The Mission of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and its Bach Festival Orchestra is to perform the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and to promote and encourage appreciation of the aesthetic and spiritual value of Bach’s music, while striving for the highest standards of musical excellence. We achieve this mission by engaging our audience – locally, nationally, and internationally – through education and performance, including works by composers who influenced Bach and were influenced by him, and through the programs of our Bel Canto Youth Chorus. Together, we cultivate a lifelong passion for the choral arts.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem is the oldest American Bach Choir, and gave the first American performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor and the Christmas Oratorio. Since its founding in 1898, the Choir has been attracting thousands of national and international visitors every May to its annual Bethlehem Bach Festival. Under the direction of conductor Greg Funfgeld since 1983, The Choir’s activities have expanded to a year-round season of 40 concerts and educational programs for an audience of more than 22,000; recordings for the Dorian and Analekta labels, films for PBS and Classical Kids, and touring performances including the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany; the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London; Carnegie Hall and Trinity Church Wall St, New York City; and the Kennedy Center and Music Center at Strathmore in the Washington D.C. area. In June, 2020, The Choir will be featured in a performance in the Thomaskirche, as part of Leipzig’s famous Bachfest, as well as concerts in Dresden, Herrnhut and Prague.
Greg Funfgeld is now in his 37th season as artistic director and conductor of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. He has expanded the programs of The Bach Choir beyond the annual Bach Festival to become a year-round season of 40 concerts and educational programs with an audience of more than 20,000. Mr. Funfgeld led The Choir on two major concert tours, to Germany in 1995 including the Herkulessaal at Munich’s Royal Residence and the Thomaskirche, Bach’s church in Leipzig, and to the United Kingdom in 2003 including a performance for the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall. In June, 2020, he will return to Leipzig for the Choir's third performance in Germany as part of the 2020 BachFest We Are Family, which will include additional concerts in Herrnhut and Dresden and in Prague, Czech Republic.
He also directed The Choir’s Centennial performances at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall (1999-2000), performances at Saint Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church, Wall Street as part of a series of concerts entitled Remember to Love, presented in observance of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and most recently Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the Music Center at Strathmore (2013). Commissioned works during Mr. Funfgeld’s tenure have included Libby Larsen’s Cantata I It Am – The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, co-commissioned with the BBC Proms; and Stephen Paulus’ A Dream of Time, commissioned in honor of Funfgeld’s 25th anniversary with The Bach Choir and included in the Songs of Hope recording for Analekta in 2011.
Under Mr. Funfgeld’s leadership, The Choir has released 14 recordings, most recently Bach's Cantata BWV 21 and Handel's Ode for St. Cecelia's Day (2019), and A Child's Christmas in Bethlehem (2013) on the Analekta label, and co-produced two films—the PBS documentary, Make a Joyful Noise, and the internationally distributed Classical Kids’ DVD, Mr. Bach Comes to Call. In 2020, he will lead the Choir on a third European Tour, including a performance at the Bachfest in Leipzig in June, 2020, with additional concerts scheduled in Herrnhut, Dresden and Prague. Mr. Funfgeld is the architect and director of the Choir’s outstanding educational outreach programs, including Bach to School, Bach at Noon and the annual collaborative Family Concert. These programs were awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grants in 2011-2017, and an international award from the J.S. Bach Foundation, Switzerland in 2012. Mr. Funfgeld is a member of the advisory board of The American Bach Society. Mr. Funfgeld served as the director of music at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem 1976-2016.
Mr. Funfgeld is a 1976 graduate of Westminster Choir College, where he studied under Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt. In 1986, he received the Alumni Merit Award for excellence in musical performance. In 2007, Mr. Funfgeld was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lehigh University in recognition of his musical accomplishments locally, nationally, and internationally. In April 2018, Mr. Funfgeld was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from Moravian College by President Bryan L. Grigsby, who noted that his "contributions to music on the local, national and global stage are well documented and his impact will be felt for years to come through the recordings captured during his exemplary tenure as Artistic Director and Conductor.” Photo Credit: Trevor Dixon
Bridget George came to The Bach Choir as Executive Director in 1997. She has led the administration of The Choir through the implementation of five Strategic plans and 20 concert seasons that have included the Centennial Celebration (1998-2000) and performances at Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Severance Hall, Saint Paul’s Chapel, Trinity Church Wall Street, and the Music Center at Strathmore. Ms. George was responsible for booking and administering The Choir’s eight-concert United Kingdom tour in 2003, including a performance for the BBC Proms.
Ms. George was executive producer of the film Mr. Bach Comes to Call, produced by The Bach Choir with Classical Kids/The Children’s Group, and broadcast nationwide on PBS in 2007. She has been involved in the production of ten of The Choir’s recordings including, most recently, A Child’s Christmas in Bethlehem (2013) for which she compiled the spoken word. She also helped produce the Lehigh Valley PBS production of Make a Joyful Noise—an Emmy-award winning documentary on The Choir, and was the compiler and editor of Dear Mr. Funfgeld, published by The Choir in 2013.
Ms. George has administered the expansion of The Choir’s educational programs with annual Family Concerts, the Bach at Noon free concert series, and the alliance with Bel Canto Children’s Chorus, launched in 2016. She also administered the Choir’s Second Century Fund Campaign (2007), campaign to endow the Choir’s new headquarters at the 1810 Heckewelder House (2014) and the Reimagining The Bach Festival Campaign (2014.)
Born in England and educated at Oxford University, with a BA in Philosophy and Psychology, Ms. George sang with Oxford’s ScholaCantorum under Andrew Parrot. She also has a Diploma of Education from Goldsmiths College, London and was a teacher at Coburg Primary School, London, specializing in music and drama education. Since moving to Bethlehem in 1976, Ms. George has worked full-time in the field of arts administration. She co-founded Touchstone Theatre in 1981 and was the company’s Producing Director from 1990-95. Her accomplishments at Touchstone included producing the international Theatre of Creation festival, and co-producing a play with Chile’s Teatro la Memoria. Ms. George has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Hal Black has been President of The Bach Choir since 2014 and a member of the Board of Managers since 2003. During his tenure, on the Board he has served as chair of the Guarantor Committee. Marketing Committee, the re-Imagining the Bach Festival Task Force, and co-chair of the 2013 Gala, as well as assistant treasurer on the Finance Committee. Hal has one of the highest records of board members for attending The Choir’s concerts and social events and bringing friends to experience The Choir for the first time. He also likes to listen in on The Choir’s Monday night rehearsals and he and his wife Allison have been generous supporters of The Choir in countless ways.
Mr. Black was an executive at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., where he held various positions in commercial development, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisition during his 30-year career. Prior to that he worked in research and development and engineering for DuPont de Nemours and Co. and the Uniroyal Chemical Company. He retired in 2011. He holds degrees in Chemical Engineering, Spanish, and Business from Bucknell University and the University of Delaware. In retirement, Mr. Black has been active in the field of mergers and alliances among non-profit organizations, has lent his skills managing programs for the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley and serving on the Board of Habitat for Humanity, and has helped Trout Unlimited form a fly-fishing club at Lehigh University. He has also begun the study of piano and music composition and has had original compositions performed in recital at the Community Music School. He and his wife Allison, who is an avid equestrian, enjoy travel and attending live performances of music in all genres.
Artistic Director & Conductor
Assistant Conductor & Accompanist
Orchestra Personnel Manager
Finance and Business Manager
Production & Office Assistant
Bel Canto Artistic Director & Conductor
Bel Canto Administrator
Board of Managers - Officers
Retired Director of Mergers & Acquisitions
Air Products, Bethlehem, PA
Senior Pastor, Central Moravian Church
Vice President and Vice Provost for International Affairs
Lehigh University, Bethlehem PA
Vice President, PNC Institutional Advancement
Law Offices of Anthony Thompson, Bethlehem, PA
Muhlenberg Elementary School,
Retired Sr. Engineer
Air Products, Glen Mills, PA
Board of Managers - Members
Retired School Principal
Retired President & CEO
Health Network Labs, Bethlehem, PA
Owner of Cardstock Warehouse Paper Co., Inc.
Retired Vice President
City Center Investment Corp., Allentown PA
Retired Sr. VP – Administration
Bethlehem Steel, Bethlehem, PA
Rexroth Corporation, Bethlehem, PA
Professor of Music and Composer in Residence,
Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA
Professor of History Emeritus of Moravian College
Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., Allentown, PA
Director, Leadership Tri-County
TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc., Pottstown, PA
Retired Senior Manager at the World Bank;
Sovereign Debt Risk Management Consultant
Senior Vice President, Finance & Operations at Ambassador Financial Group
Director of Donor Services, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation
CEO & President
Psychology Associates of Bethlehem, PA
Trinity Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, PA
Retired Chief Operating Officer
Seedway, Hall, NY
Members of the all-volunteer choir come from all walks of life and collectively donate over 10,000 hours annually for rehearsals and performances. To learn more about how to become a choir member, please see Auditions below.
Emily A. Gross
Nancy Williamson Hooke
Erynn R. Mann*
Carrie Krug Nedick
Martha Cox Popichak
Wendy E. Borst
Tina M. Lebrecht
Lynn German Long
Grace Adele Spruiell
Victoria Spruiell – leave of absence, 2018-2019
Lynn Whitehouse Birney
Jean Anne Shafferman
Dorothy Z. Cockrell
Mary Zsido Paini *
Kurt C. Anchorstar *
Brendan D. James
Bryan K. Holten
Anthony R. Villani*
Christopher T. Wagner
Tony W. Austin
James M. Chiadis *
Joseph Fink – leave of absence, 2018-2019
Brian C. Snyder
John L. Sullivan
David R. Umla
Bryan K. Gerhab*
James W. Rowland
Choir History and Archives
The roots of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the oldest Bach Choir in America, go back to Colonial times and to the Moravians who settled Bethlehem in 1712. The Choir was founded in 1898 by its first conductor John Frederick Wolle, an organist at Central Moravian Church, and gave the first complete performances in America of the Mass in B Minor (1900) and Christmas Oratorio (1901). Since its founding in 1898, The Choir has been attracting thousands of visitors to the annual Bethlehem Bach Festival, now held on the campus of Lehigh University and in and around the historic Bethlehem neighborhood. Greg Funfgeld, the sixth conductor of The Choir, has been artistic director and conductor since 1983 and is now in his 36th season. He has expanded the programs of The Bach Choir beyond the annual Bach Festivals to become a year-round season of 31 concerts and educational programs with an audience of more than 20,000.
The Archives of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem preserves documents related to the activities of The Choir, making them available for study. To schedule an appointment to view the Archives, contact Mary Dawson, Archivist.
Telegram, dated April 5, 1927
To: Fred Wolle
From: Edith Roosevelt
“Happy returns of the day which brought happiness to the listening world.”
Documents Available by Appointment:
- Board and Committee Minutes
- Festival Offerings: Compiled and Annotated
- Individual Festival and concert programs
- Lists and Dates of Works Performed
- Vocal scores of J. Fred Wolle and Ifor Jones
- Orchestral scores of Wolle and Jones
- Orchestral parts of Wolle and Jones
- Manuscript writings of Wolle and Jones
- Short Histories of The Choir
- Wolle Correspondence
- Scrap books by year, 1900-present
- Images and archival photos
Employment Opportunity: Artistic Director and Conductor
THE BACH CHOIR OF BETHLEHEM AND BACH FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR
“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)
“…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)
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem invites applications and referrals for the position of Artistic Director & Conductor.
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem
The Mission of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and its Bach Festival Orchestra is to perform the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and to promote and encourage appreciation of the aesthetic and spiritual value of Bach’s music, while striving for the highest standards of musical excellence. This mission is achieved by engaging its audience—locally, nationally, and internationally—through education and performance, including works by composers who influenced Bach and were influenced by him, and through the programs of The Bel Canto Youth Chorus. Together, The Choir and Bel Canto cultivate a lifelong passion for the choral arts.
Founded in 1898, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem is the oldest Bach Choir in the United States and gave the first American performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor (1900) and the Christmas Oratorio (1904). Since its founding, The Choir has attracted thousands of national and international visitors to its annual Bethlehem Bach Festival every May. Today, The Choir consists of 85 volunteer singers and a 30-piece Bach Festival Orchestra made up of professionals and Baroque specialists from 11 states. The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, now in its 25th year, is a group of 50 singers in grades 6 through 12. The Choir is supported by an administrative staff of six persons led by Executive Director Bridget George, and is headquartered in the historic district of Bethlehem, PA. The Board of Managers of The Choir consists of 25 individuals from 4 states. The annual budget is approximately $1.5 million.
Under the leadership of Greg Funfgeld, The Choir’s activities have expanded to a year-round season of 40 concerts and educational programs with an audience of more than 20,000; recordings for the Dorian and Analekta labels, films for PBS and Classical Kids, and touring performances to such concert halls as the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Royal Albert Hall/BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall, Trinity Church Wall Street, the Kennedy Center, and the Music Center at Strathmore. The Bach Choir will be featured at Bachfest Leipzig in 2020.
The Choir has been recognized for its outstanding educational outreach programs (Bach at Noon, Bach to School, imaginative Family Concerts, selection of Choral Scholars, collaborative initiatives with other Arts organizations, among many other activities) through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and by the J.S. Bach Foundation in Switzerland, the first American recipient of its annual award, recognizing its outstanding work in Bach performance and education for young people. In 2019, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, directed by founder Dr. Joy Hirokawa, merged with The Bach Choir to have a greater impact on training the next generation of choral singers.
Maestro Funfgeld is only the sixth conductor in The Choir’s history and is now in his 37th season. He plans to retire June of 2021. To read the press release regarding the leadership transition at The Choir, CLICK HERE.
The Position of Artistic Director and Conductor:
The most important qualities sought in the new Artistic Director and Conductor are artistic excellence and superb musicianship at an international level, as well a passionate commitment to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the ability to inspire and elicit performances of high quality and emotional impact.
Reporting to the Board of Managers and working closely with the Executive Director, the new Artistic Director and Conductor must have the skills, abilities, and character to follow a charismatic leader who has taken The Choir to a new level of quality and activity.
The Artistic Director and Conductor is charged with creating an artistic strategy consistent with the vision, mandate, and values of The Choir, as well as planning repertoire, overseeing educational and community outreach activities, and serving as a public face for the organization. This is a full-time position and assumes residence in Bethlehem or within the Greater Lehigh Valley.
The Artistic Director and Conductor must be able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with the Board of Managers, Choir staff, Choir and orchestra members, the media, fellow artists, other arts groups, sponsors, educational institutions, volunteers, audiences and other stakeholders.
The Artistic Director and Conductor will be expected to perform publicity/marketing functions, participate in fund-raising, major gift cultivation, and donor meetings, manage rehearsals and scheduling, and build strong partnerships with other organizations.
- Passionate commitment to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, including a comprehensive knowledge of Bach’s works.
- Outstanding skills as a choral and orchestral conductor.
- Well-versed in historically-informed performance practices with both modern and period instruments.
- Excellent leadership qualities, including strong communication skills, visionary ideas, and collegial behavior.
- The ability to relate well with all of the constituencies within The Bach Choir Family, including singers, instrumentalists, audiences of all ages, staff, board members, donors, and volunteers.
- Knowledge of and respect for the unique history and traditions of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, and support for its mission.
- Advanced degree in choral conducting and experienced keyboard player preferred.
Other Information and Application Process:
Compensation commensurate with experience. Relocation assistance, if needed, is negotiable.
Interested candidates are invited to submit a letter of interest in confidence, as well as a resume, salary expectations, list of references, up to three audio recordings, and up to three videos of professional quality (one of which is of a choral rehearsal and one of a concert including orchestra) by Friday, January 31, 2020 to:
GENOVESE, VANDERHOOF & ASSOCIATES
We recommend you upload your video samples to a private YouTube page and send us the links or create a Google Drive folder to share.
For additional information, see:
www. Bach.org, www.genovesevanderhoof.com
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem does not discriminate against any person based on race, color, gender identify or expression, sexual orientation, religion, age, familial or marital status, veteran status, non-job related disability or any other basis protected by applicable federal, state, or local laws.
2019-2020 Concert Season
Young American Singer’s Competition:
May 17, 2020: Up to ten finalists will appear before a panel of distinguished judges and a live audience in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The First Prize winner chosen by the judges on that day will receive a career development grant of $3,000 and a solo performing opportunity with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Greg Funfgeld, Artistic Director & Conductor, in a future season.
In addition to the first prize, up to three additional cash awards of $500 may be awarded to other finalists, at the judges’ discretion.
Judges at the Finals on May 17, 2020, will include:
- Greg Funfgeld, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem
- Other distinguished Bach performers and specialists, to be announced
- Preliminary application is by audio or video recording of one secco recitative and two J.S. Bach arias uploaded via the online portal https://getacceptd.com/
- From these preliminary applications, up to ten finalists will be chosen.
- Application Deadline Friday, March 20, 2020.
- All applications must be received by the Competition Administrator on or before this date.
- All applicants will be notified via email no later than April 15, 2020.
- The finalists will sing in Bethlehem, PA, on Sunday, May 17, 2020, 1:00–3:00pm.
- Location: Peter Hall, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA 18018.
- At the finals, each singer will present one secco recitative and two arias by J.S. Bach, (not necessarily those in the preliminary application). Piano accompanist will be provided. Finalists are welcome to bring their own accompanist if they wish.
- Finalists must make their own travel arrangements. By car, Bethlehem is 90 minutes north of Philadelphia and approximately 2 hours west of New York City. (Google Map)
- Bethlehem is about five miles from the Lehigh Valley Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The finals take place during the 113th Bethlehem Bach Festival. Finalists may request complimentary tickets to concerts on the weekend of the competition. Please visit the Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s website www.bach.org to view the Festival schedule.
- Application is via www.getacceptd.com which charges a $30 application fee.
- Applications will close at midnight March 20, 2020.
- We will make every effort to choose the ten finalists and notify every applicant no later than April 15, 2020.
Zimmermann’s Coffee House:
Auditions for Zimmermann’s Coffee House at our 113th Bethlehem Bach Festival in May, 2020 are being scheduled! Talented musicians in high school and college, who reside or attend a school within PMEA District 10, are encouraged to audition for this cafe style performance, offering chamber music and vocal performances. Ensembles encouraged to audition!
Audition eligibility requirements:
- College or High School Students
- Students must reside or study in PMEA District 10 (Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, Pike or Schuylkill counties) or Bucks County.
- Instrumentalists or singers of advanced ability
- Baroque music for solo instruments and voices or ENSEMBLES (vocal or instrumental). Ensembles are very much encouraged.
- Your audition piece does not have to be by Bach. We encourage a variety of Baroque music so that the program can be a varied and festive one with plenty of up tempo pieces included.
- We can provide an accompanist if your piece requires one.
- Each soloist/ensemble should prepare 6-8 minutes of music. (8 acts or up to 16 acts to be presented over the two Festival weekends will be chosen.)
- Availability and commitment to the time-line outlined below.
- Recommendation from teacher of private lessons by email to email@example.com
To schedule an audition, students should contact Crista Pinkston, Administrative Assistant, 610-866-4382, Ext 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audition time frame:
First auditions: Friday, February 14 and Friday, February 21, 2020 – 1pm – 5pm
Final audition: Saturday, April 25 , 2020 – 10am – noon
113th Bethlehem Bach Festival: Zimmermann’s Coffee House, 7-9:30 pm on May 9 & 16, 2020
All auditions take place at the Bach Choir Office, the historic Heckewelder House.
440 Heckewelder Place
Bethlehem, PA 18018
—The Morning Call, May 2018
"From anguish to elation, and just about everything in between, pretty much describes the vast emotional landscape covered in Friday evening’s concert at Packer Memorial Church presented by the Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Splendid musicianship, rousing choruses, and the sublime voices of the soloists turned grief into joy and sorrow into triumph."
—The Morning Call, March 2018
"The oft-quoted phrase 'a drumroll, please' aptly applies to the opening of Rutter’s exultant Gloria, which provided a dramatic finale to the program. What a thrill to hear those punchy, syncopated brass lines accompanying some really polished and vibrant singing. The “Domine Deus” section sported some lovely soprano voices in addition to many demanding, multi-part choruses –— some with up to eight parts. There was a miraculous blend of tone and balance throughout."
—The Huffington Post, 2017
"The performance was one of integrity, movement, passion and weight. The effortless virtuosity and stylistic homogeneity of the combined forces in the chapel's stone sanctity, allowed Bach's music to sing out with infectious, exhilarating enthusiasm."
—New York Arts, 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."
—The Wall Street Journal, May 2015
"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 Whole-Note - Toronto, June 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 Washington Post, March 2013
"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…”
—Gramophone, November 2012
“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.”
—New York Times, September 2011
“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.”
—The Morning Call, October 2011
“..inspired program of hope, optimism and comfort …disarmingly powerful…overflows with jubilation”
—BBC Music Magazine, May 2010
“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.”
—The Morning Call, 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.”
—Minnesota Public Radio Review, December 2009
“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.”
—Wall Street Journal May, 2007
“…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.”
—New York Times, 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…”
—The American Organist, January, 2004
“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 Times, London, July 2003
“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 Scotsman, Edinburgh, July 2003
“The Bach Choir of Bethlehem…had their audience enthralled…The choir knows and loves this work – and it shows…transatlantic magic.”
—Early Music News, California, October/November 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.”
—American Record Guide, November/December 2002
“…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.”
—Musical America, May 2001
“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.”
—American Record Guide, November/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.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2000
“…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.”
—The Washington Post, May 1999
“…a performance that confirmed my belief that this is one of the finest large amateur choruses in the United States.”
—Anthony and Vickie Thompson, Bach Choir Guarantors
"The knowledge that our organization’s financial affairs are being managed in a conservative and prudent manner is a comfort to anyone who makes a gift to The Bach Choir of Bethlehem."
—Carroll Neubauer, B. Braun
"The Bach Choir is truly a wonderful organization committed to preserving the rich history of baroque music for multiple generations to experience and enjoy. B. Braun is proud to sponsor this year’s Gala, which features the German boys choir. The Bach Choir is not only a regional asset in our community but a national treasure as well."
—Ginny and Randall Aires, Bach Choir Guarantors
“They haven’t missed a Bach Festival for the past 25 years. When asked to comment on their favorite aspects of the Festival, Ginny is quick to reflect on the uplifting spiritual renewal she experiences at each concert, while Randall speaks with great reverence about the Mass in B Minor, which he says has the same powerful effect and 'feels fresh' each time he experiences it."
—Bill Kreitz, HMK Insurance President
“The Bach Choir is one of the Lehigh Valley’s cultural gems. The season includes free concerts, a Bach Festival, and extraordinary concerts throughout the year. There’s something for everyone.”
—Bruce Haines, Hotel Bethlehem
“We value our partnership with our historic neighbor’s from the Bach Choir and appreciate their continuing contributions to the cultural heritage of Bethlehem.”
—James Kinyon, Southern Lehigh High School
“The Bach Choir was a worthwhile growing experience. The challenging repertoire is just what any dedicated chorister needs to expand their horizons. Plus, it helps when The Choir members and Staff are wonderful people and a blast to hang out with.”
—Charlie Walter, Janney
“We firmly believe that by supporting the Bach Choir of Bethlehem we are providing opportunities for others to experience the wonder and joy of our locally based national treasure."
—Madelyn Dundon, Bethlehem Catholic H.S.
“Being a Bach Choir Choral Scholar has taken me more places than I thought I would go. Not only the exposure to the music of J.S. Bach, but the opportunity to learn and share it with others has been one of, if not the greatest experience of my life here in Bethlehem.”
—Margot Teleki, Bach Choir Guarantor
"Margot lives by her faith and believes that discovering The Bach Choir was divine intervention. 'This opened a Pandora’s box of fond memories of a life which I had left behind years ago. In discovering The Bach Choir, I felt I was at home.'”
"It is so wonderful to be in the presence of so many music lovers at Festival time. And then to hear the glory of the Mass. Words cannot describe the joy that I feel when I hear it."
Nancy B., longtime Bethlehem Bach Festival attendee
—James Kinyon, Southern Lehigh High School
“The Bach Choir was a worthwhile growing experience. The challenging repertoire is just what any dedicated chorister needs to expand their horizons. Plus, it helps when The Choir members and Staff are wonderful people and a blast to hang out with.”