by Erin Bradley
NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A new instrumental group at Bethel College will play its debut concert Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
Assistant Professor of Music Timothy Shade organized the Bethel College Philharmonia Orchestra, a group that combines the Bethel College Chamber Orchestra and some members of the Bethel College Wind Ensemble with community members and professionals to make a larger group.
Tickets are $10 general admission and will be for sale at the door.
“When I decided to do this, it was an effort to give our students a large-group experience,” Shade said, “but at the same time trying to connect with the community.
“We’ve [already] been doing bigger symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra,” Shade continued, “but we actually need more [players for] some of the music both I and the students wanted to do.”
“We did Dvorák’s Ninth Symphony at the end of last year. The students loved that music so much, they said, ‘We want to do more like this.’ So I was trying to find a way to engage all of that.”
To form the larger group, he asked professional musicians on campus and local high school music teachers to recommend students, and recruited some local home-schooled students interested in playing music.
The Philharmonia Orchestra gives high school musicians a chance to experience a larger group setting that fits better with schedules, is more relaxed and cuts down on travel time.
To prepare their pieces for the upcoming concert, the group has met for two hours every Monday evening during the fall semester.
The pieces for the Nov. 19 program are the “Overture” to Dur Frei Schutz by Carl Maria Von Weber, “Danzon No. II” by Arturo Marquez and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.
These pieces comprise “a traditional overture that was [one of the] first real romantic overtures; then sort of a pop-type thing, to change genre and change style; and a major symphony,” Shade said. “I’m really happy with the program. I got lucky – I don’t know how I got those three pieces to work.
“It’s a lot of work. We have a large difference from professionals to high school students. [It’s a challenge to balance] all of that so they feel like they are contributing. At this point, they do, and get the experience of the large sound coming out.”
Community musician Steve Kransin agreed with Shade, saying he enjoys the group for the music and thinks the upcoming concert “goes together well.”
Shade hopes the Nov. 19 concert will help spread word of the group and that more local musicians will hear about it and consider joining.
“We are still recruiting,” Shade said. “It is actually just getting off the ground. The hope was to have a really fun first concert and then have more people interested in [playing in] the spring. It will take a while for people to learn about this group.”
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.