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Woven takes on new musical challenges for end-of-year concert

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by Erin Bradley

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The women’s a cappella group at Bethel College, Woven, will give its annual “last concert of the year” with a twist.

The eight-woman group performs May 11 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall, free and open to the public.

“We have been trying to get more diversity in our selections,” said Allison Yoder, senior from Kalona, Iowa.  “When we first started out [three years ago], it was easy to find pretty standard classical numbers or stereotypical women’s chorus pieces. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but a lot of them have to do with love, and just flowery content, and we wanted to avoid that.”

As a result, Woven has added some more challenging music to its repertoire – for example, a piece from Lesotho, sung in the native Sotho language.

They have also created some of their own music by arranging traditional hymns and pop culture-influenced numbers.

“We went to see Pitch Perfect together,” said Yoder, “because we were like, ‘This is about a women’s a cappella group!’ Afterwards, [we began thinking] we should mix our own stuff.”

A little research turned up music to F.U.N.’s “Some Nights.”

“Miriam [Weaverdyck] found the music for ‘Some Nights’ and we said, ‘What if we make our own mash-up?’” Yoder recalled. “One of us started singing [David Guetta’s] ‘Titanium,’ then threw in the beginning of ‘Some Nights.’ We were like, ‘Oh gosh, that works.’

“That’s the one that will be most exciting for the audience, because they’ll know it even if they don’t know choral music, or a lot about music. I think it will be fun for them.”

In addition to their arrangement of “Some Nights,” Woven’s May 11 program will include “Set Me As a Seal” by Rene Clausen, “Sicut Cervus” by Palestrina, “As I went down to the river,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Beautiful Dawn” by The Wailin’ Jennys, among others.

Along with putting together the program for the end-of-year concert, Woven has been busy preparing for other performances, including a Bethel chapel appearance and several other events, while juggling end-of-the-year schedules.

Woven includes five seniors. In addition to Yoder, there are Maggie Goering, Hutchinson, Renee Reimer, Sioux Falls, S.D., Megan Siebert, Topeka, and Miriam Weaverdyck, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Woven’s other three members are junior Ariel Silva, Colorado Springs, Colo., and sophomores Karina Ortman, Marion, S.D., and Michelle Unruh, Goessel.

“As one of the founding members, it is kind of weird to look back and think of how we started and how much work it took from everyone to make Woven into what it is now,” Yoder said. “It took a lot of dedication and time, and it’s all been really fun. It’s been a great learning experience.

“I think we all learned how much goes into running a group,” she continued. “It has been challenging at times, but we have gotten good at being pretty businesslike. But there is still so much love in the group and I think that’s the main thing that keeps it going – we all are there because we love to sing so much and we want the music to be good so we work really hard .

“The bonding and the relationships that come from working with all these people is probably the most memorable part of Woven,” Yoder concluded. “The music has been fun, and the performing has been great. I’m really glad we finally got an established women’s a cappella student-led group on campus, having that equalizer with [men’s a cappella group] Open Road.”

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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