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Year of performing winds up with perennial favorite Jazz on the Green

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s jazz program will wind up an exciting performing season with the perennial favorite end-of-year event, Jazz on the Green.

In addition to on-campus appearances, Bethel jazz groups have performed at KMEA in Wichita, the Wichita Jazz Festival and the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival in Greeley. Bethel jazz players also got a chance to showcase their talents alongside jazz great Bobby Watson, who was on campus as a guest artist earlier in the spring.

“The ensembles, because of all those performances, have really polished the material to a very high level,” said James Pisano, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies.

“This [Jazz on the Green] concert will be a great way to showcase the Bethel jazz groups in that respect,” he added.

Audiences can hear the culmination of student jazz musicians’ efforts, as well as some new tunes, on Wednesday, May 13, at 8 p.m.

As the name indicates, Jazz on the Green happens on the Green in the middle of campus. It is free and open to the public. Since no chairs will be provided outside, the audience is encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on, and is also welcome to bring picnic food and non-alcoholic beverages. In case of bad weather, the concert moves into Memorial Hall (please note that no food or drink is allowed in the auditorium).

Jazz Ensemble I will open and close the concert, with Jazz Ensemble II playing in between.

Pisano said that some of Jazz I’s pieces include Duke Ellington’s “Jack the Bear,” featuring seniors Michael Voth, Topeka, on bass and Brett Jackson, North Newton, on clarinet; the “barn-burning, up-tempo ‘Wind Machine,’” made famous by Count Basie; and Johnny Mandel’s “lyrical and beautifully warm ‘A Time for Love,’” arranged by Hank Levy, which features senior Andrew Toews, North Newton, on trombone.

Vocalist Naomi Graber, freshman from Elkhart, Ind., will be featured in Jazz Ensemble II’s performance of Bart Howard’s “Fly Me to the Moon,” arranged by Sammy Nestico.

Much of the solo space will feature Toews, Jackson and Joel Linscheid, North Newton, all seniors who will graduate at the end of this month.

“We’ve had this forward momentum going not only throughout this year, but from year to year,” said Pisano. “We have so many exciting things going on. This is a great way for us to end the semester – for people to hang out on the lawn and enjoy themselves while listening to some great music.”

Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: on saxophone, in addition to Jackson and Linscheid, Kyle Claassen, Andover, Evan Fast, Goessel, and Camden Pankratz, Hesston; on trumpet, Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif., Kyle Doesken, Derby, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, and Kyle Unruh, Goessel; on trombone, in addition to Toews, Eric Goering, McPherson, Benjamin Harder, Hesston, and Christian Loganbill, Wichita; on guitar, Bradley McKellip, Newton; on drums, Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa; on bass, Michael Voth, Topeka; and on piano, Ben Stucky, Moon Township, Pa.

Jazz Ensemble II personnel are: on saxophone, Brent Badawieh, Dallas, Texas, Amy Flax, Brownell, Naomi Graber, Elkhart, Ind., and Carmen Tamerius, Wichita; on cello, Anna Cook, Topeka; on bass, Chris Yoder, Valley Center; on guitar, Kevin Galo, Doral, Fla.; and on drums, Mark Smith, North Newton.

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 only Kansas private college to be ranked in’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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