NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Anton Bruckner and Ludwig van Beethoven headline the annual Masterworks concert at Bethel College.
The Bethel College Oratorio Chorus and the Bethel College Philharmonia present the overture to Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, his Fantasia for piano, orchestra and chorus, and Te Deum by Bruckner, with vocal soloists, May 8 at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus.
Tickets are $12 adults, $10 students, $6 high school students and $5 Bethel faculty, staff and students. They are on sale at Thresher Shop in Schultz Student Center on the Bethel College campus, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (phone 316-284-5205), or at the door.
Karen Bauman Schlabaugh, professor of music at Bethel, is the featured pianist for the Fantasia. Soloists for the Te Deum are Bethel music faculty Soyoun Chun, soprano, and William Eash, bass, and Bethel alumni Monica Schmidt, Newton, mezzo-soprano, and Nathan Snyder, Greeley, Colorado, tenor.
Chris David Westover, Bethel director of instrumental music, is the music director for the 2016 Masterworks performance.
He picked the Bruckner for the program first, he said, then began looking for something to complement it.
“On Dec. 22, 1808, Beethoven premiered the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Mass in C and the 4th Piano Concerto, in a concert he put on to raise money for himself,” Westover said. “He needed a finale. He composed a fantasy for piano with a chorale [ending] just three days before the concert.”
Given so little rehearsal time, Westover added, the premiere of the Fantasia was not a great success.
“It’s a precursor to the Ninth Symphony, with a similar melody.”
He went on, “Exactly 80 years later, Bruckner premiered his Te Deum. Bruckner was a big fan of Beethoven – all his symphonies begin just like the Ninth.
“The Te Deum is the only one of Bruckner’s pieces that was popularly accepted during his lifetime. It’s a text of praise – then there are lines like ‘We implore God to save us from our sins’ that he focuses on, repeating them. It’s a journey of proclaiming faith and then going deeper into realizing [faith] takes more than just proclamation.”
The second Erwin C. and Verna Kaufman Goering Award will be presented during the mid-point of the concert to Rupert Hohmann of North Newton, a Bethel graduate, former Bethel music professor and professor emeritus of music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Hohmann grew up as a Bethel College “campus kid,” the son of Bethel music professor Walter Hohmann and Elsbeth Hohmann. Rupert Hohmann attended Newton High School for grade nine and then Mennonite Bible Academy. He graduated from Bethel College in 1949.
Hohmann began studying violin as a child and has played throughout his life. He earned a master’s degree in music from Wichita State University and became the first Newtonian to join the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
From 1953-55, Hohmann spent two years in I-W service as a music therapist at the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital. He came back to Bethel in 1957 to teach studio violin and music classes and direct the orchestra.
He was the first at Bethel to conduct an opera or musical (in this case, a production of Smetana’s The Bartered Bride) with orchestral accompaniment rather than piano alone. He continued to play with the WSO and soloed with the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra.
Hohmann earned his doctorate in 1959 from Northwestern University and later did post-doctoral work at Yale University. After teaching at the University of Oklahoma, Eastern New Mexico University and Muskingum College, Hohmann began a 23-year tenure at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1966.
He retired in 1989 and returned to his childhood home in North Newton, where he still lives. At Bethel, he has established and endowed a keyboard scholarship for upper-level students in honor of his parents, a conducting scholarship named for his father, and two string scholarships, all awarded annually.
Until recently, Hohmann continued to play with the NMKSO as well as for Newton Community Theatre productions, in area churches and for other musical functions. On May 6, he will be inducted into the Newton High School Fine Arts Boosters Club Hall of Fame.
In 2014, the family and friends of Verna Kaufman Goering, Moundridge, and the late Erwin C. Goering established a music award, given biennially, that honors a Bethel College alumnus of outstanding character for distinguished achievement and recognition in music.
The awardee may be a professional musician or a volunteer who has served the community; may demonstrate excellence in instrumental music, vocal music and/or conducting; may be a donor whose gifts have substantially strengthened Bethel’s music program. Daniel Hege, music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, received the inaugural Goering Music Award.