NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For Open Road, the men’s a cappella group at Bethel College, the upcoming concert Sunday, May 16, is the last of this season – and for three members, the last of their Open Road career.
Seniors Austin McCabe-Juhnke, North Newton, Gregory Shelly, Lenexa, and Kyle Unruh, Goessel, reflected on their time with the self-directed musical ensemble.
While none of the three will graduate May 23, all will be working to complete their degrees next fall – in music, biology, mathematics and/or foreign language with teacher certification.
“I first experienced Open Road from the audience, watching classmates perform with the group,” said Unruh, “so I was excited to perform with [them] the next year. It’s rewarding and challenging to work with a self-directed group, but we enjoy the freedom to shape our own music.”
Shelly emphasized the effort needed to maintain a student-created and student-led musical group.
“I would say that Open Road was a lot more work than I thought it was going to be when I first entered the group, [because of] disagreements and competing personalities,” he said. “It was still fun for me, because we were able to actually work together to create good music and joke around a whole heck of a lot. I don’t know where else I would have had friendship like this with that type of connection.”
McCabe-Juhnke added, “I think that Open Road was my first glimpse into a self-directed ensemble. It was interesting to be with people from all class designations, from freshman to senior. All contributed together to work toward the group success – it’s a microcosm for the whole Bethel experience.”
Open Road’s 7 p.m. performance in Memorial Hall includes a variety of old favorites and new, technically challenging pieces. Admission is free and open to the public.
Some of the repertoire includes “We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace,” arranged by William Appling; “Beautiful Savior,” arranged by F. Melius Christiansen and Kurt J. Wycisk; “Lead Me To Rest,” by Keith Lancaster; “Molly Malone,” arranged by Philip Lawson; “Loch Lomond,” arranged by Jonathan Quick; “Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen über dir,” by Felix Mendelssohn; “Kyrie,” by Nathaniel Yoder, Open Road member and senior from Kalona, Iowa; “Aftonen,” by Hugo Alfvén; “Daemon Irrepit Callidus,” by György Orbán; and “And Can It Be,” by Thomas Campbell, arranged by Tim Mohel and Robert Peri.
In addition to McCabe-Juhnke, Shelly, Unruh and Yoder, Open Road members include: senior Joshua Powell, Basehor; juniors Alex Boldt, Parlier, Calif., Caleb Stephens, Lawrence, and Cameron Voth, Hillsboro; and sophomore Evan Conrad, Lakewood, Colo.
Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. 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 2008 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.