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Bach at Noon | April 11
April 11 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
We’re in Bethlehem for Bach at Noon this April in Central Moravian Church. Join us on April 11th, 2023 to hear members of The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra, conducted by Artistic Director and Conductor, Christopher Jackson. Featuring guest soloists Jessica Beebe, soprano; Kate Maroney, mezzo-soprano; James Reece, tenor; and instrumental soloists Loretta O’Sullivan, cello; Nobuo Kitagawa, oboe d’amore; and Mary Watt, oboe d’amore.
Dr. Jackson comes to us from Muhlenberg College, where he served as the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities. He is also a member of Skylark Vocal Ensemble, a professional choral ensemble where he serves as Director of Education, and The Thirteen, a Washington D.C. based choral ensemble. He was also the Conductor and Co-Founder of the Lycoming Baroque Choir and Orchestra where he conducted works by Bach and others.
Join us at Central Moravian!
Doors open at 11:30 am | Concert begins at 12:10 pm
Click here to see the Bach at Noon program.
Jessica Beebe, soprano
Lauded as having a “honey-colored tone” and “the most radiant solo singing” from Opera News, soprano Jessica Beebe is an affecting interpreter of repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque to contemporary American opera. As a sought-after concert soloist, Ms. Beebe has performed as a soloist with several major orchestras and ensembles across the world including, The New York Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, The English Concert at the Barbican Theatre, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, The Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, The Folger Consort, Utah Symphony, Omaha Symphony Lancaster Symphony, The Washington Bach Consort, Piffaro, Gamut Bach Ensemble, Philadelphia Bach Collegium, and more. Her solo operatic highlights include premiering multiple operas by Jennifer Higdon, Lembit Beecher, and David Hertzberg with Opera Philadelphia, covering in Norway’s Bergen National Opera, and a Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in Meredith Monk’s opera, Atlas. Ms. Beebe is a member of Variant 6, The Crossing, Seraphic Fire, Clarion, Lorelei, Trio Eos, and The Thirteen and is on several GRAMMY nominated albums with The Crossing and Clarion Ensemble. Ms. Beebe is a voice faculty member at Franklin and Marshall College and Muhlenberg College and maintains a private voice studio from her home in Lansdale PA. For exciting upcoming performances please visit www.jessicabeebesoprano.com.
Kate Maroney, mezzo-soprano
is a versatile concert soloist in repertoire from Bach to the 21st century. She has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Blue Hill Bach, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, New York City Ballet, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Seraphic Fire, Berkshire Choral Festival, Voices of Ascension, TENET Vocal Artists, Ekmeles, Carmel Bach Festival, Opera Grand Rapids, Beth Morrison Projects, Trinity Wall Street, LA Opera, Lincoln Center Festival, Oregon Bach Festival, Musica Sacra, Bach Collegium San Diego, Princeton Pro Musica, Bach Vespers Holy Trinity, Mark Morris Dance Group, Yale Choral Artists, American Opera Projects, The Crossing, and Clarion. Ms. Marony has collaborated closely with Philip Glass, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Martin Bresnick, Julia Wolfe, Missy Mazzoli, Nina Young, Dominick Argento, Christopher Cerrone, and Ted Hearne. She is on recordings with Albany, Naxos, and New Amsterdam Records, the Grammy winning recording of Ethel Smyth’s The Prison, and is soloist on recordings with Clarion, Seraphic Fire’s Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum, and a forthcoming recording with David Lang of the little match girl passion. She holds a D.M.A. from Eastman, degrees from SUNY Purchase and Yale, and teaches at Mannes and Yale. Kate resides in Brooklyn with musician-husband, Red Wierenga, and their son, Ossian. www.katemaroney.com
James Reese, tenor
brings his versatile and thoughtful singing to concert stages throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He regularly performs with world-class orchestras and ensembles, particularly in the field of baroque music. Among his collaborators are Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Tafelmusik, The Sebastians, and the Boston Early Music Festival. He is also an active recitalist; he collaborates with pianist Daniel Overly in performances of song, and together, they made a recital debut at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society in 2022. Mr. Reese also makes regular appearances with the leading art song presenter Lyric Fest, with whom he has performed four world premieres. The San Francisco Chronicle has praised his singing as “splendid,” and the Broad Street Review has written of his singing: “[Reese] was captivating…even more impressive than his vocal deployment was the narrative momentum he sustained throughout the performance.”
Loretta O’Sullivan, cello
has been acclaimed for her “scrupulous musicianship…gorgeous sound and stylistic acuity” (Washington Post) and is known for her incandescent presence. A longtime member of the Bach Festival Orchestra, Ms. O’Sullivan is also engaged in an international career of broad scope, including performances at Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Gewandhaus, La Fenice, the Kennedy Center, and Strathmore. Highlights include performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Rogue Symphony Orchestra; Rameau opera with Opera Lafayette in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York; Bach’s Saint John Passion at Strathmore; French baroque cantatas in Philadelphia with Tempesta di Mare; live film scores for Hollywood’s silent movies for Early Music Columbus; and with her newest venture, OpenPage Ensemble, commissioning and performing works of 20th- and 21st-century composers. Her orchestral credits include the Atlanta, Dallas, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras, the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra, and The National Philharmonic.
Nobuo Kitagawa, oboe
is a graduate of Tokyo University of Arts and received Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Yale University. He was the winner of the Woolsey Hall Competition, NHK Young Artists’ Audition, and Katz Young Musicians’ Competition, which sponsored his debut recital in New York City. He has appeared as a concerto soloist with Denver Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, Orchestra New England, and Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra. As an orchestra musician, he has performed with Orchestra New England, New Haven Symphony, Stamford Symphony, Princeton Symphony, and Orchestra of St. Luke’s and is currently the principal oboist of Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra. On Broadway, he was heard on Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon, and Phantom of the Opera and served as the principal oboist for the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber National Tour. Mr. Kitagawa has recorded for Koch International, Delos, and New World Records. The Morning Call has described his sound as “sweet” and “velvety” that “simply melted into every corner of the hall.” He is on the faculty of Lafayette College, Muhlenberg College, and Kinhaven Adult Chamber Music Workshop. His YouTube channel has more than 800 instrumental exercise pieces and enjoys a large worldwide following. He publishes his work, including modern editions of works of Georg Philipp Telemann, on the online store NK Music Lab and is currently preparing an edition of Telemann’s Concerto for Two Oboes d’Amore and Cello, TWV 53:D3.
Mary Watt, oboe
was principal oboist of the Bach Festival Orchestra for 35 years, and performed with The Choir at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. She can be heard as a soloist on many of its recordings. Ms. Watt received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School. She performed with orchestras in the New York area including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, Riverside Symphony, New Haven Symphony, and Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Ms. Watt was a member of the Quintet of the Americas, touring cities in the US and South America. She also played on Broadway with Cats and toured with The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. She lives in Exeter, New Hampshire, and has performed with the New Hampshire Symphony, Vermont Symphony, Portland Symphony, the New England Bach Festival, Emmanuel Church in Boston, as well as other choral and chamber groups in New England. As a teacher of oboe, Ms. Watt began her career as assistant professor at Virginia Tech University. With the Quintet of the Americas, she was in residence at Northwestern University, and she currently teaches and coaches chamber music at Phillips Exeter Academy. Through her long association with the Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vermont, she has taught hundreds of young oboists, and founded the Kinhaven Adult Chamber Music Workshop. She has given master classes at the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, University of New Hampshire, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Colorado Boulder.
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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.”