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The groundhog is invited to bring his cello to festival at Bethel

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Groundhog Day is past, but the prognosticating rodent will be honored March 20 at Bethel College with a day-long cello festival named in his honor.

Back by popular demand is Groundhog Cello Day, which Bethel and Friends University will co-host Saturday, March 20, in the Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. The day is free and open to the public and all cellists (there is an entry fee for competitions).

The event includes a competition for cello ensembles, cello clinics and a big cello recital in the evening.

The cello chamber competition, with $800 in prize money to be given out, begins at 9 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. The public is invited to watch the competition.

Each chamber group that competes (either live or with a recording previously submitted) – whether cello quartet, string quartet or rock band – must include at least one cello and must play at least five minutes of music and no more than 15 minutes. Two $400 first prizes – in “alternative” (which can include rock, folk, electric, original compositions, etc.) and “classical” – will be awarded and the winning and finalist groups will play during the evening concert.

The afternoon program will begin with a cello recital at 1 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium by Bethel and Friends students and faculty, including Bethel’s cello quartet Mello Cello, which performed recently at the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) annual spring workshop.

The afternoon will also include cello workshops (a sight-reading session, “cello yoga” and other cello-related events) and a rehearsal of the Groundhog Cello Orchestra. William Harris Lee Co. of Chicago will have cellos and bows to try and Ed Laut and Erinn Renyer of E&E Music will have cello ensemble music for sale.

The Groundhog Cello Orchestra and the top chamber groups will give a concert at 6:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium.

Coordinators for the Bethel/Friends Groundhog Cello Day are Susan Mayo, cello instructor at both Bethel and Friends, and Timothy Shade, Bethel College instructor of instrumental music and director of instrumental ensembles and music education at Bethel. For more information, including where and how to send a cello competition entry CD, DVD or video, or to have Groundhog Cello Orchestra music sent ahead of time, contact Mayo at (316) 258-2342, (620) 983-2199 or

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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