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Bethel wraps up 125th celebration with music from Creation to Broadway

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s annual Masterworks program will be the final special event in a year celebrating the college’s 125th anniversary.

The concert is Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus and will feature a presentation of Haydn’s The Creation with the Bethel Oratorio Chorus, the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra and alumni soloists, along with a special performance by alumna Rachel de Benedet.

Ticket prices range from $12-$5, general admission. Tickets are available in the Bethel College Bookstore during regular business hours, or at the door.

Franz Joseph Haydn wrote The Creation (Die Schöpfung), which many consider his masterpiece, between 1796-98. The oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the world, with the text based on the biblical books of Genesis and Psalms, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

The Creation is scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists – singing the parts of the archangels Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael – chorus and symphonic orchestra, and is structured in three parts.

Soloists for the Bethel Masterworks Creation are Soyoun Chun, assistant professor of voice, soprano, and alumni Arthur W. Marks, tenor, and Doyle Preheim, bass.

The Bethel Oratorio Chorus is made up of members of the Bethel College Concert Choir, Men’s Ensemble and Women’s Chorus and the Newton Community Chorus.

Conductors are Bethel music faculty members William Eash (chorus) and Timothy Shade (orchestra).

The first part of the Masterworks program will be Parts I and II of The Creation. In the second half, Rachel Kasper Fitzsimons (whose stage name is Rachel de Benedet) and Marks will perform “selections from Broadway” – Nine, The Light in the Piazza and Sunday in the Park with George.

John McCabe-Juhnke, Bethel professor of communication arts, and Annette Thornton, director of music theater at Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, will perform one of the selections from Sunday in the Park with George in speaking roles.

Rachel de Benedet, a 1988 Bethel graduate, has spent the past 15 years in musical theater on and off Broadway. She appeared in Catch Me if You Can (for which she received an Astaire Award nomination), The Addams Family (“Morticia,” opposite Nathan Lane), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (with John Lithgow), Nine (with Antonio Banderas and Chita Rivera) and The Sound of Music, all on Broadway.

She has also received a number of awards and award nominations for her work in touring productions and regional theater, including Adrift in Macao, for which she won the Barrymore Award for Best Actress for the original Philadelphia Theatre Company production. Her current favorite role is as mom to William, almost 11 months, in New York City.

Arthur W. Marks, Jamaica, N.Y., graduated from Bethel in 1993. He has been performing since 1992 with symphony orchestras and in classical and music theater venues across Europe and the United States. He was the featured soloist for two world premiere pieces by the prolific gospel and spiritual composer M. Roger Holland II at several landmark venues in New York City, including St. Patrick's Cathedral. He recently made two recordings for GIA Publications, Inc., featuring lectionary psalms (The Revised Grail Psalms).

Marks is the voice of “Ugly Duckling” in HONK!, which is preserved on the first American cast recording, and had the pleasure of being the opening act for the late, great Ray Charles. He performed alongside actress Ellen Page, daytime talk show host Wendy Williams and Law and Order SVU actress Tamara Tunie in a benefit for the Hoboken (N.J.) Homeless Shelter. He is a proud member of Actors Equity Association.

Doyle Preheim, Santa Fe, N.M., a 1963 Bethel graduate, is professor emeritus of music at Goshen (Ind.) College, where he taught for 30 years before retiring in 2003. He has been widely heard as a bass soloist in oratorio roles and has presented solo recitals, with his wife, Mary Jo Preheim, as pianist, in venues in the Midwest and in Canada.

In May 2004, Preheim became director of the Sangre de Cristo Chorale, a Santa Fe-area community choir that he led for eight years, retiring in 2012. He continues to run an active voice studio at his home.

Tickets for the Masterworks concert are $12 adults, $10 students, $6 high school students and $5 Bethel faculty, staff and students. They are on sale at the bookstore in Schultz Student Center on the Bethel College campus, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (phone 316-284-5205, e-mail bookstore@bethelksedu), or at the door.

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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