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Bethel College Sinfonia and Wind Ensemble to present joint fall concert

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- New assistant professor of music Richard Tirk will make his conducting debut at Bethel College when the Bethel College Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra and Wind Ensemble present a joint concert on Monday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Joliffe Auditorium in Memorial Hall on the college campus in North Newton. Tirk has a B.A. in music education from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., an M.M. from Western Michigan University and a D.M.A. in trumpet performance from Michigan State University. Previously, he was director of instrumental music studies at Independence (Kan.) Community College.

Being accustomed to larger music programs, Tirk has made considerable adjustments in joining the Bethel College music department. "There were some instruments that I expected to have but didn’t," he says. "I have revised the program for our upcoming concert almost completely."

The Wind Ensemble will perform Gustav Holst’s "First Suite in E Flat for Military Band," Eric Whitacre’s "Sleep," Gordon Jacob’s "Old Wine in New Bottles" and marches by Beethoven. The Sinfonia will present Grieg’s "Peer Gynt Suite No. 1" and feature the Bethel String Quartet on Mozart’s "Serenade No. 6." Joining the Bethel students on the stage will be students from Hesston College and Newton and Hesston High Schools and members of the community.

The selection of pieces includes both older and newer music. For example, the Jacob piece is a collection of 20th-century dances while the Beethoven piece contains early 19th-century band marches.

One of Tirk’s goals with these ensembles is to promote newer music. "I would like to increase awareness of contemporary music," he says, "to help people understand what contemporary music is all about."

He says he envisions the possibility of commissioning living composers write music specifically for the Bethel College ensembles, so the musicians can experience the "excitement of a brand new piece of music."

"I want to continue the tradition of having two functioning ensembles, though they are not necessarily separate," Tirk continues. "The wind ensemble philosophy is to have individual performers on a part. It is a smaller group, and there is more responsibility on the individual."

Despite some initial adjustments, Tirk says he feels comfortable in his new role at Bethel. "Bethel is a really good fit for me. There is a relaxed yet serious atmosphere that is really refreshing. I appreciate the collegiality of the faculty, and that students are easy to talk to. I am looking forward to doing a concert in Memorial Hall."

Admission to the Sinfonia and Wind Ensemble concert is free and open to the public although donations will be accepted.

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 2005 was named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report for the 8th straight year. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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