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Two vocal groups combine for one end-of-year concert

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s independent vocal ensembles Open Road and Avenue 8 will perform an array of spirituals, gospels, classical and contemporary works Sunday, May 17, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Audiences can expect beautiful a cappella singing from two groups, one all male and one all female, and then a couple pieces performed by the combination of the two groups, forming a small chamber choir,” said Nathaniel Yoder, junior from Kalona, Iowa, and Open Road member.

Open Road will perform “Come, Come Ye Saints” (arr. Voth), Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria (Angelus Domini),” “Prayer of the Children” (arr. Klouse) and “Here by the Water” (arr. Linscheid), among others.

Junior and Open Road member Joshua Powell, Basehor, said, “‘Here by the Water’ is my favorite piece. It has quickly become the song Open Road is known for.

“The solo line by Cameron Voth and Kyle Unruh, the way those lines move along against the background of the other voices, sets such a calming mood, that can sometimes cause the singers to get lost in the music,” he added.

Avenue 8 adds to the repertoire with Doley’s “There is No Rose,” Lang’s “Esto Les Digo,” “Octe Nas” (arr. Kedrov) and “One Voice” (arr. Ruth Moody, a signature song of The Wailin’ Jennys).

“‘One Voice’ [is] a beautiful piece, with many layers of meaning,” said Sharayah Williams, Avenue 8 member and junior from Kalona, Iowa. “But for a musical group, perhaps the message at its simplest form is that all eight of us women can come together and create some great music.

“We’ve all got a different story, voice, reason for singing,” she continued, “but here we are all together because we love what we’re doing.”

Both groups will combine to sing two Billings pieces, “David’s Lamentation” and “Creation,” both from The Continental Harmony.

Members of both ensembles continue to find significance in making music together.

“The group has been a teaching tool for me,” Powell said. “Learning how to work in such a close group, knowing when to give and take in a musical setting and learning how to really get passed any differences you may have with another to really make the music something to be proud of.”

Williams added, “It was definitely a challenge to form a group that could work well together, sing well together and devote the time to get better together. But this year, the work has paid off. We have an awesome group of ladies who work hard, and the proof is in the variety and quality of pieces we’ve prepared for this concert.

“Plus, we have a lot of fun together.”

In addition to Powell and Yoder, members of Open Road are Alex Boldt, sophomore from Parlier, Calif., Evan Conrad, freshman from Lakewood, Colo., Austin McCabe-Juhnke, junior from North Newton, Caleb Stephens, sophomore from Lawrence, Kyle Unruh, junior from Goessel, Cameron Voth, freshman from Goessel, and Michael Voth, senior from Topeka.

In addition to Williams, members of Avenue 8 are Justine Erb, sophomore from Henderson, Neb., Rachel Gaeddert, sophomore from Larned, Sierra Pryce, sophomore from North Newton, Genevieve Rucker, sophomore from Lawrence, Monica Schmidt, sophomore from Mount Hope, Aimee Siebert, junior from Topeka, and Brittany Voth, junior from Goessel.

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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