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Concert Choir to perform with Wichita Symphony

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Concert Choir will join the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for its annual free family holiday concert.

The concert, this year titled “The Spirit of Christmas,” is Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Century II Convention Hall. The program will consist of traditional Christmas carols and festive holiday music. Jay Decker is guest conductor and soprano Karen Robu will be guest vocalist.

“It’s an opportunity to do some standard pops literature which the students here don't sing much of,” said William Eash, Bethel professor of music and Concert Choir director.

The Concert Choir will participate in four pieces: Harry Simeone’s arrangement of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”; Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”; Bob Krogstad’s “In Adoration of the Child”; and John Leavitt’s arrangement of “O Holy Night.”

“It’s an honor to be invited, and to be performing with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra,” said Eash. “It’s an opportunity for students to perform with a metropolitan and professional orchestra – most students won’t have the chance to do that.

“The students are working really hard and we have the pieces ready to go,” he added. “I encourage everybody to come and see it.”

The concert is free, but tickets are recommended. For ticket order forms, visit or watch upcoming editions of the Wichita Eagle. Tickets can also be picked up at the Century II box office. Phone orders will not be accepted.

Those with tickets will be admitted first. Those without tickets may enter at 7:20 p.m. to fill any empty seats.

Jay Decker joined the Wichita State University faculty in 1971 and served as professor of music, conductor of the WSU Symphony Orchestra and director of string studies until his retirement in 1998. In addition to his duties at WSU, he served as the associate conductor of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, conducting Classics Concerts, Young People’s Concerts and other special programs. Since 1998, Decker has continued in his position as conductor of Ballet Wichita’s performances of The Nutcracker, as well as accepting several guest-conducting engagements.

A native Wichitan, Decker earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Wichita, a Master of Science in music education from the University of Illinois and Doctor of Musical Arts in orchestral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Before coming to Wichita, Decker was on the UMKC faculty for eight years, where he conducted the University Symphony, the UMKC Civic Orchestra and the Kansas City Civic Ballet orchestra and was also active as a freelance professional cellist.

Under Decker’s direction, the WSU Symphony Orchestra made two successful European tours, received two ASCAP Awards for the performance of American Music and toured throughout the Midwest.

Karen Robu is a favorite local performer for the Wichita area. She has appeared with Music Theatre of Wichita, Crown Uptown and Mosley Street Melodrama and Cabaret.

Concert Choir personnel are: Holly Anthony, Sterling; Allison Banman, Goessel; Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif.; Joel Boettger, Hesston; Evan Conrad, Lakewood, Colo.; Anna Cook, Lawrence; Kelsey Easterday, Manhattan; Nicole Eaton, Dodge City; Justine Erb, Henderson, Neb.; Evan Fast, Goessel; Kellen Goertzen, Henderson, Neb.; Ryan Goertzen, Goessel; Naomi Graber, Elkhart, Ind.; Benjamin Harder, Hesston; Clint Harris, Manhattan; Tyler Heide, Wichita; Julia Huxman, Wichita; Oliver Kropf, Oregon City, Ore.; Kevin Leary, North Newton; Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton; Taylor McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton; Jordan Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Kelsey Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Lindsey Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Camden Pankratz, Hesston; Lacey Parker, Lone Tree, Iowa; Sarah Pohl, Moundridge; Joshua Powell, Basehor; Sierra Pryce, North Newton; Keila Quenzer, Visalia, Calif.; Kelly Reed, Edinburg, Texas; Genevieve Rucker, Lawrence; Ben Santos, Smithville, Mo.; Monica Schmidt, Haven; Aimee Siebert, Topeka; Greg Shelly, Lenexa; Brian Skinner, Clay Center; Caleb Stephens, Lawrence; Austin Unruh, Goessel; Kyle Unruh, Goessel; Sara Volweider, Haven; Rachel Voran, Newton; Andrew Voth, Topeka; Brittany Voth, Goessel; Cameron Voth, Goessel; Sharayah Williams, Kalona, Iowa; and Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa.

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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