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GBHS to hold annual vespers concert
new deh vespers pic
Erin Sullivan, Abbey Reigel and Allie Niederee, Great Bend High School members of the A Cappella Choir, rehearse last week for the Vespers Concert set for 2 p.m. today at the GBHS auditorium. The concert has a 74-year tradition at the high school. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

If you want to attend:

The 74th-annual Great Bend High School Vespers Concert set for 2 p.m. today at the GBHS auditorium. Following the concert, the Great Bend Youth Choir will perform at 3:30 p.m.

The sounds of the season will be carried by Great Bend High School A Cappella Choir members as they present the 74th-annual Vespers Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at the high school auditorium.

Susan Stambaugh, USD 428 vocal music teacher and choir director, said the concert is a longstanding tradition in this community. The first time the GBHS A Cappella choir sang in public was at the Vespers Concert in 1936 and the community has made it a well-attended – even standing-room-only – event ever since.

While Stambaugh stresses tradition and the educational value of singing music originally commissioned for the early church, some of her students have a deeper connection to the music.

"This concert is what has defined this choir for 74 years," said David Simmons, senior. "This is what has made our group so well known. Many schools are not allowed to perform this kind of music.

"God has blessed us by allowing us to continue this very important concert," Simmons said. "It brings the choir together on a mature level. We all want this to go well so that we can praise God.

"We can feel God’s presence when we sing. He keeps us focused," he continued. "We appreciate being able to use the gifts God has given us."

"It brings out the whole community in a show of religious unity," added Dakota Zecha, senior.

Katie Heeke, senior, agreed.

"It’s a time when we all come together to celebrate the birth of Christ," she said.

Stambaugh knows how much the concert means to her students. One year, the event was actually cancelled because of bad weather and there were no other Sunday afternoons before Christmas to postpone it to.

The students insisted that they be allowed to perform and did so at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night to a capacity crowd. That was the only night that the Vespers Concert lived up to its name – evening prayer service.

"This concert is about keeping alive a tradition that has been so important to so many in the community," Stambaugh said, noting that the performance is totally voluntary for the choir members.

Following the concert at 3:30 p.m., the Great Bend Youth Choir will perform. Fourth through eighth graders from the community auditioned to sing in the choir. It is jointly directed by all of the USD 428 music teachers.