The culminating event of the 2011-12 Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series will feature The Rose Ensemble, one of America’s premiere choral groups, for a three-day residency and program titled “Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Christians, Jews and Muslims” at 7:30 p.m. April 27 in the Hesston Mennonite Church sanctuary on the Hesston College campus.


The culminating event of the 2011-12 Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series will feature The Rose Ensemble, one of America’s premiere choral groups, for a three-day residency and program titled “Land of Three Faiths: Voices of Ancient Mediterranean Christians, Jews and Muslims” at 7:30 p.m. April 27 in the Hesston Mennonite Church sanctuary on the Hesston College campus.

Based in St. Paul, Minn., The Rose Ensemble reawakens the ancient through imaginative performances of vocal music with historical instruments and a vocal sound critics have called “supernatural.” Their repertoire spans 1,000 years and 25 languages of vocal music and offers fresh perspectives on history, languages, politics, religion and world cultures and tradition.

“The Rose Ensemble brings music to new life with exquisite musicianship and thoroughly researched historical performance practices,” said HBPA Director Matthew Schloneger.

“Land of Three Faiths” is the result of years of intensive research and training featuring instruments and musical ideas that blur the lines between Arabic and European. It encompasses sacred, secular, folk and classical traditions for an exploration of language, spirituality and cultural exchange of the Abrahamic faiths in the Hispano-Arabic Middle Ages — an important and devastating chapter of Judaic, Christian and Islamic history. The program mingles together laments of the Sephardic Jews, Arab-Andalusian dances, Spanish court songs, Hebrew cantillation, Gregorian chant and Sufi poetry.

“I was able to see The Rose Ensemble perform this program at a sold-out concert in their home city,” said Schloneger. “I was amazed at the beauty and accessibility of the music. We live in a time where the intermingling of different faiths and cultures is such an important aspect of our world. This program gives us a unique insight to a time and place that was not so different from our own.”

The ensemble has produced nine critically acclaimed recordings and was winner of the 2005 Chorus America Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence. The group’s concerts and recordings have been called “first class” (Neuss-Grevenbroicher Zeitung), “impassioned and brightly alive” (Choral Journal) and “engaging… satisfying” (Gramophone). Founder Jordan Sramek received the 2010 Louis Batto Award from Chorus America “for entrepreneurial zeal.”

The Rose Ensemble performs concerts regularly as well as providing educational programs for elementary through college students, libraries and communities.

The Rose Ensemble’s April 25 to 27 HBPA residency will include a free public performance at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Hesston College chapel in the Hesston Mennonite Church sanctuary and a free public choral master class with the Hesston College and Bethel College choirs at noon Wednesday in the Bethel College Administration Building Chapel. They also will give educational performances Thursday at Goessel Elementary School and Northridge and Sunset elementary schools in Newton.

“We are grateful for significant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts which will allow the ensemble to interact with students and members of our community for three full days,” Schloneger said. “Students will be exposed to new cultures and music in a way that is meaningful and memorable, and that’s exciting.”

Single ticket prices for The Rose Ensemble’s April 27 concert range from $15 to $18, depending on seating section, with discounts available to students and senior citizens.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (620) 327-8158 (Hesston College) or 284-5205 (Bethel College), email hbpa@hesston.edu or visit the HBPA website at www.hesston.edu/hbpa.

The program is presented in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art, and the cities of Hesston and North Newton, with generous underwriting by area patrons.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts Series, now in its 30th year, started in 1982 as the Hesston Performing Arts Series (HPA) with funding and planning provided by Hesston College and the Hesston community. In 1998, HPA planners launched a partnership with Bethel College (North Newton) and the name changed to Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts. Hesston College and Bethel College host five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each year.