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May 2019

Distinguished Scholar Lecture

May 10, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The Significance of the Calov Bible This three-volume bible was discovered in the United States during the 1930's in the home of a German immigrant family and is now housed in the Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. It is extensively marked in Bach's own hand, and offers insight into his many compositions and his views of God and religion.  Dr. Marissen is the Daniel Underhill Professor Emeritus of Music at Swarthmore College. FREE Lecture - no tickets are required. …

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Chamber Music in the Saal

May 10, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Lute, Flute and Recorders Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane is a founding member of early music ensemble The Baltimore Consort, and plays Baroque, Renaissance and traditional Celtic music from the 18th century.  The Saal performances will include the music of J.S. Bach, Allessandro Piccinini, John Dowland, William Byrd and S.L. Weiss. NOTE:  Mindy Rosenfeld will join this performance on Friday, May 17 only.  The Saal is on the second floor of the Moravian Museum and is not handicapped accessible.

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Bach at 4

May 10, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Join us for the "conversation + concert" as Greg Funfgeld shares insights into works by Bach and Telemann. J.S. Bach: Festival premiere!  Cantata 111, Was Mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit (What my God wills always occurs). Georg Philipp Telemann: Sonata for Oboe, featuring Mary Watt, our principal oboe The funeral cantatas, Du aber, Daniel, gehe hin (But you, Daniel, go there) an exquisitely beautiful and contemplative work for soprano, bass, choir, flute, oboe, violin, two gambas and basso continuo.…

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Dinner Discussion: Bach at 8 Concert preview

May 10, 2019 @ 5:45 pm - 7:30 pm

Larry Lipkis, Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence at Moravian College. The Dinner Discussion will be held in the Butz Lobby of Zoellner Arts Center. Registration is required.

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Bach at 8

May 10, 2019 @ 8:00 pm
Packer Memorial Church, 18 University Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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Two Bach Cantatas will be featured at this performance, as well as a Haydn concerto. Bach's Cantata 146 Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal in das Reich Gottes eingehen (Through great tribulation we enter the kingdom of God). In this cantata, we hear virtuosic organ writing and Bach's brilliant transcribing of other works.  It has not been performed at the Festival since 1942!  Cantata 149 Man Singet mit Freuden vom sieg (Let songs of rejoicing be raised) - a brilliant opening chorus,…

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Festival Luncheon

May 11, 2019 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

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. NOTE: The Luncheon will be held in the Butz Lobby of the Zoellner Arts Center. Registration required. 

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May 2021

The Barnette Distinguished Scholar Lecture:
Peter Wollny

May 21 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

    We are delighted to once again present this free lecture at the 2021 Festival. Coming to us from Leipzig, Germany, it's our distinct pleasure to welcome Peter Wollny, researcher at the Bach Archive Leipzig, and its director since 2014. “Bach in Challenging Circumstances – Some Thoughts on Life and Creativity” PETER WOLLNY (Ph.D. Harvard University), Distinguished Scholar Lecture, is the director of the Bach-Archiv Leipzig and professor of musicology at Leipzig University. Between 2016 and 2020 he was a…

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Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert

May 21 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

  This concert is supported in part by The Ifor Jones Memorial Chamber Music Concert fund established through a gift from Donald & Christine Wertman. The Bach Festival Orchestra and artist-in-residence The Paul Taylor Dance Company: Welcome! Join  us as we open the performance with conversation between Greg Funfgeld, Artistic Director and Conductor of The Bach Choir and Michael Novak, Artistic Director of Paul Taylor Dance Company, as they discuss the Company and dance inspired by J.S. Bach's music. Brandenburgs Brandenburg Concertos #6…

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Bach at 4 | Chamber Music: Bach, Handel & Vivaldi

May 22 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

    The Bach Choir is profoundly grateful for the newly established endowment fund for Bach at 4 from the estate of  Rev. Arthur R. Lillicrapp. Program:  We continue our Virtual Festival's concerts with chamber music by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi, including The Four Seasons, featuring Elizabeth Field, concertmaster, as the violin soloist, with one instrument to a part. ELIZABETH FIELD, Violin, has served as concert master of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem since 2001. She…

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“Blessings & Benediction” Concert

May 22 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

  This concert honors and remembers the former conductors and members of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Bach festival orchestra since its beginning in 1898.  their memory and legacy remain with us and continue to inspire us.  The concert is supported in part by an endowment gift from Anthony R. Thompson and Vickie Ziegler Thompson.   For our closing concert of the 2021 Bethlehem Bach Festival,  members of The Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra joined by featured soloists, present a…

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"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, May 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 Morning Call, March 2018

"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."

—The Huffington Post, 2017

"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

"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 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

“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

“…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

“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

“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

“…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

“…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

The Bach Choir gratefully acknowledges and thanks our sponsors and media partners for supporting our organization and the arts.
The Choir is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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