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Vocal groups to fill Sunday afternoon air with singing

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by Erin Bradley

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Men’s Ensemble starts an afternoon and evening of music at Bethel College Nov. 4, to be followed by the Bethel College Women’s Chorus.

The men sing at 2 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel and the women at 4 p.m. in the sanctuary of Bethel College Mennonite Church (2600 College Avenue, North Newton). Both concerts are free and open to the public.

The final musical event of the day is a concert by the Bethel College Wind Ensemble at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center.

William Eash, professor of music and director of both vocal ensembles, says these two groups are meant to offer a space on campus for students who want to sing.

“My intent here is completely different from what the Concert Choir is,” Eash said. “With the Men’s Ensemble, my intent is to provide a singing experience for every male on campus who wants one.

Eash does not normally require auditions for either the Men’s Ensemble or Women’s Chorus. “If they have an interest in singing and they want to sing,” he said, “then they will have a space in the Men’s Chorus. I do the same thing with the Women’s Chorus.”

He does this, he said, because he knows that there is a wide range of gifts and abilities on campus, and many reasons student want to be part of a vocal group.

“We have a wide variety of singing ability in the [Men’s Ensemble] – from guys who have never sung before to guys who [sing but] don’t do music [at Bethel] to guys who have done a lot of singing in both high school and college,” Eash said. “And I always have individuals who want to sing but don’t have [a lot of] time. So the idea here is to provide a good learning environment for anyone who wishes to sing – to help make their voice better and to have a sense of community and a common goal.”

The men will sing several spirituals, some sailor songs, a gospel quartet and some Gregorian chant. The women’s program will include pieces they are preparing for their appearance at the Kansas Music Educators Association conference in Wichita early next year.

“Our Nov. 4 concert will be filled with pieces we are still [considering] for KMEA,” Eash said. “There is a variety of different things we are looking at. Right now, I think I have settled on a trilogy by Gwyneth Walker, who’s a great female composer.”

The Nov. 4 program will include the three Walker compositions that, Eash said, “talk about being strong women, and coming to understand oneself.”

He added, “We are going to do a couple of love songs, a piece for opera chorus and a spiritual or two.” The program will also include several individual vocal and instrumental numbers by members of the Women’s Chorus.

One piece Eash said he is particularly excited about is “Ici-bas!” by Gabriel Fauré. Miriam Weaverdyck, senior from Ann Arbor, Mich., is fluent in French and has been giving the Women’s Chorus lessons weekly to prepare for singing the piece.

The change in location for this fall’s Women’s Chorus concert from the Ad Building chapel to Bethel College Mennonite Church reflects the continued growth of the choir over the past few years, which has led to standing room only at their last two concerts.

“I think women [singers on campus] have seen the music growth,” Eash said, “and the growth of the ensemble – and they have heard it. They’ve heard good vibes about this group and have decided they want to be a part of it as well.

“I don’t know whether that’s accurate or not –all I know is I now have 45, last year I had 41, the year before that I had something like 35 and before that 25.”

Members of the Bethel College Men’s Ensemble are: Daniel Barrera, junior from Newton, Leland Brown, sophomore from Galveston, Texas, Will Chao, sophomore from Taichung City, Taiwan, Edward Davila, senior from San Antonio, Texas, Brenan Erb, freshman from Henderson, Neb., Tevin Freel, junior from The Woodlands, Texas, Chaz Graber, sophomore from Topeka, Pedro Herrada, freshman from Wichita, Nik Krahn, junior from Mountain Lake, Minn., Luke Loganbill, sophomore from Moundridge, Jared Regehr, junior from Halstead, John Regier, senior from Beatrice, Neb., Kyle Riesen, freshman from Beatrice, Neb., Aaron Rudeen, senior from Osage City, Dalton Smith, junior from Burrton, Hank Unruh, junior from Newton, and Peter Voth, freshman from Newton.

Members of the Bethel College Women’s Chorus are: Brianna Bates, sophomore from Waco, Texas, Brittany  Bates, sophomore from Waco, Texas, Abigail Bechtel, freshman from Henderson, Neb., Lindsey Brazil, freshman from Hillsboro, Jinwan Dai, senior from Tianjin, China, Shianne Defreese, freshman from Goessel, Makayla  Epp, freshman from Marion, S.D., Lisa Goering, freshman from Lawrence, Nicole Goertzen, freshman from Newton, Emily Harder, junior from Newton, Tara Harms-Becker, sophomore from Hesston, April Harpe, junior from Memphis, Tenn., Kaitlin Heller, junior from Lawrence, Katrina  Horner, freshman from La Junta, Colo., Samantha Jarvis, freshman from Newton, Shelby Johnson, freshman from Derby, Jennifer Kaufman, freshman from Moundridge, Kathryn Kelmann, freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, Karina  Ortman, sophomore from Marion, S.D., Mika  Patron, freshman from North Newton, Kaitlyn  Preheim, junior from Peabody, Melinda Regehr, sophomore from Whitewater, Erin Regier, freshman from Newton, Allison Rudeen, sophomore from Osage City, Abigail Schrag, freshman from Newton, Elizabeth Schrag, freshman from Newton, Jill Siebert, freshman from Topeka,  Miranda  Snyder, sophomore from Moundridge, Leah Towle, freshman from Lawrence, Jaime Tschetter, freshman from Freeman, S.D., Michelle  Unruh, sophomore from Newton, Madelyn Weaver, sophomore from Hesston, Miranda  Weaver, senior from Hesston, Amy  Wedel, freshman from Peabody, Shelby Wilson, sophomore from Halstead, Allison Yoder, senior from Kalona, Javen Zellner, freshman from North Newton, Sarah  Evans, junior from Colorado Springs, Colo., and Ariel Silva, junior from Colorado Springs, Colo.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 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


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