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Kauffman Museum celebrates historic organ

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Several former Bethel College faculty members will reunite to celebrate a historic 1750 cabinet organ and headline the annual Living Endowment Dinner at Kauffman Museum Oct. 24.

The dinner, held on-site at the museum, is one of its primary fundraisers. This year, it will feature music by The Deknatel Trio, comprised of former Bethel music faculty: Shirley Sprunger King on organ, Don Kehrberg on oboe and Margaret Toews on flute. The three founded the trio in 1978 and played regularly in the Newton area, as well as touring in the Midwest, for several years.

The evening coincides with the International Year of the Organ, during which members of the American Guild of Organists, which includes a Bethel College chapter, will present recitals featuring music for organ.

The Deknatel Trio took its name from Kauffman Museum’s cabinet organ, located in the museum auditorium and first owned by Dutch Mennonite pastor Johannes Deknatel, a resident of Amsterdam in the mid-1700s. This organ, which would have been used in the Deknatel home for chamber music and to accompany singing, represents one of the earliest musical instruments used regularly in Mennonite circles.

The Deknatel organ was completely restored last year by the Noack Organ Company of Georgetown, Mass. It is the only organ in North America built by master organ builder Jakob Teschemacher in what is now Wuppertal, Germany.

The Deknatel Trio will play sonatas by J.B. Loeillet and Georg F. Handel, 18th-century works that would have been contemporary to the organ. King will also perform solo organ literature by Johann Pachelbel, J.S. Bach, Max Reger, Johann Ludwig Krebs and Ernst Pepping.

King taught at Bethel College from 1977-2002, and was organist at Bethel College Mennonite Church and organist-harpsichordist for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Since 2004, she has been Director of Academic Advising and adjunct organ and harpsichord instructor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., where she is also organist at First Presbyterian Church on the historic square.

Kehrberg, Newton, is professor emeritus of music at Bethel College. He served on the music faculty from 1972-2003, and continues as adjunct instructor of oboe. He founded the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts in 1996 and is current BCAPA director. He is also principal oboe in the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, and cantor and choir director at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Newton.

Toews taught flute at Bethel College from 1978-84. After teaching at international schools in India, Pakistan and Israel, she returned to Kansas, where she works in software engineering.

The Living Endowment Dinner is Kauffman Museum’s premier fund-raising event, begun in 1987 to celebrate the grand opening of the museum’s permanent exhibition “Of Land and People.” Attendees will dine by lamplight among the museum exhibits before the music recital. Tickets are $125 per plate with $110 as a charitable contribution to support the museum’s operations. For reservations or more information, contact Kauffman Museum (316-283-1612 or

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