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Fall Festival "Jazzfest" to include campus, local groups

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Jazz by campus and local high school groups has long been a favorite feature of Bethel College’s annual Fall Festival, but James Pisano, Bethel’s director of jazz studies, hopes to make it into an even bigger deal.

To that end, he’s planning a mini jazz festival for this year’s “Fair Day” on campus Saturday, Oct. 3, beginning with performances by Bethel’s jazz ensembles, to be followed by Newton and Hesston High School jazz groups.

“I hope to expand this to include other groups in the future,” Pisano says. “I also hope that in the future we can feature a guest artist.”

Past Fall Festivals included jazz performances by different schools at different times. Having “Jazzfest 2009” in one place (the Tent on the Green) in one time block (1-3:30 p.m.) will, Pisano says, “give the players a chance to hear each other perform.”

NHS jazz groups are under the direction of long-time music teacher Keith Woolery. Hesston High School has a new director this year, Lyle Graversen.

Pisano noted that the jazz festival will include taking a freewill offering to benefit Bethel’s jazz program as well as provide funds to help defray travel costs for the high school groups.

Bethel’s three jazz groups – Jazz Ensembles I and II and Jazz Combo – will lead off the Jazzfest 2009 program.

Jazz I will play “Strike Up the Band” and “Wind Machine” by Sammy Nestico; “Day by Day” by Sammy Cahn (arr. John Clayton); “New Rochelle” by Bob Mintzer; and “Don’t Git Sassy” by Thad Jones. Jazz II will play “Kansas City” by Mike Stoller (arr. Carl Strommen); and “Willow Weep for Me” by Ann Ronell (arr. Dave Wolpe). Jazz Combo’s selections will be announced.

Jazz I personnel are: saxophones, Joel Boettger, Hesston, Evan Fast, Goessel, Jordan Ortman, Freeman, S.D., Camden Pankratz, Hesston, and Paul Voran, Newton; trumpets, Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif., Kyle Doesken, Derby, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, and Kyle Unruh, Goessel; trombones, Eric Goering, McPherson, Benjamin Harder, Hesston, Christian Loganbill, Wichita, and Rebecca Trumble, Newton; bass, Landon Bartel, Newton; guitar, Bradley McKellip, Newton; piano, Ben Stucky, Moon Township, Pa.; and drums, Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa.

Jazz II personnel are: saxophones, Amy Flax, Brownell, Ryan Goertzen, Goessel, and Andrew Unruh, Valley Center; cello, Anna Cook, Topeka; bass, Ruth Wiens, Newton; guitar, Megan Siebert, Topeka; and drums, Dominic Suter, Hutchinson.

Jazz Combo personnel are Joel Boettger and Paul Voran on saxophones, Austin McCabe-Juhnke on trumpet, Benjamin Harder on trombone, Bradley McKellip on guitar, Ben Stucky on piano and Nathaniel Yoder on drums.

For more details and a complete Fall Festival schedule, go to You can view and print a festival program at this site.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. 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 2009 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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