Saturday, March 17 & Sunday, March 18th
Hello friends, I hope you’ve all had a good weekend! The Concert Choir sure has been busy touring through Nebraska yesterday and South Dakota today. Our concerts are going well, though I find that it’s always a struggle to maintain one’s energy throughout our entire tour, especially when we have days with more than one concert plus lots of travel. Regardless, we’re all having fun together making good music. I’ve never been to Henderson, Neb. or Freeman, S.D. before, so I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the communities where some of my friends come from.
Going to school close to where I grew up, I have never really had the experience of missing my home and home community very much since I can just go back whenever I want to. Not everyone can do that though, and it’s been nice to see my friends and fellow students get to go home to their families and friends and reconnect. Perhaps someday, when I end up moving far from home, these sorts of reunions will have the same meaning for me. Until then however, I can appreciate the joy my friends experience and maybe make some new friends as well.
I need to get some sleep, so look for more blog posts in the future from other members of the choir.
Our first stop on Choir Tour 2012 was Colorado (my home state)- Denver to be exact. We sang at the beautiful First Mennonite Church. This was a great place to start our week-long adventure, not only because it is in the state I love the most, but because this church was so welcoming and friendly. During the concert, I could just see the attentive and thoughtful expressions on the audience’s faces; they looked as though they understood every feeling we were trying to convey in each song. But of course, my favorite part of the night was getting to see my family and friends. Since coming to Bethel, my family hasn’t had the chance to hear me sing with the choir. They loved our program, and said that the choir was amazing. My best friends also came to see the choir sing. They both were amazed how great we were and one even told me she felt inspired. I am so thankful that all of them came and listened to the Concert Choir. After returning to the hotel and changing, we all split up and walked the 16th Street Mall. This mall is an entire street filled with shops and restaurants and fun activities like a bowling alley or a movie theater. After walking and looking at the beautiful buildings and stores, we ended the night at a restaurant to eat a snack: the best sweet potato fries and chips-and-dip ever. I’d call the first stop of our tour a success and I know the experiences will only get better as the tour progresses.
Today the Concert Choir started off the 2012 tour with a trip to Salina, Kan. to sing for my Grandma, Alice Weltmer, in her retirement home. A few weeks ago when I was looking at the schedule of places that we were going, my Mom and I realized that my Grandma would not be able to make it to any of the concerts. She recently had back surgery and would not do very well with the traveling. I asked Bill and Dale if it would be a possibility to go to her since she could not come to see us. They immediately said that it was a possibility and that they would do whatever they could to make it happen. Not only did my Grandma get to see us perform because of it, but my Mom’s best friend from kindergarten was able to come as well. My Grandma was thrilled that we made the effort to let her see me perform and she really loved our music. When I was hugging her goodbye she was so happy that it almost brought me to tears because I was so glad that we could sing for her. I would like to thank Bill for allowing this, Dale for setting it up, and the retirement home for hosting us. I would also like to thank all the students who came to introduce themselves to my Grandma and talk with her a bit. That was a really sweet gesture and both her and I appreciated it a lot!
Right as I was just starting to get used to my second semester schedule, a flurry of very important distractions began. There is an opera, The Tender Land, being performed on campus next weekend, the spring sports season has begun, and the KMEA convention is going on right now in Wichita.
KMEA, the Kansas Music Educators Association, is an organization that I don’t really know much about except for the fact that it’s on organization of music teachers and they host a convention every year. The convention has all sorts of exhibits and talks for members to attend, but the most public parts of the convention are the honor groups and the performances by Kansas groups. The honor groups are select groups of high school and middle school orchestra, choir, wind ensemble and jazz band students who spend the day with a clinician and then perform what they learned. There are also performances throughout the day from school groups across Kansas.
Bethel is a very, very musical campus. Many students are involved in at least one of the musical groups on campus or, in the case of the music majors, at least 4 groups. There’s the Concert Choir, the premiere mixed choir on campus that tours every year and goes to Europe every 4 years during interterm. For those who don’t want to audition or don’t make it in, there’s the Women’s Chorus and Men’s Ensemble. These two groups have grown substantially in the past few years. There’s even a gospel choir that was started this semester.
Instrumental groups are also quite numerous. Two jazz groups, Jazz Ensembles I and II, regularly hold concerts including at Fall Fest and during the holiday Gala celebration. Jazz Combo, made up of a few members of Jazz I, also performs regularly whether it be on campus or at venues in town.
This year, the theater department is kicking off its season with a farce for Fall Fest called Charley’s Aunt. For those of you who don’t know, a farce is a type of comedy where everything is exaggerated and physical comedy reigns supreme. I won’t bother telling you the plot of the show, but I will tell you all about the making of the production.How am I going to do this, you ask? Easily. I am stage managing the show, meaning I have been involved with the show since auditions and have been at nearly every rehearsal and production meeting, and I can give you the inside scoop. This show, like the Fall Concerts, is an exciting moment for the theatre department because, not only is it the first show of the season, but it is the first time we get to show off new talent in the department as well as see returning talent on the stage. Read More
With the school year in full gear, all of the musical ensembles here on campus are presenting their first concerts of the year. This is a really exciting time for all of the ensembles because it’s the first time we get to show off our new members as well as feature upperclassmen that are stepping up to the plate and leading both sections and the ensembles themselves.The Wind Ensemble, in which I play the oboe, kicked off the concert season with their first concert “From the Stage to the Screen,” which featured both classic wind ensemble repetoire, like Molly on the Shore by Percy Grainger, and famous movie music, like the music John Williams wrote for Harry Potter and Star Wars. It was a fun concert and it even featured the Concert Choir, Bethel’s mixed choir which anyone and everyone can audition for, singing Morten Laurdison’s O Magnum Mysterium. This concert was a lot of fun and the audience was one of the biggest I’ve seen in my short tenure here at Bethel. Read More
You may have heard the word “Masterworks” thrown around during your interactions with Bethel students. So what is Masterworks? Masterworks is a showcase concert that we will be putting on at Bethel on the 8th of May, this Sunday. If you’re interested, it’s still not too late to come. The concert will be held at 4:00 PM in Memorial Hall, and the work to be performed is Schubert’s “Mass in E flat major”. Masterworks is a Bethel tradition that began under the tenure of former Band director Don Kerberg. He decided that it would be a good idea to hold a concert on Mother’s Day as a celebration for the fine job that all of our mothers have done in raising us. From this origin the pieces gradually became more complicated until it evolved into a full two hour production of classical works. Now Masterworks is more than just Bethel; the Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra plays the part of the backing orchestra to the Concert Choir’s stunning vocal lines. In addition, there will be supporting a flue concerto. Read More
It’s coming closer and closer to the end of the year, which means the music department has concerts galore in the next two weeks. The final Wind Ensemble concert was last night, Sunday is the Masterworks Choral concert, next Tuesday is Chamber Orchestra, and next Wednesday is Jazz on the Green.
All of those are looking to be amazing performances, but I’m going to do a plug for the concert that it’s too late to see. I’m actually a member of the Wind Ensemble, but that has nothing to do with how amazed I was at the concert last night. The pieces we played made the concert…just…amazing. There’s not really any other way to put it.
Whew! Having fun is tiring work! The week is nearing a close, and as we travel I continue to be amazed at the beauty around me, both in the landscapes we are surrounded by and the people surrounding me. There are a lot of new members in the choir this year, and we have had a lot of fun as a group, getting to know one another better and laughing a lot. Every day I grow closer to people I have cared about for a long time as well as people I am just beginning to know and care for.
We work hard on our music, and performing concerts every night can be tiring. But the energy for that work often comes from our friendships and community. We lean on each other and learn from each other, bringing our joy to the music we create together. I love to sing no matter where or what or with whom, but to sing beautiful music in gorgeous landscapes with people I love . . . how can I keep from singing?
Naomi Graber: 3-25-2011