It was a busy summer in Bachville – we offered three Bach at Noons in Allentown, decamped to upstate New York for a wonderful benefit at the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, and kicked off the 2017-2018 season in Bethlehem with Bach at Noon this past Tuesday (not to mention the myriad planning meetings and legwork to prepare for the new season). Auditions for The Choir are ongoing this weekend and the first rehearsal with the full ensemble is this coming Monday. Whew! A quick recap of the summer’s events follows.
July Bach at Noon
I was away for the July B@N, but was able to watch a bit of it on the terrace of our hotel in the Outer Banks (coastal isolation comes with the price of spotty internet), via Facebook Live video. If you’re out of town, are on Facebook, and haven’t liked us, you’re missing out! In any case, it was a celebratory affair, and all three of the summer events at St. John’s Lutheran Church were at or near capacity. A large contingent from the Choir sang Bach’s epic Cantata No. 80, Ein Feste Burg, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Special guests included children of Allentown’s Community Bike Works, who cycled to the church, and participants in the Moravian College’s joint program with the National Endowment for the Humanities on Bach and the Music of the Reformation Churches. All reports from those in attendance confirm it was a lovely afternoon.
A Vineyard of Musical Delights
At the end of July, several of us headed up to offer a program at the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, an annual benefit the vineyard hosts for us. It was a glorious time, and the concert, which featured works of Schubert, Fauré, Korngold, and Vaughan Williams’ stunning Serenade to Music. The weather was most salubrious and the audience was very appreciative. I highly commend next year’s offering to you – we’ll be sure to share the date when it’s set.
August Bach at Noon
We were back in Allentown for August’s ‘Noon, where we reprised the Vaughan Williams Serenade and heard Tom Goeman play Bach’s mammoth Toccata and Fugue in F, BWV 540. Tom’s performance was extremely fleet and dexterous, and the audience rose in a mighty ovation in response. A friend anticipated a seismic performance, and that’s what we got, with St. John’s large pipe organ shaking the rafters. The audience rose again to join us in the chorale that concludes Vaughan Williams’ anthem O How Amiable, which we offered before the Serenade. It was a glorious afternoon.
September Bach at Noon
Back in Bethlehem at Central Moravian Church, we offered a program including Bach’s B-Minor flute sonata (performed with aplomb by Greg and Robin Kani), a Händel German aria (sung enchantingly by Rosa Lamoreaux), and The Choir’s contribution, Händel’s Coronation Anthem, Zadok the Priest. After all of our wanderings, it was good to be home to another near-capacity audience. Greg spoke movingly about music of consolation in light of the 16th anniversary of 9/11, which preceded our concert by a day, and we ended on the uplifting note of Zadok’s jubilation.
There’s much to share about upcoming concerts, including the October Bach at Noon, which will feature the Bach Choir debut of the soprano Nola Richardson, who won our most recent competition for young singers in conjunction with the American Bach Society (in May of 2016), and the return of another winner of the same, audience favorite and baritone Dashon Burton. Greg and Tom will be playing a four-hands Mozart piano sonata, and The Choir will be singing a cantata last heard in Bethlehem in 1981, No. 68, which includes two barn-burning arias for Nola and Dashon. I heard Nola sing in the competition, and am very excited for Bethlehem audiences to make her acquaintance. Dashon needs no introduction, his every appearance here is a treat!
In November a number of banner events will be happening, including our hosting of the Tomanerchor Leipzig, the choir Bach conducted during his tenure at the Tomaskirche in Leipzig for our Gala Concert and Fundraiser. Order your tickets now – they sound absolutely fabulous (especially so in recent years). November’s Bach at Noon will be our 90th, and will feature Bach’s Second Brandenburg Concerto, along with Cantata No. 69, Lobe den herrn, meine Seele, another real barn-burner. In the same week, members of The Choir will head out to perform two-days’ worth of Bach to School performances. Whew!
I’ll be penning a great many more posts about each of these events – hopefully, this will whet your appetite. Our 2017-2018 season is going to be fantastic!