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May 2018

Bach Outdoors!

May 18, 2018 @ 12:00 pm
Payrow Plaza, 10 East Church Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018 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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May 2019

Bach Outdoors

May 17, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Payrow Plaza, 10 East Church Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018 United States
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FREE Concert!  Join us on Friday at noon as we enjoy the blue sky and beauty of a Spring afternoon in Bethlehem, and open our Festival weekends with a very special performance by principal violist, Paul Miller and friends as they perform using electric violin along with other modern instruments to offer some classic pieces.  Paul is joined this year by the Festival Brass Choir.

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Bach at 4

May 17, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Incarnation of Our Lord Church, 617 Pierce St.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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Join us for "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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Chamber Music in the Saal

May 17, 2019 @ 4:00 pm
Moravian Museum of Bethlehem, 66 W. Church St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018 United States
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Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane and flutist and multi-instrumentalist Mindy Rosenfeld are both founding members of early music ensemble The Baltimore Consort, and play 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.

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Dinner Discussion: Bach at 8 Concert preview

May 17, 2019 @ 5:45 pm
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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Larry Lipkis, Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence at Moravian College.

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Bach at 8

May 17, 2019 @ 8:00 pm
Packer Memorial Church, 18 University Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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$22 – $34

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, using trumpets and timpani along with an utterly charming alto/tenor duet with bassoon obligato, sets the tone of this triumphant cantata.
Franz Joseph Haydn:  Second Concerto for Horn in D Major. 

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Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert

May 18, 2019 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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The Bel Canto Youth Chorus and Bach's Concerti for Three and Four Harpsichords

This year's concert features the world premiere of The Day Is Done, a new work by distinguished composer Gwyneth Walker. The Bach Choir of Bethlehem commissioned this piece to celebrate its merger with the 25-year-old Bel Canto Youth Chorus. It will be performed by the young singers of Bel Canto and members of The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra. Joy Hirokawa, founder and artistic director of Bel Canto, will direct this work, along with additional repertoire for The Bel Canto Youth Chorus: Bach: Duet from Cantata 93 Alexander: Faith is the Bird That Feels the LightTodd: Ave VerumWalker: I’ve Known Rivers – Jump Right in

The concert also includes J.S. Bach's Concerti for Three and Four Harpsichords BWV 1064 and 1065. These rarely heard works are delightful and full of virtuosity. Featuring Greg Funfgeld, Thomas Goeman, Kerry Heimann, and Charlotte Mattax Moersch.

This performance will be held at Baker Hall in Zoellner Arts Center.

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Festival Luncheon

May 18, 2019 @ 12:30 pm
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, 420 E. Packer Ave.
Bethlehem, PA 18015 United States
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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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"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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