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Bach at Noon | February 14
February 14 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
We’re in Bethlehem for our very special Sweethearts Edition of Bach at Noon this Valentine’s Day in Central Moravian Church. Join us on February 14th, 2023 to hear members of The Bach Choir and Bach Festival Orchestra, conducted by Artistic Director and Conductor, Christopher Jackson. Featuring a few pieces Bach included in a special notebook to his second wife Anna Magdalena. We are also presenting some interesting musical pairings – Bach & Purcell – Bach & Finzi – Bach & Florence Price. Katelyn Grace Jackson, wife and sweetheart of Conductor Christopher Jackson is the soprano soloist!
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 for a complete program:
Katelyn Grace Jackson, soprano
Hailed by the Washington Post for her “supple, haunting soprano,” Katelyn Grace Jackson performs as a featured soloist and chorister with intelligence and “particular purity of tone” (San Francisco Classical Voice).Her choral and chamber experiences boast recording Dame Ethel Smyth’s The Prison with the Experiential Orchestra & Chorus (2021 GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album), and performances with The Thirteen, Clarion Music Society, Oregon Bach Festival, Third Practice, the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, Ensemble Altera, and Three Notch’d Road. She has soloed with the American Bach Soloists (St. Matthew Passion), Washington Bach Consort (St. John Passion), the Nashville Symphony Orchestra (Messiah), the City Choir of Washington (Solomon, Dona Nobis Pacem, Lord Nelson Mass), the Washington Master Chorale (Out of the Ashes of Holocaust – premiere), and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra (Harmoniemesse, Great Mass in C Minor). Theatrical highlights include the titular role in Purcell’s Fairy Queen and Norina in Don Pasquale. Ms. Jackson spent six years teaching in the Montgomery County Public Schools and served as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Six Degree Singers, a community choir based in Silver Spring, MD, from 2013-2019. She currently serves on the artistic committee for Third Practice.
Nobuo Kitagawa, oboe
Nobuo Kitagawa, oboe, is a graduate of Tokyo University of Arts and received a Master of Music and a 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 appeared as a concerto soloist with the Denver Symphony, Yale Philharmonia, Orchestra New England, and Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra. He has recorded for Koch International, Delos, and New World Records. On Broadway, he has been heard in Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, and Miss Saigon. Morning Call described his performance as “sweet, velvety, sound simply melting into every corner of the hall.” He’s on the faculty of Lafayette College and Kinhaven Adult Chamber Music Workshop. His YouTube channel of nearly five hundred instrumental exercises enjoys a large worldwide audience.
Oboist, Nobuo Kitagawa, was the inspiration for programming Bach’s Concerto in D Minor BWV 1059r. The slow middle movement is painfully beautiful, thus the reason I chose this work on our Valentine’s Day Bach at Noon, and is a regular staple for our Bach to School program. In the fall of 2022, I conducted the Bach to School program for the first time and was shocked that I had never before heard this incredible piece for oboe. As it turns out, the “r” in 1059r stands for “reconstruction”, and we are only aware of the existence of this Oboe Concerto because of a combination of detailed writings and conjecture! I asked Nobuo if he would join us for this concert and to play the Oboe Concerto before I had realized that there are no scholarly editions of the work currently in print! I immediately called Nobuo to ask if he had any leads on where we could turn to next. Drawing on his prior experience in creating new editions of Telemann’s works for the Bach Choir, he was able to produce a complete edition of this exciting piece just in time for the performance. We are truly grateful for his efforts and are thrilled to present this rare treat for you.
Kerry Heimann, harpsichord
Has been president of the American Boychoir School, and accompanied the choir’s almost 100 annual concerts coordinating an extensive international touring and recording schedule. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organ performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he earned his doctoral degree in harpsichord and early music from Illinois, with a minor in choral conducting and literature. Principal teachers have included Charlotte Mattax, Michael Farris, Chet Alwes, Fred Stoltzfus, and Nicholas Temperley. He has received several awards and honors, including the Gerald M. Crystal Fellowship and the prestigious Theodore Presser Award, and induction into Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Society in Music. A widely sought-after accompanist, conductor, and collaborator, Mr. Heimann has played at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and Kennedy Center and performed at festivals throughout Europe and North America. He helped to found the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana and served as producer for Charlotte Mattax’s five CDs of the harpsichord works of Jean Henry d’Anglebert, Charles Noblet, Pierre Fevrier, and J.S. Bach. Kerry has performed at national and regional conferences for such organizations as the American Choral Directors Association, the Society for Seventeenth Century Music, the American Institute of Organbuilders, and the Organization of American Kodaly Educators. He serves as Operations and Patron Services Manager for Princeton University Concerts and as Director of Music and Organist for Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, NJ.
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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.”