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Three Bethel music groups chosen for 2008 KMEA event

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Three Bethel College music groups have been selected to perform during the annual In-Service Workshop of the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) Feb. 28-March 1, 2008, at the Century II convention center in Wichita.

The Bethel College Concert Choir, under the direction of William Eash, professor of music, will sing Thursday, Feb. 28, and Jazz Ensemble I and the Bethel College Jazz Combo, directed by James Pisano, assistant professor of music, will play Saturday, March 1. They join 46 other instrumental and vocal groups and ensembles from across the state, representing all age levels from elementary through collegiate.

Every group that performs at the KMEA annual meeting is chosen by audition. The last time a Bethel College group was selected was 2003.

Performing during the KMEA In-Service Workshop is a great opportunity for Bethel’s department of music, says Eash, because it means exposure to “the best high school singers and instrumentalists in the state, who are part of the annual All-State Band, Choir and Orchestra. It also places us in front of the state’s best music educators, who have influence on where their students end up attending college.”

The Concert Choir sings at 3:55 p.m. Feb. 28 in Century II’s Mary Jane Teall Little Theater. The planned program is “I thank You God for most this amazing day” by Eric Whitacre; the African-American spiritual “Deep River” arranged by Moses Hogan; “Psalm 92” by Wichita composer Miriam Overholt; “Gloria” by Cesar Alejandro Carrillo; “Hard Times Come Again No More” by Stephen Foster, arranged by Mark Keller; “O Sacrum Convivium” by Javier Busto; and “Come Sunday” by Duke Ellington, arranged by Alice Parker.

Eash plans to feature student conductors Dan Graber, senior from Marion, S.D., and Joel Linscheid, senior from North Newton, on some of the numbers.

A program highlight, Eash says, is the Overholt piece, commissioned especially for Bethel College singers and music faculty (Overholt generally writes for band and orchestra). “Psalm 92” will feature Soyoun Chun, Bethel College assistant professor of voice, as soprano soloist, with James Pisano on clarinet, Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music, on piano, and Richard Tirk, assistant professor of music and director of instrumental ensembles and music education, on trumpet.

Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I and the Jazz Combo will perform at 11 a.m. March 1 in Hyatt Regency Ballrooms F-H. The planned program for Jazz Ensemble I is “Cotton Tail” by Duke Ellington; “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” by Sigmund Romberg, arranged by Robert McCurdy; “Ask Me Now” by Thelonious Monk, arranged by Greg Yasinitsky; the traditional tune “Wade in the Water” arranged by Wendell Logan; and “Magic Flea” by Sammy Nestico. The Jazz Combo will play “Satin Doll” by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, an arrangement by Bethel College senior Aaron Linscheid.

The Concert Choir, Jazz Ensemble I and the Jazz Combo will give a public performance of their KMEA programs at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, in Memorial Hall. This will be the world premiere of Miriam Overholt’s “Psalm 92.” The event is free and open to the public.

William Eash directs choral activities at Bethel College, where he is responsible for four choirs. He also teaches conducting and music history. He has been at Bethel College since 1999.

While in a previous position at Iowa Mennonite School, Kalona, Eash founded the Eastern Iowa Men’s Chorus, the Kalona Community Choir and the Kalona Chamber Orchestra and directed the Mid-Prairie Children’s Choir. He has also served as director of choral activities at the University of Evansville and as both director of music and director of athletics at Newman University.

Since his arrival in Kansas, Eash has been a clinician and guest conductor for the Heart of America Choral Festival (2000), Wichita All City Middle School Chorus (2000), Wichita Public Schools (2001/2002), Newton High School (2002), Connecticut Regional All-State (2005), Heart of America League (2005), Wyandotte League Music Festival (2006) and Southeast Kansas Music Educators District Choir (2007).

James Pisano, a jazz saxophonist and clarinetist, has international exposure as a performer. His performance and teaching invitations have taken him to nearly every state as well as to Europe and South Africa. He has directed the jazz studies program at Bethel College since fall 2006, with previous teaching positions at East Tennessee State University and the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music in Moscow, Idaho.

As a clarinetist, Pisano has performed in the New World Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as the Florida Philharmonic. He has served in the Wichita Grand Opera orchestra in the position of clarinet/bass clarinet since the company’s opening premiere performances in 2001 with Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

As a saxophonist, Pisano has shared the stage with many jazz luminaries, including Phil Woods, Frank Foster, Louie Bellson, Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Nancy Wilson, James Moody, Hank Jones, the Lionel Hampton Big Band, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Artie Shaw Band, the Cab Calloway Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie Reunion Big Band, among many other internationally known jazz artists from many different generations.

Bethel College Concert Choir personnel are: Holly Anthony, Sterling; Brittany Baker, Kingman; Allison Banman, Goessel; Caitlin Buerge, Kansas City, Mo.; MeLissa Carter, Newton; Chelsea Chaffin, Lawrence; Kate Duncan, Kansas City, Kan.; Kelsey Easterday, Manhattan; Evan Fast, Goessel; Andrew Findley, Coffeyville; Elizabeth Friesen, Littleton, Colo.; Julie Fromm, Newton; Daniel Graber, Marion, S.D.; Chelsea Hahn, North Newton; Benjamin Harder, Hesston; Brett Jackson, North Newton; Adam Larson, Lena, Ill.; Kate Larson, Clay Center; Joel Linscheid, North Newton; Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton; Andrea Nickel, Windsor, Colo.; Caley Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Lindsey Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Joshua Powell, Basehor; Kelly Reed, Edinburg, Texas; Leanne Reimer, Hesston; Heather Robertsen, Hesston; Ben Santos, Smithville, Mo.; Susan Schmeichel, Hurley, S.D.; Monica Schmidt, Mount Hope; Charles Schrag, Freeman, S.D.; Greg Shelly, Lenexa; Aimee Siebert, Topeka; Laurie Steffen, Cunningham; Caleb Stephens, Lawrence; Jill Swenson, Hutchinson; Kyle Unruh, Goessel; Michael Unruh, Peabody; Brittany Voth, Goessel; Michael Voth, Topeka; Kristin Wedel, Hutchinson; Max Wedel, Tucson, Ariz.; John Wiens, Goessel; Sharayah Williams, Kalona, Iowa; Oliver Whitney, Peabody; and Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa.

Personnel for the Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I and Bethel College Jazz Combo are: saxophones, Kyle Claassen, Andover, Evan Fast, Goessel, Brett Jackson, North Newton, Joel Linscheid, North Newton, and Heather Robertsen, Hesston; trombones, Benjamin Harder, Hesston, Christian Loganbill, Wichita, Rob Tierney, Hesston (Bethel College music faculty member), and Andrew Toews, North Newton; trumpets, Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif., Aaron Linscheid, North Newton, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, Ryan Stutzman, Westminster, Colo., and Kyle Unruh, Goessel; bass, Michael Voth, Topeka; drums, Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa; guitar, Bradley McKellip, Newton; and piano, Ben Stucky, Moon Township, Pa.

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.

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