When Greg Funfgeld shared his ambitions for the 2011 Spring Concert with the Board of Managers late last spring, my ears perked up. Each of the pieces on the program is, in and of itself, a musical occasion, and, combined, should make for a stunning afternoon of sonic delights. The executives at our recording label, Analekta, agreed, and asked that we record this repertoire for the next in our initial series of three recordings with them (the first being our recording of the Bach Magnificat, Cantata No. 191, and the Vivaldi Gloria,and the third, our upcoming recording of the St. John Passion). Those plans were already materializing in the spring when our beloved Deputy Executive Director, Winnie Erdman died after an exceptionally courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. In the wake of her passing, it was unanimously decided that we would dedicate both our performances and the recording to Winnie, whose impact on the organization would be hard to overstate. As anyone who contacted the office during her tenure would know, a conversation with Winnie was an occasion, itself. Her kindness and grace were in abundant display in the way she related to members of The Choir and our audience. Often, in my administrative roles, when confronted with a vexing problem, I still wonder, “What would Winnie do?” I also remember, fondly, her lightning-fast wit and her generosity of spirit. Watching Winne interact with audience members in the hospitality tent at the Festival was always a pleasure: the warmth of her welcome to festival patrons both old and new was a big part of the kind face of the organization to which we aspire and in which we take pride. Winnie is sorely missed by her friends in the organization (perhaps by none more than her wonderful colleagues in the office), and I know that many of us, both in The Choir, and those in the larger Bach Choir family treasure our memories of her.
It is pleasing, then, to know that we will be remembering Winne with an afternoon (and in the case of our Harrisburg performance, an evening) of exceptionally beautiful music. The program is one we’re very eager to share with our audience, and in the coming days, I’m going to write about each piece separately. There’s a danger in writing about the kind of music that we’re so lucky to perform: that the frequent use of superlatives can come across as overselling. In the case of this concert, I’m going to have to march on without regard to that danger – these performances mark an opportunity to hear an astonishing program of music that isn’t often heard in the Valley. The Choir has been vigorously digging into the repertoire – there have been extra rehearsals, much practice on our own, and a lot of enthusiasm and passion for sharing this music. Details of the concert and tickets are available on our The Choir’s main website.
Update: 3/13/11: I’m going to supply links to my individual posts about the repertoire below, and I’m also including a recently-recorded video of Greg speaking about the concert from the Bachhaus, our new headquarters, just up the street from the old at 440 Heckewelder Pace, in lovely Historic Bethlehem.