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May Concert to be presented at Bethel College

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Bethel College Oratorio Chorus and Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra will present their May Concert at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 2 in Memorial Hall at Bethel College in North Newton. Conductor is William Eash, director of choirs at Bethel College. The program includes the cantata "Dona Nobis Pacem" by 20th century British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams. Soloists are Michelle Roth Pankratz, soprano from Wichita, and Jonah C. Kliewer, baritone from Hillsboro.

Singers in the Oratorio Chorus are 95 members of Bethel College choral groups as well as 62 singers from area communities. The 65-piece Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra is made up of professionals, Bethel College students as well as community and area musicians.

The text for "Dona Nobis Pacem (Give us peace)" was written during the Civil War by Walt Whitman and set to music in 1936 by Vaughn Williams.

"Whitman's text raises the question of warfare--and not from the traditional peace perspective that we Mennonites have come to know," Eash says. "Where has God gone, it asks. What is the response to war when people return in body bags? How do we honor the father and son who have both died in battle? With U.S. troops still in Iraq today, we're still asking these questions. There are no simple answers."

For tickets to the May Concert, call (316) 284-5281. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens, $5 for ages three to 12. All seats are general admission.

About the soloists Michelle Roth Pankratz received her bachelor's degree in music from Bethel College in 1995 and master's degree in voice performance from Wichita State University. She has performed with the Arizona State University Lyric Opera Theater, Wichita State University Opera Theater and Newton/Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra. In addition to opera roles, she has sung the roles in Haydn's "Lord Nelson Mass," Mozart's "Requiem" and Mendelssohn's "Elijah." She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Society, and the Wichita Chamber Chorale.

Jonah C. Kliewer is retired after a 23-year tenure as chair of the music department and director of choral music at Tabor College, Hillsboro. He has sung in the Shaw Festival Chorus and also in the Santa Fe Desert Chorale. He now sings with Conspirare in Austin, Texas, and is a member of On With the Show, a Newton-area mixed quartet that performs show tunes. He continues to be active in choral adjudicating.

About the conductor William Eash directs four choirs and teaches conducting and music history at Bethel College. He graduated from Bluffton (Ohio) College with a bachelor's degree in music performance and studied voice in Austria. Eash completed his master's and doctoral degrees in choral conducting at the University of Iowa. He was director of choral activities at the University of Evansville in Indiana and director of music and director of athletics at Newman University in Wichita.

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