NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Shortly after returning from its quadrennial Europe tour, the Bethel College Concert Choir will present a home concert, Sunday, Feb. 7, at a different time from previously printed schedules.
The concert will take place at 2 p.m. in Memorial Hall and is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to help with tour expenses.
The choir’s 2010 tour, from Jan. 6-25, took the group to five countries, for a total of 14 concerts under the direction of William Eash, professor of music.
The choir performed in Poland (Gdansk and Szczecin); Switzerland (Les Bémont and Moron); France (Montbéliard and Wissembourg); Germany (Berlin, Leipzig, Wuppertal, Krefeld and Espelkamp); and The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Ouddorp, Haarlem and Rotterdam).
The choir has been making trips to Europe every four years since the 1950s. The last time it went to Poland was 1978. This time, the group performed in the former Mennonite church building, which now houses a Pentecostal congregation.
The choir sang at two Mennonite churches in Switzerland (the Anabaptist movement, in which Mennonites are rooted, began in that country in the 16th century, in Zurich), at Evangelische Mennonitengemeinde Sonnenberg in Le Bémont and at Eglise Evangélique Mennonite du Petit Val-Moron in Moron, and two in France, Chapelle de la Praire in Montbéliard and Église Évangélique Mennonite in Geisberg (Wissembourg).
“I don’t know whether the choir has ever sung in the Mennonite church in Montbéliard,” said Merle Schlabaugh, professor of German, who did much of the advance planning and accompanied the choir, “but if it has, it certainly hasn’t been within the last 25 years.”
The choir spent most of its time in Germany and The Netherlands, including a performance in Wuppertal, Germany. Bethel College has a historic connection going back more than 50 years with the Bergische Universität in Wuppertal. There are currently two Wuppertal exchange students on the Bethel campus for the 2009-10 school year with two Bethel students recently returned from the fall semester at Wuppertal and two scheduled to go for the spring semester.
The Bethel College Concert Choir performs a mix of sacred and secular music, including a traditional Kenyan praise song, “Wana Baraka”; a setting of John 1:14, “Und das Wort ward fleisch,” by Georg Philip Telemann; Cesar Alejandro Carrillo’s “O Magnum Mysterium”; a setting of the “Kyrie eleison” by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and two settings of the “Gloria,” by Carrillo and by Jan Sandström; Javier Busto’s “O Sacrum Convivium”; “Singet dem Herr ein neues lied” by Johann Pachelbel; three “songs of faith” by Canadian composer Eric Whitacre (“i will wade out,” “hope, faith, life, love” and “i thank You God for most this amazing day”); Dietrich Buxtehude’s “Alleluia”; two arrangements of Stephen Foster tunes, “Nelly Bly” and “Hard Times”; two arrangements by Moses Hogan of Negro spirituals, “Deep River” and “Hold On”; an original composition, “Echo Song,” by choir member Nathaniel Yoder with words by Nathan Bartel, assistant professor of English; and several others.
On this tour, the choir gave the world premiere of “Peacefully,” a commissioned piece by composer Paul Rudy, a Bethel graduate who is on the music faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
European Concert Choir personnel are: Holly Anthony, Sterling; Allison Banman, Goessel; Joel Boettger, Hesston; Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif.; Evan Conrad, Lakewood, Colo.; Anna Cook, Lawrence; Kelsey Easterday, Manhattan; Nicole Eaton, Dodge City; Justine Erb, Henderson, Neb.; Evan Fast, Goessel; Elizabeth Friesen, Littleton, Colo.; Kellen Goertzen, Henderson, Neb.; Ryan Goertzen, Goessel; Naomi Graber, Elkhart, Ind.; Benjamin Harder, Hesston; Clint Harris, Manhattan; 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; 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 Forbes.com’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 www.bethelks.edu.