NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- In many different ways, the Bethel College Concert Choir’s upcoming European tour will connect students in the group to history and tradition. For starters, the Concert Choir has been taking trips to Europe since the 1950s. Starting in 1968, the group has been traveling to Europe regularly, every four years.
The 2006 trip, January 3-25, will bring the students into contact with musical and religious traditions as well. The choir will perform concerts in Leipzig, Weimar and Halle, cities where both Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Handel lived and worked. They will visit the Handel Museum in Halle, as well as the Bach House in Eisenach, Bach’s birthplace. The choir will also be visiting Vienna and Salzburg, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with an opportunity to go to the Mozarthaus.
The choir will also tour cities, towns and churches significant in Reformation and Mennonite history. They will travel through Prague, the hometown of Jan Hus, and Eisenach, where Martin Luther spent time in hiding at the Wartburg castle. Over the course of the trip, the choir will make connections in several German communities, including Weierhof, home of one of the oldest Mennonite congregations in Germany.
The Concert Choir will give its home concert on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel College campus. Admission is free and open to the public.
William Eash, professor of music, directs the Concert Choir. Merle Schlabaugh, professor of German, planned the itinerary and will accompany the choir.
Eash has fond memories of the 2002 European choir tour, and anticipates that this year’s tour will be as memorable and exciting for his students. He sees opportunities to visit the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, Mennonite communities in southern Germany, and Prague--which he considers "the greatest European city"--as potential highlights.
In the past, the Concert Choir has given its home concert at the end of their trip. This year’s will take place before the tour because at its conclusion, Eash will stay in Europe for his sabbatical. He will spend two months studying Gregorian chant at the abbey of Solesmes, near the city of Sablé sur Sarthe in western France.
The home concert program will include pieces in Serbian, Latin and German, including a motet by Bach. "I attempted this year to do more literature in different languages," said Eash. "It seemed right for the choir to engage Bach for this particular tour."
The choir will fly into Sarajevo on Jan. 4, and travel by bus through central Europe. Their itinerary takes them through Vienna, Salzburg, Bad Reichenhall, München, Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Weimar, Bielefeld, Solingen, Köln, Weierhof and Frankfurt. They have 11 concerts scheduled.
"The singers will get a chance to perform in different acoustical settings, see great architecture and be in places where great music was born," said Eash. "It is a chance to realize that the world is a much broader place than the limits of our campus."
Choir personnel are: seniors Megan Herman, Kingman; Sara Hobbs, Newton; Scott Janzen, Henderson, Neb.; Hannah Klaassen, Whitewater; Joel Krehbiel, Moundridge; David Nance, Dallas, Texas; Margaret Penner, West Chester, Ohio; Nick Schrag, Marion, S.D.; Christa Taylor, Kidron, Ohio; Barry Turner II, McCook, Neb.; and Chelsea Vaught, Henderson, Neb.; juniors Sara Adrian, Butterfield, Minn.; Erinne Coit, Wichita; Jon Dean, Buhler; Jerel Fast, Boulder, Colo.; Julie Fromm, Newton; Adam Gaeddert, Hutchinson; Kelsey Goertzen, Henderson, Neb.; Tyler Goertzen, Hesston; Jeff Janzen, Fresno, Calif.; Heidi Johnson, Topeka; Ben Kliewer, Buhler; Aaron Linscheid, North Newton; Sara Miller, Mount Hope; Shawn Rath, Moundridge; Tony Redelfs, Mansfield, Texas; and Caitlin Welch, Lawrence; sophomores Caitlin Buerge, Kansas City, Mo.; Chelsea Chaffin, Eudora; Kate Duncan, Kansas City, Kan.; Andrew Findley, Burlington; Katie Franz, Lawrence; Dan Graber, Marion, S.D.; Kate Larson, Clay Center; Joel Linscheid, North Newton; Andrea Nickel, Windsor, Colo.; Caley Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Bill Pruett, Holton; Kiley Schmidt, Newton; Laurie Steffen, Cunningham; MeLissa Warkentine, Chandler, Okla.; and John Wiens, Goessel; and freshman Brittany Baker, Kingman.
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 has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.