Fine Arts

Chopin would be proud

Friday, February 19th, 2010
Lydia Short, a senior music and math major from Kalona, Iowa.

Lydia Short, a senior music and math major from Kalona, Iowa.

Summer usually affords students and teachers the opportunity to take a break from one another. But the Goshen College Piano Workshop and Academy – begun in the late 1960s by piano faculty Kathryn Summers Sherer ’54 and John O’Brien – is a unique opportunity for piano teachers and students from across the nation to focus for a “four-day musical extravaganza” to learn new playing and teaching techniques in lectures and master classes, perform recitals and listen to nightly concerts.

In contrast to other available pedagogical workshops, “it is unique in that teachers and students are both involved,” said Professor of Music Matthew Hill, one of the organizers, “and this fosters a week-long event of communal learning and appreciation of the art of piano teaching and performance.”

Like other camps, students and teachers reconnect with friends from past years and make new friends. “By the end of the week a healthy sense of community is fostered among all participants, highlighting everyone’s gratitude for the gift of music,” Hill said.

Lydia Short (below, left), a senior music and math major from Kalona, Iowa, participated in the program several years while she was in high school. She came with her piano teacher Susan See, who recommended it. “You get to hang out with people who have a similar interest,” she said.

The program – which is held every other year – is for 13-18 year olds, and is open to students at varying levels. “Some students attend playing delightful shorter pieces by Burgmuller and Bartók, and others come in playing Chopin tudes and Beethoven Sonatas,” Hill said.

Short appreciated learning new techniques in the daily workshops, attending professional concerts and having other teachers during the week giving her a different perspective on her abilities. The practice has paid off. She now teaches piano through the Community School of the Arts and will perform a piano solo in the college’s Concerto-Aria Concert in February.

Piano teachers also find the week to be invigorating. “We hear repeatedly from the piano teachers in attendance how important they find the opportunity to troubleshoot and share ideas with others in the same profession,” said Associate Professor of Music Beverly Lapp ’91, an organizer for the event. “Over the years that has brought a lot of well-known names in the piano world to our campus and also established a strong association with piano training and Goshen College.”

This summer another group of 45-60 teachers and 20-30 students will be on campus for the 36th workshop. For more information about the 2010 Piano Workshop and Academy, from June 20 to 24, visit

– By Jodi H. Beyeler

Thanks for 138 years of service!

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Left to right: Fern Brunner, Vic Koop, Carl Helrich, Ron Milne and Judy Wenig-Horswell

Left to right: Fern Brunner, Vic Koop, Carl Helrich, Ron Milne and Judy Wenig-Horswell

These five teaching faculty members together represent 138 years of dedicated service to the mission and the students of Goshen College:

Fern Brunner ’62 is retiring as associate professor of nursing. She has taught courses in psychiatric/mental health nursing, nursing leadership and introduction to professional nursing, and has been instrumental in shaping curriculum. Brunner joined the faculty in 1989 and served the campus community for 20 years. Send her a note at:

Carl Helrich is retiring as professor of physics. He has taught courses such as physical world, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, classical field theory and senior seminar. Helrich has also led in creating two ongoing programs: the Maple Scholars summer research program and the annual Religion and Science conference. He joined the faculty in 1985, led an SST unit in Germany and served the campus community for 24 years. Send him a note at:

Vic Koop is retiring as professor of psychology. He has taught courses such as general psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, personality theory and contemporary viewpoints. Koop joined the faculty in 1982 and served the campus community for 27 years. Send him a note at:

Ron Milne ’67 is retiring as professor of mathematics. He and his wife Reference and Instruction Librarian Sally Jo – who is also retiring after 25 years of service to the college – have led SST units in Haiti, Ivory Coast and Indonesia, and will lead one to Senegal in 2010. Milne has taught courses throughout the mathematics curriculum with a focus on students who would become elementary teachers and secondary teachers of mathematics. He was involved in the introduction of computers into the mathematics curriculum in the 1990s. Milne joined the faculty in 1976 and served the campus community for 33 years. Send him a note at:

Judy Wenig-Horswell is retiring as associate professor of art. She has taught courses in jewelry-making, drawing, design, humanities and art history, and has helped lead Arts in London for many years. She created the presidential medal worn by Goshen College presidents on special ceremonial occasions. Wenig-Horswell joined the faculty in 1975 and served the campus community for 34 years. Send her a note at:

Plays about historic saints honor the memory of former student

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Last fall, Goshen College student Deanne Binde performed as the lead in the college’s fall mainstage play, “Step on a Crack.” This fall, her very good friend Angie Noah performed as Binde in the fall mainstage play.

After Binde’s life was cut tragically short in May 2008 when she died in a car crash while driving home to Minnesota, her death touched off a reaction that culminated in the world premiere of a play written especially for her.

“The Saint Plays” by Erik Ehn are a series of short plays that link saints from the past with ordinary people, and six of them were performed by the Goshen College Theater Department Oct. 31-Nov. 9.

Exploring the connectedness between historical saints, contemporary life, earthly existence, spirit and eternity, “The Saint Plays” were about Joan of Arc, John the Baptist, St. Eulalia and St. George who fought a dragon. In addition, Ehn wrote a special piece about St. Rose of Viterbo, one of the two saints that mark Binde’s birthdate.

Binde, a junior Roman Catholic student, touched the lives of many people on campus during her years as a communication and theater major. After her death, Milne, who had taught and directed Binde, decided to stage “The Saint Plays,” by Ehn, a Catholic award-winning, internationally-renowned playwright who has previously explored theatrical responses to the genocide in Rwanda and works to promote peace building through the arts.

Though Ehn, dean of the theater program at the California Institute of the Arts, did not know Binde and hadn’t written a play about the saint connected with Binde’s birthdate, he quickly offered to write a piece about Rose of Viterbo and Binde’s life when Milne contacted him. In the play, Ehn included stories about Binde and quotes by her.

While honoring Binde through theater, her former director and fellow cast mates found new challenges. “Working on this play written for Deanne has been difficult. How do you cast for a play about someone you know, with people who were her friends?” said Milne. “I think Deanne would have loved this play and this process though. And without her and her spirit, this wouldn’t have been possible. There are many times when we are on the stage working and I can feel and know that Deanne is still here with us.”

The way that this production came together is quite different than other mainstage productions at Goshen College. “We worked in an incredibly ensemble-based way, with the students all pulling double or even triple duty,” said Milne. “This approach resonates with our liberal arts background, as it asks students to work in teams to design the set or create movement or even choose which specific short plays we will do. They worked between disciplines and their work has been incredible.”

– By Jodi H. Beyeler