

(In partnership with Joy Mennonite Church)

Saturday, March 9

4:00 PM – Concert: Suncreek United Methodist Church

Allen, TX (DFW area)

Sunday, March 10

7:00 PM – Concert: St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral

Jackson, MS

(In partnership with Open Door Mennonite Church)

Monday, March 11

7:00 PM – Concert: First United Methodist Church

Tupelo, MS

(hometown and home church of Dr. Waters, Director of Choral Music at Bethel College)

Wednesday, March 13

7:30 PM – Concert: Southminster Presbyterian Church

Tulsa, OK

(In partnership with Pilgrimage Mennonite Fellowship)

Thursday, March 14
Return home

Additional tour plans: 

This year’s tour has an emphasis on the educational aspect. Here are some highlights for the spring 2024 tour:
• First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City
• An Evening with Sphinx Virtuosi (concert), Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas
• Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jackson MS
• The Square in Oxford Mississippi
• Elvis Presley Birthplace, Tupelo MS
• National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis TN
• Sun Studio, Memphis TN
• Vintage Wildflowers (concert), Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Tulsa OK

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 the fall of 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 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 (every four years; most recently in 2018, next scheduled for 2022) and has sung concerts in Canada, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Bosnia, France, Belgium, Sweden and Norway, with television performances in Bosnia and Poland.

Learn more 

For more information about the Bethel College Concert Choir, contact Henry Waters, director of choral activities.