The stage is empty but the voices sing on

By Victoria Cortez – Horizon Staff Writer

With tours to Florida and Nebraska and local performances behind them, the Bel Canto experience is slowly coming to an end for the sophomore class. Many of the sophomores, say they will miss not only being on stage but the relationships they’ve built.

“I have been looking forward to being a part of this group since middle school and I can’t believe it is almost at an end,” said sophomore Rebecca Rhodes.

Sophomore Laura Baker agrees that she will also miss being a part of Bel Canto, and she prefers to focus on the positive: the group’s progress.

“One of the things that I like most about being a part of Bel Canto is looking back on when we first started working on a piece and seeing the progress we made,” said Baker. “I love finally being able to perform a song that we have put so much work into.”

As a group or individually, to sophomore Nathanael Ressler, Bel Canto has made improvements in everyone.

“Bel Canto has made me a significantly better singer and gave me a chance to build relationships that will be life-long,” said Ressler.

Although Ressler, a sophomore, has only been with the choir one year, it doesn’t make the transition any easier.

“The thought of moving on is pretty sad because I am not going to be able to make music with those wonderful people anymore,” he said.

Bel Canto’s end isn’t the end of a music career for most sophomores.

Sophomore Josh Booth will further his education in the performing arts, and will be attending Bethel College (Newton) on a singing scholarship.

“I wanted to be part of a college choir with just as strong a reputation [as Hesston’s] and continue to grow my technique and talent,” said Booth.

Booth attributes a lot of that growth to Bel Canto.

“Stepping foot into my first rehearsal with Bel Canto last year, it knocked me off of my pedestal a little bit,” he said. “I really needed that. Everyone had such amazing voices, and I no longer was seen as the ‘really good kid.’”

Along with Booth, sophomore Jeffery Smoker plans on furthering his education in music by joining the choir at Eastern Mennonite University, but he’ll miss the community of Bel Canto.

“Each choir is unique but the choirs the past two years have been pretty close,” said Smoker “I will always keep on singing, hopefully my next few years at EMU and then on after that.”

With 12 freshmen in the group this year, Booth hopes that they return next year to bring the same dedication to the stage, along with their own originality.

Photo by: Larry Bartel, Hesston College Marketing and Communication
Photo by Larry Bartel, Hesston College Marketing and Communications

“I have seen such progress in the freshmen, and I know next year the group will be even better because they will now have the experience to look back on,” said Booth. “Bradley [Kauffman, director] does a very good job in directing us and making every aspect of the music important. Hesston College is lucky to have him in the music department.”

According to these individuals, Bel Canto isn’t just about the singing, it’s about the experience of singing with others and the privilege to show their talent.

“I love being a part of this group because we all share a connection through music,” said Rhodes.“We all have a passion for singing and I feel that everyone does a great job of showing each other support.”

Bel Canto will have their last performance on Apr. 6 at New Creation Fellowship (Newton), Kauffman’s home congregation.

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