Newton-area alumni who loved singing together as students have found a way to keep doing it post-college.
An alumni choir organized last fall, and has given two concerts, one before Christmas and one in February.
Several recent graduates who share a house and a history with the Bethel College Concert Choir began talking last year about what it would take to form a choir, says Jocelyn Wilkinson ’14, who is now the Bethel College Alumni Choir manager.
The germ of the idea came from William Eash, Concert Choir conductor, while Eash was on sabbatical in Minnesota in 2014.
Bill heard an alumni choir from St. Olaf College perform and realized that he never really gets to sing any more, despite being the head of a choral program, says Wilkinson.
He figured there’s a decent amount of Bethel choir alumni in the area, so he contacted Andrew about the viability of the idea. Things just built from there.
She, Andrew Voth ’13, a music teacher in the Goessel public schools, and Eash have been the main organizers.
Andrew and Bill would talk about the possibilities, Wilkinson says,
and bounce them off me. We had an initial meeting [for interested singers] at Bill’s house. We decided we wanted a group that would sound good but would be fun and require a low time commitment [for rehearsals].
The alumni choir is open to any Bethel alumnus who was part of any choral ensemble while at Bethel. Rehearsals occur once a month except in the week leading up to a concert, when several additional ones are scheduled.
Because of our time constraints, we ask that people be able to read music and have that experience in choral ensembles, Wilkinson says.
We are going with a lot of past Concert Choir repertoire while we get our feet under us.
Between 80 and 100 people came to the choir’s first concert—
a pleasant surprise, Wilkinson says.
The Trinity Heights United Methodist Church space is a good one, she adds. The sanctuary is the right size
to keep us from feeling swallowed up. It has good sound quality as well as feeling more fun and informal.
The choir made the connection to the Newton church through Trinity Heights members Allen Wedel ’69, Bethel vice president for business affairs, and Andrew Walker ’14, who sings in the alumni choir.
Voth is the choir’s director, while Eash is one of the singers. Wilkinson’s position as
manager puts her in charge of communicating to other singers when and where rehearsals are, organizing volunteers to take care of things like set-up and refreshments on concert day, and doing publicity.
That lets Andrew focus on his conducting, she notes.
Wilkinson also developed a Bethel College Alumni Choir Facebook page, which is how much of the communication takes place.
We created a Facebook group and added as many area alumni as we could think of, then asked them to invite others, and it built like that, she says.