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Renowned organist Paukert to perform at Bethel College

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Karel Paukert, world renowned as an organist, judge and organ teacher, will give a recital at Bethel College Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel.

The recital is sponsored by the Kathy Voran Memorial Endowment for Organ Instruction, established by Mildred and Myron Voran, North Newton, in memory of their daughter. Kathy Voran, a 1976 Bethel graduate and a top organ student, was killed in an automobile accident in 1977. Her parents established the memorial endowment in 1978 for the purpose of supporting educational and musical activities for Bethel students.

In choosing Paukert to give a recital, Roseann Penner Kaufman, Bethel College instructor of organ, said, “I wanted a top-notch performer and a good teacher. Karel filled in for Jim Higdon [an organ faculty member at the University of Kansas, where Kaufman earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in organ performance] during a sabbatical a few years ago, and I have a lot of respect for his scholarship and ability to communicate with students.”

Paukert’s appearance at Bethel will also include a “public lesson” with Bethel College student organist Chelsea Vaught, at which anyone interested may observe Paukert’s teaching methods. This will take place Monday, Feb. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the chapel. Both the lesson and the recital are free and open to the public.

Composers on the program Paukert is planning for the Bethel College recital include Soler, Pasquini, Bellini, J.S. Bach, Mozart, D’Alessio and Janacek, Kaufman said.

Born in the Czech Republic, Paukert is a graduate of the Prague Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory in Ghent, Belgium. After leaving his native country, he was a principal oboist with the Iceland National Symphony Orchestra and later a deputy organist of St. Bavon Cathedral in Ghent. He then immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen in 1972.

Paukert has taught at Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Kansas and Valparaiso (Ind.) University.

Paukert’s organ performances have been acclaimed internationally for their perception, vibrancy and excitement and he is also in constant demand as a judge for international organ competitions. A review in The Kansas City Star said, “Everything in this program betokened commanding intelligence and sensitivity, effortless virtuosity and a compelling sense of rhythm,” while The Cleveland Plain Dealer said, “To everything, he brought bold artistry that conveyed the grandeur, mystery and color of the repertoire at hand-and foot.”

Following his retirement, in December 2004, from the Cleveland Museum of Art, where for 30 years he directed the performing art series and played numerous organ recitals each season, Paukert became curator emeritus of that institution. His energetic devotion to the enlargement of organ repertoire has encouraged composers to write works for him, which he often features in his programs. He continues to serve as organist and choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, a position he has held since 1979.

Paukert has received numerous awards, including two for programming new music from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), an award for Excellence in Sacred Music from the Cleveland Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and a Lifetime Achievement award from the publishers of the magazine Northern Ohio Live. In 2003, the Cleveland Institute of Music awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree.

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.

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