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Children invited to expressive arts event in Mem Hall

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Women’s Association is starting off this school year with an expressive arts event for children involving several college departments.

“Tales and Tunes – Adventures with Aesop” is a free, interactive concert, to take place Sunday, Sept. 23, at 2 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel College campus.

“The Bethel College Wind Ensemble, education department and forensics students are collaborating with BCWA to put together this fun event for children,” said BCWA member Valerie Klaassen, who was involved in the event planning. “Our target age is 3- and 4-year-olds through 4th and 5th grade, but everyone is welcome.”

The concert will be book-ended with two pieces for wind ensemble, “Mangulina” by Paul Basler and “Slava!” by Leonard Bernstein. The meat of it, however, will be Scott Watson’s 1999 musical composition with narration, Aesop’s Fables, which incorporates two of the better-known stories attributed to the ancient moralist (“The Tortoise and the Hare” and “The Boy who cried ‘Wolf’”) and two lesser-known ones (“The Dog and the Bone” and “The Wolf and his Shadow”).

Bethel education students will read each fable, which will then be followed by the musical rendition – performed by the Wind Ensemble with narration by a theater student – and an activity that relates to the fable, again with education students leading.

For example, with “The Tortoise and the Hare,” there will be a movement activity and with “The Boy who cried ‘Wolf,’” a mask-making craft. Members of BCWA will provide dog bone-shaped cookies as a snack during “The Dog and the Bone.”

There will also be some input or explanation about the music, Klaassen said.

Doug Siemens, assistant professor of education, and Timothy Shade, assistant professor of music and director of the Wind Ensemble, have been the Bethel faculty working with BCWA on this project.

Klaassen approached him about getting students involved with the event, Siemens said, because Bethel has a class called Teaching the Expressive Arts. Elementary education students in their junior year take most of their methods classes, which include Teaching the Expressive Arts as well as the one Siemens is currently teaching, Reading and Language Arts Methods.

He put the BCWA children’s concert on his class syllabus. In addition to giving his students hands-on experience, participating in the concert is “a service project for the college,” Siemens said. “It will help get children on campus who might not ordinarily come here.”

“Valerie Klaassen came to me last spring and told me the Bethel College Women’s Association wanted to do an interactive concert for children,” Shade said. “I thought it would be good for the [Wind Ensemble] students and the community.

“I knew about the Scott Watson piece,” he continued, and Klaassen loved the idea of using that music. “It’s something different than a generic pop concert or movie music – those have been done,” Shade said.

“BCWA is excited to collaborate with faculty and students to create an entertaining, fun and educational concert for children and families,” Klaassen said. “We hope many folks in the surrounding communities will come enjoy this event.”

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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