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Violin duo will play to benefit string scholarship at Bethel

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College violin instructor Nancy Johnson’s upcoming faculty recital will showcase duets and serve as a benefit concert for a string scholarship fund at Bethel.

Nova Deco, a violin duo composed of Johnson and Dominique Corbeil, will perform Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel on the Bethel campus. Admission is free, with a freewill offering taken to benefit the Rupert Hohmann String Scholarship Fund.

Nancy Johnson is instructor of violin at Bethel College and has been principal 2nd violin of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra since 2000. She holds degrees in violin performance from the University of Kansas and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dominique Corbeil studied at the University of Montreal and Montclair State University. She is currently assistant principal 2nd violin of the WSO and principal second violin with the Wichita Grand Opera and a private violin teacher in Wichita. She is also a member of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra and the Tulsa Ballet Orchestra and for the last 11 summers has been part of the Colorado Music Festival.

Johnson and Corbeil formed Nova Deco in 2009 to present violin duo repertoire, in particular music of the early 20th century.

Nova Deco’s Bethel program will feature French music from the 18th and 20th centuries as a tribute to Rupert Hohmann’s 1865 J.B. Vuillaume violin, which Johnson will use for the performance. The concert includes “Chaconne” by Jacques Aubert, Sonata Op. 12, No. 5 by Jean-Marie Leclair and “Duo pour Deux Violons” by Darius Milhaud, as well as a Mozart arrangement for two violins from a 1792 edition of The Magic Flute, and the Sonata in C Major, Op. 56 (for two violins) by Serge Prokofieff.

Aubert and Leclair were both violinists in the French court, credited with bringing the zest of Italian virtuosity into French playing. Leclair is considered the father of French violin style, expanding the technique to include a left hand tremolo, which is now known as vibrato. Milhaud was 20th-century violinist, composer and teacher. Among his composition students were Dave Brubeck, Phillip Glass, Steve Reich and Burt Bacharach. His "Duo pour Deux Violons" is traditionally formed but harmonically challenging.

In Mozart’s day, popular operas and symphonies were often arranged for chamber groups for everyday enjoyment. Mozart arranged his opera The Magic Flute for two flutes or violins, to be performed at Bethel in an arrangement made more specifically violinistic. Included are many of the most popular arias of the opera, with Papageno, the Queen of the Night and Pamina represented.

Prokofieff wrote the Sonata in C major (for two violins) in 1932 while on holiday in southern France, just before his return to the Soviet Union and just prior to composing the ballet Romeo and Juliet and the 2nd Violin Concerto. Much of the harmonic language of Romeo and Juliet can be heard in this sonata. The composer’s son characterized the four brief movements as being lyrical, playful, fantastic and violent in turn.

The Rupert Hohmann String Scholarship was endowed by Rupert Hohmann of North Newton, retired violin professor and son of former Bethel music faculty member Walter Hohmann. This is the first scholarship at Bethel to be dedicated to the use of string students.

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 profiled in Colleges of Distinction 2009-10. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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