Graduate students to be featured in final organ series concert

The final concert in the 2016-17 Andover Organ Series at Hesston College will be at 7 p.m., Friday, April 21, at Hesston Mennonite Church on the Hesston College campus.
The program will feature University of Kansas (Lawrence) (KU) graduate students Shayla Van Hal and Bethany Johnson. Van Hal and Johnson are students in the Master of Church Music program at KU. Joining them will be saxophonist Nicholas May, also a graduate student at KU, in a work by contemporary composer Luke Mayernik. The concert is free and open to the public.

A reception and chance for the audience to interact with the performers will follow the concert in the Hesston Mennonite Church Community Center.

Johnson is a second year graduate student, studying organ with Michael Bauer. She will graduate in May. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Parish Music and Theology at Concordia University (Mequon, Wisc.), and studied under the direction of John Behnke. Johnson is an organist at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Topeka, Kan., where she also serves as the music director for the handbell and children’s choirs. She is actively involved with the Topeka AGO chapter, records hymns for Church Music Solutions, and is an organist for Higher Things youth conferences.
Van Hal is a first-year master’s student studying with James Higdon and the organist at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kan. She completed her undergraduate studies at Luther College (Decorah, Iowa), studying organ with Dr. Gregory Peterson and Brad Schultz. Throughout her academic career, Van Hal has served actively as a church musician, chorister, accompanist, conductor and tutor.

May has won or been a finalist in numerous state, national and international competitions. He has appeared as a guest artist and soloist with the Omaha (Neb.) Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln (Neb.) Symphony Orchestra, and performs frequently in regional theatre productions as a woodwind artist. Currently a first-year master’s student, May is a graduate teaching assistant and student of Vince Gnojek. He is a member and founder of the Heartland Duo, which promotes new and under-performed music for two saxophones. May earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying with Paul Haar.

The Andover Organ Series at Hesston College feature organists from across the world, bringing another form of fine art to south central Kansas. The program is made possible through the generosity of The John Ernest Foundation and the STAR Program (Student Artist Recitals) at the University of Kansas, the Division of Organ and Church Music.