Educational programs and community engagement are a cornerstone of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. The Choir has been recognized nationally and internationally for the outstanding achievements in sharing the music and passion of J.S. Bach with a wide and diverse audience.
These efforts include programs to engage school-aged children and adults at Bach to School, Bach at Noon, the Family Concert, and our Distinguished Scholar lecture – as well as training future singers in the Choral Scholar program.
Most recently, with our July 2018 merger with The Bel Canto Youth Chorus, we expanded programs that have an impact on training and encouraging the next generation of singers. Together, we foster a lifelong passion for the choral arts.
The Choir is also excited to begin digitizing our archival holdings, in the online Archives, detailing the rich and interesting history of the choir since its founding in 1898.
Thank you for your support!
* Exciting news! *
An article about Bel Canto’s Choral Village program, written by Joy Hirokawa, Bel Canto’s Founder and Artistic Director, was published online in Choral Journal and will be the lead article in the print magazine. It will also be included in an upcoming book based on articles that came out of the Relevance Symposium where Joy presented information behind Choral Village.
Bach to School
“Mr. Funfgeld is a great conductor, but I think he secretly would like to be a teacher. He explains a lot.” ~ Grade 7 Student at Strayer Middle School, following a ‘Bach to School’ assembly
Bach to School is an innovative and imaginative educational outreach program that was launched in 1993 and has now been presented for more than 120,000 children.
Because of the in-person attendance restrictions many school districts are following, we are unable to present our award-winning “Bach to School” program to students in our area this season. This program is presented to every third and fifth grade student in the Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton School Districts annually, with additional grades and schools added to the schedule each season.
However, we are addressing the school visitation restrictions and the needs of parents and children at home during the pandemic, in the most innovative way possible: by creating a video presentation that teachers, parents, and students can access online and share virtually, along with activities that students can participate in relating to the video. All students who attend the program receive vouchers for two tickets to a Bach Choir concert, which will also be included in this year’s video program.
We will continue to offer an introduction to the life of J.S. Bach, particularly focusing on his boyhood and initial musical education, and share examples of the influence he has on composers, musicians, and dancers even to this day, including precious archival footage from previous Family Concerts. The video will be narrated by Greg Funfgeld, augmented with messages from soloists and instrumentalists, and interaction with students, all sharing their own insights about the genius of Bach’s music.
While we will miss the opportunity to interact with students in their schools, recording in the sanctuary of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Allentown to present this online program offers several other kinds of benefits, according to Conductor Funfgeld. “Since in-person concerts are not possible, we will create a film that will be offered to all of the schools in The Lehigh Valley to serve as an introduction to Bach, his life, and amazing music – featuring members of The Bach Festival Orchestra, archival recordings from earlier Bach to School and Family Concerts, and some new and innovative offerings that we hope will engage the minds of these precious children.”
The core of our annual program:
Each year Bach to School presents eight assembly programs (each lasting approximately one hour) in school districts throughout the Lehigh Valley and in the surrounding region, reaching a total number of more than 5,000 students annually. The programs are presented by an ensemble of approximately 30 singers and 15 instrumentalists, conducted by Greg Funfgeld. Different versions of the program are targeted for elementary, middle, and high schools. All Lehigh Valley school districts are invited to apply for participation in the program on an rotating basis, with the Bethlehem and Allentown Area School Districts having an ongoing commitment to participate every year.
The students are prepared for Bach to School through classroom instruction with lesson plans provided by The Choir. The program includes a repertoire of seven pieces by Bach, including orchestral and choral works. The heart of the program involves the “Gloria” from the Mass in B Minor taken apart voice by voice and instrument by instrument, then put back together again to demonstrate the genius of Bach’s fugal writing and orchestration. Mr. Funfgeld helps children to see the parallels between music, academics, sports, and their own personal lives by talking about the emotions and creativity of the music, the fruits of practice, and the joy of working together on something you love.
Why Bach to School?
- To bring the joy of Bach’s music to a diverse student population, including many students who have never been to a classical music concert before.
- To use the spark of a live encounter with professional and dedicated volunteer musicians to inspire children with the love of learning and the arts in general.
- To create an interest in Bach as a genius through an imaginative exploration of his life, times, personality, and influence in musical history.
- To create awareness of the importance of classical music, especially Bach, in the heritage of Bethlehem.
- To foster an understanding of The Bach Choir’s existence and function, and an appreciation for the concept of community service or involvement as exemplified by members of The Choir.
- To cultivate a new generation of classical music audiences and artists
TEACHERS: Click the JS Bach TIMELINE link to access a timeline of Bach’s life. (Dates and events are listed in the Elementary School Lesson Plan.) Complete it with your class online!
Bel Canto Youth Chorus
The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and The Bel Canto Youth Chorus merged on July 1, 2018, to begin a historic new partnership as part of The Bach Choir’s continuing mission to expand its educational arm. With the administrative, operational, and artistic support of The Bach Choir, The Bel Canto Youth Chorus relocated to Lehigh Valley, PA. Bel Canto’s administration is now located with The Bach Choir at Heckewelder House in Bethlehem. This new collaboration offers promising programming possibilities for both ensembles and a shared commitment to finding new ways to live the mission of life-long involvement in the choral art.
Bach Chaconne Project
Conceived and directed by Dr. Larry Lipkis, the Bach Chaconne Project debuted at The Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s 2013 Family Concert. The Project was held again in 2015, with its final performance taking place at the 108th Bethlehem Bach Festival. Watch the short film on this page to walk through the process with the ten talented high school participants, including excerpts from their final performance in 2015.
Our 113th Bethlehem Bach Festival will feature a new group of Chaconne Project students, as they present their compositions at the Ifor Jones Chamber Music Concert on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Our Festival Artist-in-Residence that weekend, guitarist Eliot Fisk, has joined the project this season and will perform with the students during the concert.
Interested in learning more about the Bach Chaconne Project, or conducting a similar project at your school or organization?
Click the button below to download the Bach Chaconne Starter Kit.
Enjoy a deeper understanding of the works performed by The Bach Choir of Bethlehem. The Bach Choir is delighted to feature here the work and insights of Carol Traupman-Carr, Ph.D., former Associate Professor of Music and current Associate Provost at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.
Cantata BWV 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Cantata BWV 4, Christ lag in Todes Banden
Cantata BWV 9, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
Cantata BWV 11, Ascension Oratorio: Lobet Gott in seinen Reichen
Cantata BWV 21, Ich hatte viel Bekümmerniss
Cantata BWV 29, Wir danken dir, Gott
Cantata BWV 31, Der Himmel lacht! die Erde jubilieret
Cantata BWV 34, O ewiges Feuer
Cantata BWV 40, Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes
Cantata BWV 43, Gott fahret auf mit Jauchzen
Cantata BWV 51, Jauchzet Gott
Cantata BWV 56, Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen
Cantata BWV 59, Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten
Cantata BWV 63, Christen ätzet diesen Tag
Cantata BWV 69, Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele
Cantata BWV 71, Gott ist mein König
Cantata BWV 73, Herr wie du willt
Cantata BWV 74, Wer mich liebet
Cantata BWV 76, Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes
Cantata BWV 80, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
Cantata BWV 82, Ich habe genug
Cantata BWV 102, Herr, deine Augen sehen nach dem Glauben!
Cantata BWV 103, Ihr werdet weinen und heulen, aber die Welt wird sich freuen
Cantata BWV 105, Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht
Cantata BWV 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit
Cantata BWV 110, Unser Mund sei voll Lachens
Cantata BWV 130, Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir
Cantata BWV 131, Aus der Tiefen
Cantata BWV 137, Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren
Cantata BWV 140, Wachet Auf
Cantata BWV 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben
Cantata BWV 149, Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg
Cantata BWV 151, Süsser Trost, mein Jesus kömmt
Cantata BWV 156, Ich steh mit einem Fuss im Grabe
Cantata BWV 169, Gott soll allein mein Herze haben
Cantata BWV 174, Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte?
Cantata BWV 182, Himmelskönig, sei willkommen
Cantata BWV 198, Trauer Ode
Cantata BWV 211, Coffee Cantata
Masses and Mass Parts
Motet BWV 159a, Ich lasse dich nicht
Motet BWV 225, Singet dem Herrn
Motet BWV 226, Der Geist hilft
Motet BWV 228, Fürchte dich nicht
Motet BWV 229, Komm, Jesu, komm
Motet BWV 230, Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden
Other Choral Works
Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F Major, BWV 1046
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047
Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G major, BWV 1049
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050
BWV 812-817: Six French Suites
Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major, BWV 1066
Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067
Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069
Partita in D Major for Harpsichord, BWV 828
Suite in E minor for Lautenwerk, BWV 996
Violin Concerto in E Major, BWV 1054
The Well Tempered Clavier, BWV 846-869