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Wind Ensemble sets sail in new direction under new leadership

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Bethel College Wind Ensemble introduces its new director in the first concert of the school year.

Adam Fontana, who began this summer as Bethel’s director of instrumental music, will make his Bethel conducting debut when he leads the group Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. in Memorial Hall on the Bethel campus.

When Chris David Westover announced his departure after three years this past spring semester, the Bethel music department began the search for a new band director.

Adam Fontana has filled that void and has already become a presence on campus.

“What really appealed to me was the community,” Fontana said. “Everyone here seemed bright, warm and welcoming. That was one of the big reasons I decided to come here. Everyone at Bethel has a kindness about them – it’s hard not to notice that.”

Coming in, Fontana said he knew about the rich history of the music department at Bethel and recognized the responsibility of the position he now holds.

“I know the Bethel Wind Ensemble has done some great things in the past, and the community here is second to none,” Fontana said. “When I interviewed here, one of the things that attracted me to Bethel was the students. Listening to them after class, talking about music, was absolutely fantastic.”

Fontana had only complimentary things to say about the students and their work ethic coming into the new school year.

“They are very receptive and responsive to everything we are trying to do, and have been making great music at a high level.”

Wind Ensemble veteran in Billie Selichnow, Wichita, a junior trombonist and euphonium player, said, “Dr. Fontana is very organized and efficient. He works to the nail to make sure we get to where we need to be.

“He’s also very personable. He had meetings with all of us at the beginning of the year to just [find out] who we were and get to know us.

“Dr. Fontana is very efficient when running a rehearsal. It makes us feel much more professional,” Selichnow added. “He’s made it clear that we need to be there, but also be aware of what’s going on in order to realize our full potential as a group.”

“I think these students are ready and talented enough to put on a great first performance” Fontana said. “I’m sure the Bethel community will embrace this concert and this direction with open arms. I’m looking forward to presenting this to them.”

The Wind Ensemble’s Sept. 25 program ranges from the 16th to the 21st centuries – from selections from The Danserye (1551, arr. 2002) by Tielman Susato, arranged by Patrick Dunnigan, to Scenes from the Louvre (1964/1966) by Norman Dello Joio (d. 2008). Also on the program is First Suite in E-flat for Military Band, Op. 28, No. 1 (1909) by Gustav Holst.

The concert is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support music study and performance at Bethel.

The Sept. 25 concert is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support music study and performance at Bethel.

Wind ensemble personnel are: flute, Matthew Lind, Harrisonburg, Virginia, Jesus Martinez, Newton, and Mackenzie Young, Peabody; oboe, Austin Coulter, Pretty Prairie; clarinet, Sarah Balzer, Inman, Juliana Drouhard, Hesston, Julia Ferguson, Sterling, Shannon Neifert, Pratt, Ben Wiens, Goessel, and Sarah Turner, North Newton; bass clarinet, Paige Cooper, Hutchinson, and Reece Hiebert, Walton; saxophone, Westen Gesell, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Ryan Fritz, Salina, Aaron Long, Wichita, Zane Richter, McPherson, and Tara Schwartz, Pretty Prairie; horn, Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, and Anna Wiens, Goessel; trumpet, Connor Born, North Newton, Evan Koch, North Newton, Alec Loganbill, Hesston, Adrian Rogers, Newton, and community member Arlin Buller; trombone, Ben Abel, Paola, Nate Kroeker, Augusta, Seth Larson, Wichita, Billie Selichnow, Wichita, and Andrew Thiesen, Newton; euphonium, Brendan Ostlund, Mount Hope, and Nicholas Preheim, Peabody; bass, Elijah Brockway, McPherson; and percussion, Shawn Bontrager, North Newton.

Fontana graduated in May 2016 with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. He holds additional degrees in music education and conducting from The Hartt School, Columbia University Teacher’s College and SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

At UMKC, Fontana managed the Conservatory Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble, assisted with instruction of undergraduate conducting courses, and taught undergraduate woodwind methods. He also served as the Conducting Fellow for the Youth Symphony of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra for three seasons.

Fontana was the conductor and founder of the Hudson Valley Chamber Winds (HVCW), a professional ensemble based in New York’s Hudson River Valley. He has nine years of public school music teaching experience in New York and Connecticut.

As a clarinetist, Fontana is a three-time performer in Carnegie Hall, with the Juilliard Orchestra (under the direction of Marin Alsop), the Hartt Wind Ensemble and the National Collegiate Wind Ensemble. He also appears as a clarinetist on the Hartt Wind Ensemble’s Naxos recordings, Raw Earth and Dragon Rhyme.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2016–17 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to

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