Friendship leads to collaborative concert

Three college choirs – Hesston College Bel Canto Singers, Doane College Choir (Crete, Neb.) and McPherson (Kan.) College Choir will present a collaborative concert at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21 at Whitestone Mennonite Church in Hesston. The concert is free and open to the public.

The special concert is part of Doane’s annual tour, and the 50-member choir under the direction of Dr. Kurt Runestad, will be featured for about half of the concert. The Hesston College and McPherson College choirs will perform individually as well, and the concert will conclude with two numbers by the combined singers.

The connection between Hesston College and Doane College stems from the friendship of Runestad and Bradley Kauffman, Bel Canto Singers’ conductor, that began while they were graduate students at the University of Iowa (Iowa City). Dr. Joshua Norris, director of the McPherson College Choir, was a colleague of Runestad’s in Nebraska. Close proximity of Hesston and McPherson made a collaboration between all three college’s possible.

This will not be the first meeting of the Hesston and Doane choirs. A year ago, the Bel Canto Singers visited the Doane campus while on tour where they enjoyed an exchange with Runestad’s choir.
While no explicit theme can be named for the concert, Kauffman notes the bond of friendship present.

“Implicitly, for me, it is about friendship and the power of music to connect people and forge friendship,” said Kauffman. “I look forward to offering a warm Hesston welcome to both of these great choirs.”