NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Concert Choir has been singing formally and informally in settings ranging from the Dallas airport to the largest brick church in the world (in Gdańsk) to one of the oldest still standing Mennonite church buildings in Europe (also in Gdańsk).
These and other venues have been stops on the choir’s quadrennial European concert tour. Choir members are blogging about the experience on Bethel’s website, at blog.bethelks.edu/.
The choir will give its home concert soon after returning from the tour at the end of this month – Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall. The concert is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken.
The choir’s 2014 tour, from Jan. 3-24, took the group to three countries, for a total of 12 concerts under the direction of William Eash, professor of music.
They performed in Poland (Warsaw and Gdańsk); Germany (Berlin-Frohnau, Leipzig, Schwandorf, Weimar, Bielefeld, Hamburg, Emden, Solingen and Neuwied); and The Netherlands (Groningen).
The choir has been making trips to Europe every four years since the 1950s. The group made its first return to Poland since 1978 four years ago, both then and this year singing in the historic Mennonite church building in Gdańsk (formerly called Danzig), which now houses a Pentecostal congregation.
The choir spent most of its time in Germany. While not singing a concert in Wuppertal, where Bethel College has a historic student exchange going back more than 50 years with the Bergische Universität, the choir did perform in Bielefeld, not far from Wuppertal.
The Bethel College Concert Choir performs a mix of sacred and secular music, including traditional spirituals “This little light of mine,” “Hold on” (both arranged by Moses Hogan) and “Way over in Beulah lan‘” (arranged by Stacey V. Gibbs); several Norman Luboff compositions or arrangements, “All my trials,” “Amazing grace” and “Stranger”; “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen; “Christus est natus” by Damijan Močnik; “There is no Rose of such virtue” and “Ave Maria” by Kevin Memley; “Die Stimme des Kindes” by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi; “Sistah Mary” by Rollo Dilworth; Ludovico da Viadana’s “Mass”; “Kyrie” by Felix Mendelssohn; “O nata lux” by Andrew Steffen; “Selig sind die Toten” by Heinrich Schutz; “Cells Planets” (arranged by Vince Peterson); “Prayer of St. Patrick” by Ross Bernhardt; and “Filled with His voice,” a 2012 commission for the choir by Steve Danyew, in honor of Bethel’s 125th anniversary.
European Concert Choir personnel are: Daniel Barrera, Newton; Leland Brown, Galveston, Texas; Cody Claassen, Whitewater; Erin Engle, Salem, Ore.; Caleb Epp, Freeman, S.D.; Brenan Erb, Henderson, Neb.; Lisa Goering, Lawrence; Matthew Graber, Freeman, S.D.; Emily Harder, Newton; Kathryn Kelman, Ft. Worth, Texas; Riley King, Lawrence; Evan Koch, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Clarie Koehn, Cottonwood Falls; Benjamin Kreider, North Newton; Carl Lehmann, Marion, S.D.; Emily Luedtke, Wichita; Caroline Mayhew, Lawrence; Cristopher Nelson, North Newton; Karina Ortman, Marion, S.D.; Kaitlyn Preheim, Peabody; Erin Regier, Newton; Timothy Regier, Newton; Renee Reimer, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Kyle Riesen, Beatrice, Neb.; Allison Rudeen, Osage City; Casey Schunn, Whitewater; Abby Schrag, Newton; Jill Siebert, Topeka; Megan Siebert, Topeka; Ariel Silva, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Dalton Smith, Moundridge; Micah Smith, Topeka; Nicole Smith, Elkhart, Ind.; Chase Stucky, Moundridge; Taylor Stucky, Moundridge; Leah Towle, Lawrence; Aaron Tschetter, Freeman, S.D.; Braden Unruh, Goessel; Henry Unruh, Newton; Michelle Unruh, Goessel; Andrew Walker, Newton; Madelyn Weaver, Hesston; Amy Wedel, Peabody; and Jocelyn Wilkinson, San Antonio, Texas.