NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For many years, it has been a spring tradition for Bethel College to host the Kansas Mennonite Men’s Chorus concert – and, more recently, to have the Bethel College Men’s Ensemble join them.
The concert will be this Sunday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall. Admission is free, but the KMMC always takes an offering to support the work of Mennonite Central Committee, a worldwide relief and development organization to which KMMC has given more than $600,000 during the choir's existence.
The Bethel College Men’s Ensemble has with the KMMC in its Bethel concert over the past several years. The ensemble’s director, William Eash, who directs all choral activities at Bethel, sees great value for the group in this particular experience.
“There are a number of things I think are really valuable for this concert,” he said. “One, it engages my male singers in a chorus of 300 other male singers. That’s a completely different experience than singing in a choir of 20 to 25. Two, they encounter men from across the area. So they’re singing with guys who are not a part of the college and that interaction is really valuable.
“Three, what I’ve found in the past is that some of the guys who, because of schedule conflicts, don’t return to the Men’s Ensemble are [still] able to find time to sing with the Mennonite men’s chorus in the spring.”
The Bethel College Men’s Ensemble has been rehearsing for the KMMC concert since the start of the spring semester. The “tricky part,” Eash said, is that they will not be able practice with the larger group until the day of the concert.
In addition, Eash will neither direct nor sing in this year’s KMMC Bethel concert, which is scheduled each year on the same weekend as the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale in Hutchinson and this year conflicts with the Bethel College Chamber Choir’s appearance with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Eash has sung with the chorus in other years.
The KMMC brings together about 300 men from all over all the state to sing in two concerts in the spring, the one at Bethel and a second at Bethany College in Lindsborg, which will be Sunday, April 22, at 7 p.m. in Presser Hall.
KMMC director is Greg Bontrager, North Newton, the high school vocal teacher for the Buhler school district and a graduate of Hesston College, Bethel College and Wichita State University. For more information about KMMC, visit www.ksmenschorus.org or find them on Facebook.
Members of the Bethel College Men’s Ensemble are Leland Brown, Galveston, Texas; Lukas Butkus, Freeman, S.D.; Will Chao, Taichung City, Taiwan; Cody Claassen, Whitewater; Kevin Coash, El Dorado; Caleb Epp, Marion, S.D.; Tevin Freel, Woodlands, Texas; James Goerzen, Goessel; Chaz Graber, Topeka; Riley King, Lawrence; Ethan Knight, Moundridge; Nathan Knight, Moundridge; Ben Kreider, North Newton; Luke Loganbill, Moundridge; Cris Nelson; John Regier, Beatrice, Neb.; Casey Schunn, Whitewater; Dalton Smith, Burrton; Micah Smith, Topeka; Aaron Tschetter, Freeman, S.D.; Henry Unruh, Newton; and Adam Voth, Wichita.