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Bethel Quartet brings Brahms, bowling together in bowling alley concert

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- A striking new piece for strings will premiere as part of the Brahms and Bowling concert, presented by the Bethel Quartet, at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 25 at Play-Mor Lanes, a bowling alley at 1105 Washington Road in Newton. Local composer Susan Mayo, cellist with the string quartet whose members teach in the Bethel College Academy of Music, wrote the piece because the musicians she played with "all had a strong desire to don bowling shirts."

Yes, that's right.

Titled "The PlayMor Quartet" and written for electric string quartet, bowlers and dancers, the new piece is to be performed in a bowling alley. The four movements--"Random Bowlers," "No Bowlers Allowed," "Waltz of the Bowlers," and "Strike"--combine the percussive sounds of six bowlers with those of the quartet. The bowlers are identified only as "six surprise bowlers."

Will they throw strikes or gutter balls? That's the real question.

"Hopefully the piece will entertain and enlighten a variety of concertgoers: bowlers, non-bowlers, musicians and non-musicians," Mayo says. "If not, the snack bar will be open."

Spare change can be used for the snack bar or contributed to the free will offering that will be collected. Admission is free.

Besides Mayo, the Bethel Quartet includes violinists Nancy Johnson and Rebecca Schloneger and violist Kay Buskirk. Tiffany Jefferson and Heru Reksoprodjo choreographed the piece for six dancers.

Susan Mayo has been part of the Kansas musical landscape for more than 20 years. Her degrees are from University of the Pacific and Wichita State University; she has completed additional work at Peabody Conservatory. Besides the Wichita Symphony, where she is a member of the cello section, she has performed with the Oregon Coast Festival, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Plaid Family, Prairie Goose Stompers and the Wichita New Music Ensemble.

Clarinetist Walter Mays of Wichita will perform with the String Quartet for the "Brahms Clarinet Quintet." He is professor of composition at Wichita State University.

Nancy Johnson is principal second violin in the Wichita Symphony and holds teaching posts at Bethel College and Bethel College Academy of Music. Rebecca Schloneger is a first violinist with the Wichita Symphony and is director of the Suzuki Violin School at the Bethel College Academy of Music. Kay Buskirk is a violist with the Wichita Symphony and teaches viola at Bethel College and the Bethel College Academy of Music. Tiffany Jefferson is director of the dance ensemble at Bethel College and lead instructor for Newton Dance Center.

The Bethel Quartet is the string quartet in residence for Bethel College and the Bethel College Academy of Music. They are professionals but haven't made it to the PBA Tour--yet.

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