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The Barnette Distinguished Scholar Lecture –
George Stauffer, Ph.D.
Great Expectations: Bach in Leipzig We are delighted to welcome back Dr. George Stauffer to present our lecture at this year's Festival. Dr. Stauffer is a Distinguished Professor of Music History and Dean Emeritus, Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Educated at Dartmouth College, Bryn Mawr College, and Columbia University, he is well known for his writings on the music and culture of the Baroque Era and the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach, in particular.…Find out more »
Saint Matthew Passion
Part 1 • 4:00pm Part 2 • 8:00pm The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Bach Festival Orchestra and distinguished soloists ONE TICKET is good for both Part 1 and Part 2 of this performance. Tickets ordered after May 12 will be held at WILL CALL for pick up prior to the concert. This year’s Festival includes two of Bach’s towering choral masterpieces, Everest and K2, alongside one another. The Saint Matthew Passion is cosmic, operatic in its scope, making use of…Find out more »
Mass in B Minor (On-Demand Virtual concert)
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. We LIVE-STREAMED this performance from our Festival; please enjoy the concert on-demand from wherever you are and be part of Greg Funfgeld's final Festival concert as our Artistic Director and Conductor. Ticket buyers have access to view the live-stream up to FIVE TIMES before…Find out more »
The Barnette Distinguished Scholar Lecture
Discovering Bach - The Story of Unearthing the Aria "Alles mit Gott" BWV 1127 In 2005 Michael Maul, member of the research department of Bach-Archive Leipzig, meanwhile artistic director of Bachfest Leipzig, made an sensational discovery. After digging deep into hundreds of Central German archives for almost four years, he came across an anonymous music score of an aria, written on two empty pages of a printed Birthday poem for Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar in 1713. He was able…Find out more »
Bach at 4
Join us for the “conversation + concert” as Christopher Jackson shares insights into works by Bach, including a newly discovered Bach cantata.
J. S. Bach – Actus Tragicus, or, “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit”, BWV 106, for soloists, choir, violas da gamba and recorders.
Johann Michael Bach - seldom heard Bach Family Motets
J. S. Bach – “Lobet den Herrn”, BWV 230, newly discovered and making its Bethlehem premiere!
Chamber Music in the Saal
Please note: The Saal is on the second floor of the museum and is not handicapped accessible. The Vivaldi Project Praised for its brilliant and expressive playing, The Vivaldi Project, founded in 2006, is dedicated to presenting innovative programs of Baroque and Classical string repertoire that combine scholarship and performance to both educate and delight audiences. The period instrument ensemble takes its name from the virtuoso violinist and innovative composer Antonio Vivaldi in recognition of his pivotal position between earlier…Find out more »
Festival Dinner | Lecture
Delicious (and convenient!) dinner at the Festival, please join us as Dr. Larry Lipkis offers remarks and insight into the music of Bach. Seating is limited and this event sells out quickly! Dr. Larry Lipkis, Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence at Moravian University Butz Lobby, Zoellner Arts Center Tickets/Registration required: no tickets available at the door.Find out more »
Bach at 8
Dr. Christopher Jackson leads The Choir, and The Bach Festival Orchestra, along with our 2023 Artist-in-Residence Loretta O'Sullivan and guest soloists as we return to our Bach at 8 Concert at the 115th Festival.
J.S. Bach - “Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir”, BWV 131
C.P.E. Bach - Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Wq. 170 - Featuring Loretta O’Sullivan, cello, Artist in Residence
J.S. Bach - “Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis”, BWV 21
Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert
Baker Hall | Zoellner Arts Center · Lehigh University, Bethlehem
The Bel Canto Youth Chorus:
Artist-in-Residence Loretta O'Sullivan will accompany Bel Canto Concert Choir on "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten" from Cantata 78 , Jesu der du meine Seele
Antonio Vivaldi – Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor, RV 531
J. S. Bach – Orchestral Suite in D Major, BWV 1068
Butz Lobby, Zoellner Arts Center Limited seating is available for this full-course, served luncheon which includes comments from one of acclaimed Festival soloists. Conveniently located in Zoellner Arts Center and open to the public. Members of the Heritage Society and Guarantors in the top 3 giving circles ($750+) attend as our guests. Tickets / Advance registration required. No tickets available at the door. Guarantors: $27 Public: $34Find out more »
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—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.”