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Masterworks 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 masterworks concert at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 24, in Memorial Hall at Bethel College in North Newton. Conductor is William Eash, professor of music at the college. The chorus and symphony will present Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s "Requiem." Soloists are Holly Swartzendruber, soprano from Hillsboro, Hannah Neufeld-Harder, alto from Inman, Matthew Schloneger, tenor from Hesston, and Jonah C. Kliewer, baritone from Hillsboro.

The Oratorio Chorus is comprised of 95 members of Bethel College choral groups and 62 singers from surrounding communities. Professionals, Bethel College students and area musicians make up the 65-piece Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra.

Mozart was commissioned to write "Requiem," a mass for the dead, by a mysterious "black-clad stranger" but Mozart’s own death in 1791 left the piece incomplete. It was later finished by his student, Franz Xavier Sussmayr.

"The Requiem Mass is celebrated in memory of all the faithful departed," said Eash, "and it is especially exciting to be performing this text set to music by Mozart. Creatively engaging a work written in 1791 and bringing it alive in 2005 is demanding, intimidating and deeply rewarding. With 163 singers, gifted soloists and the skills of the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, the performance promises to be exciting and invigorating."

Tickets are available at Thresher Bookstore in the Schultz Student Center on the Bethel campus; phone (316) 284-5205. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students. All seats are general admission.

About the soloists

Holly Swartzendruber earned a bachelor of arts degree in music from Goshen (Indiana) College in 1994, a master’s degree in vocal performance with a pedagogy emphasis from Ohio University in 1997 and a doctorate in musical arts from the University of Kansas in 2001. Her opera credits include Lucia from "The Rape of Lucretia," Despina and Dorabella from "Così fan tutte," and Susanna from "The Marriage of Figaro." Swartzendruber is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and currently teaches at Tabor College in Hillsboro.

Hannah Neufeld-Harder graduated from Bethel College in 1999. She earned her master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. Her opera roles have included Amastris in Handel’s "Xerxes," Rosina in Rossini’s "The Barber of Seville" and the mother in Humperdinck’s "Hansel and Gretel." Neufeld-Harder currently teaches voice at Bethany College in Lindsborg.

Matthew Schloneger has been hailed as "superb" by the Wichita Eagle and "impressive" by the Cincinnati City Beat. An active performer in oratorio and opera, Schloneger has appeared with the Wichita Grand Opera, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Kansas and Opera Theatre of Lucca, among others. Recent appearances include Nanki-Poo in "The Mikado" with the Wichita Grand Opera, Nemorino in "L’elisir d’amore" with Operafestival di Roma and tenor soloist at the Messiah Festival of Music and Art in Lindsborg. Schloneger serves on the voice faculty of Hesston College.

Jonah C. Kliewer is retired after a 23-year tenure as chair of the music department and director of choral music at Tabor College. 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 has been director of choral activities at the University of Evansville in Indiana, and director of music and director of athletics at Newman University in Wichita.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and in 2004 was named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report for the 7th straight year. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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