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Violin duo concert to benefit Bethel’s Hohmann String Scholarship

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For the second year in a row, the violin duo Nova Deco will perform at Bethel College to benefit a music scholarship fund established there.

Nova Deco is composed of Nancy Johnson and Dominique Corbeil. The concert is Sunday, April 3, at 3 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. She teaches private violin lessons and plays extensively in the Wichita area.

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 12 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 is affiliated with Arts Partners, which provides artists to public schools for performances and workshops.

Nova Deco’s April 3 program will include works from the 20th century but will also range into other eras.

The program begins with two canonic sonatas, separated by more than 200 years. A canonic sonata is a work in three movements in which the performers play identical music, each starting at a certain point after the other.

The Canonic Sonata No. 4 by Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767) is one of a series of six he wrote for flute or violin, in a well-known form for this composer.

It will be followed on the program by Kanonisches Vortragsstück by Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), considered one of the four fathers of modern music, along with Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Bartok. This particular canonic sonata comes from Hindemith's neo-baroque period and was written in the 1920s.

The third selection is Duo Concertant, Opus 57 No. 1 by Belgian composer Charles de Beriot (1802-1870). De Beriot is credited with establishing the Franco-Belgian school of violin playing, combining classical elegance with technical virtuosity.

The first half concludes with Luciano Berio’s Duetti per due violini. Berio, who died in 2003, was a pioneer in electronic music. The Duetti in its entirety consists of 34 short duets (along the lines of Bartok’s 44 duets). Nova Deco will play 11 of them – “Bela,” “Igor,” “Alfred,” “Aldo,” “Peppino,” “Rodion,” “Maja,” “Rivi,” “Yossi,” “Leonardo” and “Bruno” – each based on a different personality Berio knew, including friends, teachers, publishers and mentors.

After an intermission, Nova Deco will conclude the April 3 program with Sonata for two violins, Opus 15a by Hungarian-born Miklos Rozsa (1907-1995). Rozsa was one of Hollywood’s most prolific composers, earning 16 Academy Award nominations, with three wins, for film scores, including Ben Hur, Quo Vadis and King of Kings. Rozsa moved to Hollywood in 1939 but composed the Sonata for two violins in 1930, while he still lived in Leipzig. The work exhibits Rozsa’s love of Hungarian folk music through the Eastern European idioms that abound in it.

Johnson and Corbeil chose the recital pieces mainly out of common interests. All the pieces are unusual and fun in their own way, Johnson said, adding that she is particularly excited to play the Rozsa.

“In looking through stuff and trying to find things to [play], we found this Rozsa duo that’s really interesting and not done very often at all,” Johnson said.

The Rupert Hohmann String Scholarship, which the recital will benefit, 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 the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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