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May 2018

Bach Outdoors!

May 18, 2018 @ 12:00 pm
Packer Memorial Church, 18 University Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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The Festival opens outside on Lehigh University’s beautiful campus with unique and upbeat performances by our principal violist Paul Miller and friends. They will play electric violin along with other “modern” instruments to offer original arrangements of some of Bach’s most beloved masterpieces.

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Distinguished Scholar Lecture — Dr. Robin A. Leaver

May 18, 2018 @ 2:00 pm
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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Greg Funfgeld has invited Robin Leaver to give this lecture to celebrate the 120th birthday of The Choir and to honor his esteemed colleague. Dr. Leaver has been The Bach Choir’s eminent concert program annotator throughout Funfgeld’s tenure of 35 years. He is Visiting Professor, Yale University, and Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Emeritus Professor, Westminster Choir College of Rider University.

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Bach at 4

May 18, 2018 @ 4:00 pm
Incarnation of Our Lord Church, 617 Pierce St.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$25

The centerpiece of this concert is Bach’s Cantata 106, Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit (God’s time is the very best time). This gem of a cantata scored for recorders, gambas, and basso continuo was written when Bach was in his early twenties and yet as Nicholas Kenyon wrote “he never surpassed the interior drama of this concentrated piece” and as Jim Gaines wrote of this masterpiece “All of Bach begins here.”

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Chamber Music in the Saal

May 18, 2018 @ 4:00 pm
Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 66 W. Church St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018 United States
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$28

Charlotte Mattax Moersch launched our Chamber Music in the Saal series in 1997 with a performance of Bach’s epic Goldberg Variations, one of the most ambitious works ever written for the harpsichord. She is delighted to revisit this set of variations, unmatched in their scope and ingenuity, for our 120th birthday.

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Dinner Discussion

May 18, 2018 @ 5:45 pm
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$45

Larry Lipkis, Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence at Moravian College.

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Bach at 8

May 18, 2018 @ 8:00 pm
Packer Memorial Church, 18 University Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$22 - $34

The program opens with Cantata 21 Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, one of Bach’s greatest Cantatas. This wonderful musical journey from sorrow and heaviness to joy and light is, for all the members of our Choir, in the top ten Cantatas they love to sing. Festival artist in residence She-e Wu follows with a transcription for marimba of J.S. Bach’s Third Cello Suite in C Major, BWV 1009. The concert closes with Handel’s Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day, in honor of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of music.

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Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert

May 19, 2018 @ 10:30 am
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$25

Thirty-five years ago, Greg Funfgeld played the harpsichord solo in Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, BWV 1050 in one of his first concerts as the new Associate Conductor of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. In his 35th year with The Choir, he will be joined by Concertmaster Elizabeth Field and principal flautist Robin Kani in a celebratory encore performance.  She-e Wu will be the featured soloist in a concerto for marimba and strings. The Bach Festival Orchestra will offer one of Bach’s most beloved works, the Third Suite in D major, BWV 1068 with its celebrated “Air”.

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Festival Luncheon

May 19, 2018 @ 12:30 pm
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$29

Open to the public, the luncheon includes conversation with one of our Festival soloists. Members of the Heritage Society and Guarantors in the top 3 giving circles ($750+) are our guests.

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The Mass in B Minor

May 19, 2018 @ 2:30 pm
Packer Memorial Church, 18 University Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$34 - $58

Our treasured tradition, attended and warmly received by thousands of people from around the country and around the world since the American premiere of Bach’s monumental Mass at the very first Bethlehem Bach Festival in 1900.  You may want to plan a picnic on the lovely grounds of the church between Parts 1 & 2…another treasured tradition!

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Zimmermann’s Coffee House

May 19, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Peter Hall, Moravian College, 348 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018 United States
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$25

This relaxed event is modeled after Zimmermann’s Coffee House of Bach’s time in Leipzig. The event is held café style in the charming Peter hall at Moravian College with its famous 19th century stained glass windows. For a cover charge of $25 you will hear Baroque chamber music performed by young musicians (chosen by audition) and purchase German fare, wine, and beer. There will also be appearances by Greg Funfgeld and friends to add to the festivities.

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"The performance was one of integrity, movement, passion and weight. The effortless virtuosity and stylistic homegeneity of the combined forces in the chapel's stone sanctity, allowed Bach's music to sing out with infectious, exhilarating enthusiasm."

—The Huffington Post, 2017

"Nestled in the Pennsylvania countryside, on and around the bucolic campus of Lehigh University, the Bethlehem Bach Festival, under the artistic direction of conductor Greg Funfgeld, is in its 108th season and going strong. If it has flaws, they are like those that distinguish a fine emerald from the perfect clarity of a fake...their choral sonority is so rich you can feel it in your bones."

—The Wall Street Journal, May 2015

"Two days later I am Newark bound again, with a head full of the history of a town I previously had no awareness of, and with a heart full of the music of Bach, presented in a context that felt less like a festival than a glorious friendship between a great composer and the orchestra, conductor and choir at the heart of an extraordinary town."

—The Whole-Note - Toronto, June 2015

"The audience was thrilled by this outstanding performance of a Bach Cantata by seasoned experts immersed in the composer and informed by Greg Funfgeld's wisdom and enthusiasm...The Bachs [J.S.B and C.P.E] could not have been better served, not to mention two English Renaissances, as well as our own time. It went beyond mere intelligent programming and committed performance, enriched by a deep sense of the mutual nourishment of music and faith."

—New York Arts, 2015

"The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, founded in the 19th century, has gained international recognition through its annual Bach Festival, tours and recordings. The more than 100 vocalists displayed clean tone, excellent pitch and blend, and kept good tempo even in the most stressful numbers…outstanding, energetic and crisp. The orchestra was a collection of top freelancers from around the Eastern Seaboard including several from Washington… baritone Dashon Burton, was the standout. He has a clarion instrument that projects well throughout his range…a splendid dramatic performance. Soprano Rosa Lamoreaux was also excellent, expertly modulating her silvery tone for the various roles she took…This was the choir’s big night, though, and it gave great pleasure…”

—The Washington Post, March 2013

“A handsome account of Bach’s St. John Passion on this new release confirms that the Bach Choir of Bethlehem doesn’t rest on anything resembling laurels. Greg Funfgeld has trained his singers to articulate words crisply, dance lightly when the music must move and blend elegantly. Funfgeld brings a sure sense of phrasing, texture and pacing to the narrative, and the Bach Festival Orchestra—mostly modern instruments, with viola da gamba, violas d’amore and portative organ supplying period flavors—are cohesive and nimble. Charles Daniels stands out as a poetic and powerful Evangelist, William Sharp as a warmly inflected Jesus and Julia Doyle as a shining champion of the soprano arias.”

—Gramophone, November 2012

“The Bach Choir of Bethlehem sang a Brahms motet (“Lass Dich Nur Nichts”) with all the polish and fervor it brought to cantatas by its namesake.”

—New York Times, September 2011

“..inspired program of hope, optimism and comfort …disarmingly powerful…overflows with jubilation”

—The Morning Call, October 2011

“America’s venerable Bach Choir of Bethlehem makes its Analekta debut on a disc brimming-over with festive D major trumpets-and-drums brilliance…Julia Doyle and Daniel Taylor heading up a distinguished solo line-up.”

—BBC Music Magazine, May 2010

“Conductor Greg Funfgeld coaxed a lovely rich chamber orchestra sound from the Bach Festival Orchestra strings...The hauntingly beautiful voices of Taylor and Zsigovics—she in her festival debut—melted together like two precious metals, hers of bell-like clarity, his a more complex alchemy, with a sheen like liquid mercury.”

—The Morning Call, May 2010

“As I listen to The Bach Choir of Bethlehem with Greg Funfgeld conducting…I find it hard to believe this is an all-volunteer choir but it’s true…a well polished vocal ensemble, and a true level of musicianship and understanding of the choral music of Bach.”

—Minnesota Public Radio Review, December 2009

“…an American musical treasure… they sing with a fervor and a level of musicianship that carries one away—from bass to soprano, the supple strength and solidly integrated tone of this amateur choir reflects the most admirable qualities of the European-American tradition of choral song.”

—Wall Street Journal May, 2007

“By all accounts the chorus remains as vital an institution as ever…The B-Minor Mass performance was rousing, committed and touching…Bach’s ‘St. Matthew Passion’ too was ardently and lovingly performed…”

—New York Times, May 2007

“This is Bach at its finest. The conductor, orchestra, soloists, and chorus are eminently capable of the nuances of the rich harmonic texts …spirited and vivacious…It is not likely to get any better than this on this side of the Atlantic.”

—The American Organist, January, 2004

“America’s venerable Bach Choir of Bethlehem sang Bach and Mendelssohn with good-natured and ruddy-cheeked elation. And their centerpiece was a BBC/Bach Choir co-commission, the world premiere of Libby Larsen’s I It Am, a jubilant cantata based on the writings of Julian of Norwich…this highly coloured and disarmingly unsophisticated work came from, and went straight to, the heart.”

—The Times, London, July 2003

“The Bach Choir of Bethlehem…had their audience enthralled…The choir knows and loves this work – and it shows…transatlantic magic.”

—The Scotsman, Edinburgh, July 2003

“…the Choir and Festival Orchestra, under their director, Greg Funfgeld, perform these three cantatas beautifully and convincingly. The work of the soloists is excellent, too…Excitement, dedication, power—all things that we hear more and more seldom in Bach cantatas—lend distinction to this beautiful and well-produced recording.”

—American Record Guide, November/December 2002

“Nearly one hundred strong, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem tempers its power and energy with the intimacy of a much smaller group. It also blends seamlessly with the excellent modern-instrument Festival orchestra which Greg Funfgeld conducts with an obvious knowledge of, and sensitivity to, modern performance practice.”

—Early Music News, California, October/November 2002

“…intoxicating but precise choral sound that reminds you why choruses grew this large in the first place. The elemental power is startling…the Bethlehem approach under Greg Funfgeld isn’t anachronistic, but meets the historically enlightened approach halfway…We know from Bach’s often irritable correspondence that he campaigned for more singers. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem gives him all he could have wanted. Maybe this is “in-his-dreams” Bach.”

—Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2000

“The Bethlehem Bach Festival is one of the most venerable musical institutions in the USA, with an unmatched tradition of introducing Bach’s music to our shores. Greg Funfgeld…has revitalized this Pennsylvania institution, and Dorian is doing well to document its vibrancy in a recording series… genuine honesty and intelligence informs this performance…Funfgeld has forged a fine body of singers and players…tightly disciplined ensemble …rousing spirit and sacred joy aplenty. This recording will not disappoint.”

—American Record Guide, November/December 2000

“…a performance that confirmed my belief that this is one of the finest large amateur choruses in the United States.”

—The Washington Post, May 1999

“Sheer jubilance…exceptional elegance and grace…radiant performance…Having heard the Bethlehem Bach Choir pour its heart into the master’s vocal music, one will never listen to it in quite the same way again.”

—Musical America, May 2001

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The Choir is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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