Adult Choral Festival Conductor
for 2016 & 2018
Artistic Director and Choral Conductor
Wichita Chamber Chorale
Apparently Mark Bartel has been singing solos since toddlerhood when he shouted “Hallelujah” in the famous rest at the end of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus during a church service in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Much later in life he learned that he was on solid theological ground, as the word “Hallelujah” means “praise shout to Jahweh” in Hebrew. His singing family of Russian/German-Canadian Mennonite Brethren extraction in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario nurtured a love for music of many kinds, but especially the joy of voices coming together in harmony in gospel songs and hymns.
He was first drawn into a wider world of sacred music by attending the little Anglican church behind the farm where he grew up. The Mennonite choral center of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and what is now Canadian Mennonite University solidified his vocation. Influences ranged from his cherished college professors (Drs. William Baerg, John Martens and George Wiebe among others) to visiting conductors like Robert Shaw and Helmuth Rilling, to attending the 1990 Mennonite World Conference in Winnipeg. In several increasingly longer-lived forays into the United States for education and employment he waded deeper and wider into other pools of North American Mennonitism, not to mention opportunities for service in Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian and Roman Catholic churches.
Mark is the Director of Choral Music at Friends University in Wichita, KS where he conducts the Singing Quakers and leads a program of five choirs. He is also the Artistic Director of the Wichita Chamber Chorale. His primary work in heading college choral programs has been enriched by solo vocal performance, orchestral conducting, children’s choir leadership, and teaching in the fields of conducting, voice, worship and music and music history. In addition to Canadian Mennonite University, he has studied at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester New York where he earned his doctorate in conducting. He and his wife Patty Neufeldt and their son Julian enjoy being a part of Hope Mennonite Church in Wichita, KS.
Whether on choir tour to Costa Rica with the Singing Quakers, conducting an All-State Choir, or leading singing down the road at his home church, he loves nothing better than nurturing the authentic voice and spirit of people gathered in song. May the praise shouts continue.