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Jazz ensembles to showcase big band music

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Those who attend the Bethel College Jazz Ensemble Christmas Gala concert will be treated to a showcase of jazz big band music blended with jazz arrangements of holiday classics.

In addition, Jim Pisano, assistant professor of music, said that within the big band genre there are “varied styles of jazz . . . a Basie-style swing is vastly different from an Ellington one.”

Pisano emphasized that this concert is a culmination of students’ hard work throughout the semester as the two jazz ensembles have increased their local performances. Jazz Ensemble II performed on campus last week and the BC Jazz Combo had recent performances at Reba’s and at Bethel for a student recital.

“I’m really excited about the jazz ensembles’ performance schedule thus far,” Pisano said. “I believe it’s so important for these ensembles to play as much as possible. It helps solidify the concepts studied. In the future, we will continue to actively perform on campus and at various venues throughout the community.”

The Jazz Ensemble Christmas Gala Concert takes place Friday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Bethel College Fine Arts Center. It is free and open to the public.

Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: saxophones, Kyle Claassen, sophomore from Andover, Evan Fast, sophomore from Goessel, Brett Jackson, senior from North Newton, Joel Linscheid, senior from North Newton, and Heather Robertsen, sophomore from Hesston; trombones, Benjamin Harder, sophomore from Hesston, Christian Loganbill, sophomore from Wichita, Rob Tierney, Bethel College instructor of trombone, Hesston, and Andrew Toews, senior from North Newton; trumpets, Aaron Linscheid, senior from North Newton, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, sophomore from North Newton, Ryan Stutzman, freshman from Westminster, Colo., and Kyle Unruh, sophomore from Goessel; bass, Michael Voth, junior from Topeka; guitar, Bradley McKellip, sophomore from Newton; drums, Nathaniel Yoder, sophomore from Kalona, Iowa; and piano, Ben Stucky, freshman from Moon Township, Pa.

Jazz Ensemble II personnel are: saxophones, Brent Badawieh, senior from Parsons, and Amy Flax, freshman from Brownell; trumpet, Ben Claassen, freshman from Davis, Calif.; bass, Monica Schmidt, freshman from Mount Hope; guitar, Blake Long, senior from Moran; and drums, David Kautz, Hesston High School student.

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 was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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