Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bethany Christian vocal music teacher becomes Michiana Men’s Choir director

Choir performs annually at Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale to help raise funds for the Mennonite Central Committee.

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 12, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.

GOSHEN — Nathan Swartzendruber has been selected as the new director for Michiana Men’s Choir.

The choir performs annually at the Michiana Mennonite Relief Sale to help raise funds for the Mennonite Central Committee. Swartzendruber is a graduate of Goshen College (‘09) and has taught vocal music and directed choirs at Bethany Christian Schools since fall 2010. He and his wife, Grace, attend Sunnyside Mennonite Church.

Swartzendruber is just the second director in the 16-year history of the choir. Darrel Hostetler, who also taught music (and Bible) at Bethany 1967-75 and again in 1985-86, served as director for the first 15 years.

In addition to Hostetler, the late John R. Smucker, former chair of the Relief Sale Choir Committee, was influential in starting and providing leadership to the choir in its early years. Though the choir has ranged in size from about 35 to 60 singers and seen singers come and go, a strong core of singers has provided a consistent balance of voices to build upon each year.

While the choir has always included singers from young to old, Hostetler hopes that Swartzendruber will be able to encourage a new generation of singers to participate.

Swartzendruber shares that vision.

“I’m excited to step outside school walls and tap into the voices of the larger community,” said Swartzendruber. “I hope to encourage growth in the choir and facilitate a better connection with singers from Bethany and Goshen College, as well as other regional men’s choirs (e.g. Ohio and Kansas men’s choirs). Men’s choir singing is a unique and impacting experience that I hope to continue fostering in our community.”

In addition to performing on Friday night at the Relief Sale, the choir has traditionally performed on Sunday as well. In the early years this concert was held at Clinton Frame or Yellow Creek Mennonite churches, but has been held at Sauder Concert Hall since the building of the Goshen College Music Center.

This year the choir will perform at the Relief Sale on Friday, Sept. 27, and then on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Goshen College’s Sauder Concert Hall. Both concerts are at 7 p.m. with proceeds benefiting the work of Mennonite Central Committee.

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