NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The men’s a cappella group at Bethel College, Open Road, will give their traditional end-of-year concert this weekend.
While the group sings at local churches throughout the year, this is Open Road’s one full-length concert annually. It will be May 14 at 7 p.m. in Memorial Hall, and is free and open to the public.
Members are Matt Graber, Freeman, South Dakota, Chase Stucky, Moundridge, Tyler Shima, Topeka, Austin Regier, Newton, Randall Schmidt, Lawrence, Nick Preheim, Peabody, Alec Loganbill, Hesston, Nate Kroeker, Augusta, and Dominick Geddert, Fresno, California.
Graber and Stucky, the two seniors, have both been part of the group throughout their four years at Bethel.
They are uniform in their belief that one of the most rewarding aspects is the friendships that have grown through the years.
“What I like the most about Open Road,” Graber says, “is the close relationships that have formed from it, and then seeing how those relationships affect the group.
“Every year there has been a very different group dynamic, depending on the types of personalities in it.”
Stucky echoes that sentiment. “There is definitely a special kind of bond that gets formed between group members that is hard to reproduce outside it,” he said.
Open Road has been working hard to prepare for the concert. They practice twice a week, often late into the night since group members’ busy schedules leave few other options.
All sing in the Bethel College Concert Choir and most play with one or more Bethel instrumental groups, in addition to class work, student government, sports and other responsibilities.
Practice sessions often mean more than just working on perfecting songs. Graber believes that they can serve as a kind of therapy.
“Even though even though rehearsals were sometimes a burden because they were so late in the day,” he says, “they always put me in a better mood.”
Stucky views rehearsals as “a sacred time” for group members to grow closer together.
“My favorite part of Open Road has been the rehearsals we have twice a week. It’s a phenomenal time where you can make beautiful music with some great guys. We laugh, joke and enjoy each other’s company.”
Open Road has been a long-standing tradition at Bethel, one that both Stucky and Graber feel blessed to have been a part of.
Stucky considers himself lucky to have helped contribute to something that has had and will have a lasting positive impact on so many young men.
“I will not have many future opportunities to be in a group like this,” he says. “I am happy that [other] Bethel College students will have the same opportunity as I did during my college career.”
Open Road’s May 14 program will include a mix of sacred and secular numbers, such as “View that Holy City,” arranged by Keith Lancaster; “Danny Boy,” arranged by Jameson Marvin; “We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace,” arranged by Ronald Burrichter; “Seeing Nellie Home,” arranged by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker; “Deep River,” arranged by H. T. Burleigh; “MLK,” arranged by Bob Chilcott; “Earth Song” by Frank Ticheli; and “Mennonite Game” by Bethel graduate Andy Shelly of Lenexa.