Concert choir sings lullabies to owlets
CLAIRA JANSSEN Staff Writer
Spring brings all sorts of new life. Trees are budding, flowers bloom and baby animals begin exploring their world. About 17 miles north east from Newton a pair of Great Horned Owls named Bonnie and Clyde hatched a pair of owlets in a nest that they boldly hijacked from a pair of Bald Eagles. Little did these owls know, they decided to make their home on the land of Derek Klingenberg, famously known as Farmer Derek. Klingenberg has been documenting the lives of these owls since the heist that earned them the giant nest once belonging to the Bald Eagles.
Klingenberg is known for his creative and wild ideas. One may remember two years ago when he invited the Bethel College Concert Choir out to his farm to sing in a grain bin that had been recently built. The acoustics in an empty grain bin made for a performance that is sure to continue giving audiences goosebumps. The choir’s performance was posted on Klingenberg’s youtube channel in September of 2018. Since then, the video in the grain bin gathered over 2.2 million views. People loved the content and were left in awe.
When the opportunity came to have the Concert Choir back out on the Klingenberg farm, Klingenberg acted quickly. While there was not a grain bin that wasn’t already occupied by grain, there was however, a pair of owlets that needed to be sung a few lullabies. Additionally, Klingeberg constructed a hay bale amphitheater of sorts for the Concert Choir to sing in front of in lieu of a grain bin. Farmer Derek quickly contacted William Eash, director of choral ensembles, and the two began brainstorming. Once a date was set, the choir began to prepare for their performance to their special audience of owlets, Tiger and Lily.
The Concert Choir sang five songs to the owlets. The evening started off with a piece composed by Susan LaBarr titled “The Wisdom of the Moon.” This piece was followed by two parodies of well known lullabies, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'' and “Lullaby and Goodnight” (also known as “Brahms’ Lullaby”). Eash reached out to members of the choir asking them to create a specialized parody of their own for the owlets. Out of all the submissions, Jessie Thomas, junior from Halstead, had the best interpretation. For her parody of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” she wrote, “Sleeping, Sleeping tiny owls. Rest in fluffy springtime down. In the nest when night begins, Like the sleeping cherubins. Rising, taking to the sky. Little owls in night time fly.”
Once approached about the project, Thomas was very enthused by the opportunity and the process, if not amused.
“I actually wrote the lyrics to "the other lullaby" late at night with a certain kind of... satirical approach. I meant for it to be funny and could hardly keep a straight face when I read my work aloud to my modmates once it was finished. I figured other people in the choir had already sent in better lyrics, so I wasn't expecting Bill to keep them. He did, and apparently likes them a lot. He thought they were great and has been calling me ‘the Bethel College Poet’ or ‘Our Poet Laureate’ and things like that. It's nice to be recognized for creative work, but hearing the entire choir sing ‘in the night you'll be screeching’ and ‘hunting mice and rats and snakes’ in our serious singing voices was so unreal, I almost had to step out of the room because I was laughing so hard!” Thomas said.
Although Jessie meant for her lyrics to be comical, they fit the situation perfectly. She wrote, ”Lullaby, and goodnight, in the night you’ll be screeching. Silently fly, hills and lakes, hunting mice and rats and snakes. When the morning breaks the skies, to your nest you will fly. And you’ll wake in the dark, singing ‘who’ to the stars.”
Following these two parodies, the choir sang “Happy (belated) Birthday” to the owlets. Although it was a few weeks past their birthday, the owlets seemed to enjoy the birthday wishes and remained relatively calm during the livestream. Eash then invited members of the Klingenberg family to sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” with the choir, as is a tradition for audience members and alumni. It just so happened that many of them were all past Bethel College Alumni who sang in the Concert Choir during their time at the college. Some of the younger members of the family even had the opportunity to try their hand at directing the choir during the warm-up.
Klingenberg streamed the performance live on his youtube page. The live performance had people from all across the United States tuning in to watch the Concert Choir lull the owlets to sleep. This performance wasn’t only special to the owlets, but to the parents of choir members who haven’t had the opportunity to hear the choir perform in such a long period of time.
If you want to find out for yourself how the performance went, a recording of the live event can be found on Farmer Derek’s Youtube Channel.